Posted by: theodorecosmosophia | June 16, 2011

Youth Day, Commemorating the 1976 Soweto Uprising: For what cause would you risk your life?

Today is Youth Day in South Africa, the commemoration of the 1976 Soweto Uprising, in which students took to the streets to protest the forced inclusion of Africaans in the curriculum. 20,000 students took part in protests; 176 were killed.  My question for the youth of today is this: For what cause would you take to the streets? Is education, something for which many have risked their lives, even a concern?

“Two Moments”

There are two moments

From my youth

That resound



Walking proudly




From prison;

And the burning streets of L.A.

After the Rodney King verdict.

…and here in Oakland, California

A young man named Oscar Grant,

Unarmed and handcuffed

Executed on a train platform

And the streets of Oakland burn.

I see Rodney King

Defenseless and prone


As I watch the young man

—a boy, really, but a father, too—


I still can hear the soft Jamaican accent on the radio

On that firey night in 1991,

Dedicating a song of revolution

To Rodney King.

I hear too

Then as now,

How pointless it is to destroy property

In response to tragedy.

Unfortunate comparisons made

To blood spilt at the hands of police

To broken windows and burned cars.

I suppose there is truth in the critique of the rioters,

But I also know something greater:

I have seen Hell.

And it is neither dark nor aflame,

Nor do demons torture its inhabitants.

Hell is the moment when a human being loses the ability to lament life’s sorrows,

And to become enraged at injustice.

Those fires,

In L.A. as in Oakland and Soweto,

Are not Hell,

But humanity’s sad yearning to escape it.

January 2009, Oakland


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: