Transcript

Judy Woodruff: Mahogany L. Browne is a poet, author, and mother.

In tonight’s Brief But Spectacular, she delivers a poem called “Apply Pressure,” which was initially written for Breonna Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer.

Taylor was fatally shot by police in her own home last March in Louisville, Kentucky.

Mahogany L. Browne: When I see Breonna Taylor, I see myself, I see my daughter, I see my students, I see my aunts, I see my sisters, I see my cousins, I see the first lady, I see citizens that deserve better.

Breonna is gone. Eleanor is gone. We, the people, read the names and only recognize the flames of injustice.

Syllable count, heat close enough to the neck. Fred is gone. The people utter their names during protest, during prayer, during wake and repose.

Louisville and Mississippi and Detroit and Chicago, our streets are still slick with the blood of our endangered citizens. Mike is gone. Quiana is gone. Who else got time to sage the polls and the political office?

Evil is alive, and only answers to the tune of money. Indifference is a tsunami thrashing against our chests.

George and Eric and Trayvon, Florida and Milwaukee and D.C. Oh, America, we did not resist your attempts to murder us on a plantation just to be murdered on a plantation. California and Georgia, can’t you see? We ain’t leaving the land we toiled. We ain’t leaving our voice you attempted to spoil. We refuse to submit.

We are parents and formerly incarcerated. We are queer and public defenders. We are educators and entrepreneurs. We are the vote. We commit to freedom. Our spirits have fled from the fire for so long. We liken the heat to cornbread and debates over the Supreme Court or the remote control.

Our vastness is indisputable, our ability to joy and woe and rage and love all tangible, all present, all possible. How else we going feed these babies? We will teach them to know themselves despite your disregard. Our children will not fear their own shadows. Our children will not fear their reflection from the white gaze.

Our children will focus on their own ways of brilliance. And we will continue to stoke the flames, bring down the racist monuments, burn down the bigotry, turn over the pedestal that lifts up your fragility.

We have never tried to hide from this history. We have never demanded more than we’re owed. You can run, but you can’t outrun this destiny. Our ancestors already vowed riding low beneath the water tides or inside the hull of this nation’s nightmare, we will never be gone again.

My name is Mahogany L. Browne, and this is my Brief But Spectacular take on honoring Breonna Taylor.

Judy Woodruff: Powerful.

And you can find all of our Brief But Spectacular segments online at PBS.org/NewsHour/Brief.