Liz Pines, '16, represents Lehigh's LGBTQIA+ community by reading a poem at the "Black Lives Matter" on Wednesday. The event was held in memory of Michael Brown and in support of equal justice for all. (Chris Barry/B&W photo)

POEM: ‘All Oppression is Connected’

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As read at the Black Student Union’s “Black Lives Matter” event on Dec. 3.

I turn on the TV, and see another man has been killed by the police,
Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice – when will the injustice cease?
Since the founding of our country, being black has been a crime.
“Hands up, don’t shoot” – too late, there’s not enough time.
Not enough time to prove worth to a society that sees blackness as badness
Condemnation for the looting in Ferguson, but praise for the Hunger Games’ Katniss.
The murder of black men, young and old, is nothing new,
So what in the world can we possibly do?

Now let’s stop and talk about privilege for a second,
So many discussions, and still so many don’t get it.
I am a white queer woman, and my privilege is the color of my skin.
I get unearned advantages simply because I fit in.
I have never experienced stop and frisk,
When I was a teen, I was not seen as “at risk,”
I have never been followed for suspicion of theft,
When dealing with law enforcement, I am not stressed,
My accomplishments are seen as a direct result of my hard work and time,
Not attributed to my skin color at any point in my lifetime.
And despite this privilege, I still see oppression,
Against my LGBTQ family, there is daily aggression.
We are imprisoned at a much higher rate,
And if we’re of color, we get out on a later date,
We are harassed, beaten and killed simply for being who we are,
We too often see the inside of a police car,
Many of us live below the poverty line,
Only in our dreams, do we see dollar signs,
45 percent of reported hate murders are against trans women,
Which is 45 percent too high, in my personal opinion.
87 percent of anti-LGBTQ murder victims in 2011 were people of color,
And every day, we are seen as “other”,
The discrimination against us is nothing new,
So what in the world can we possibly do?
We, as a community, can begin to speak,
Speak loudly about injustice and challenge and critique,
The racism, classism, and heterosexism is all the same,
Founded on hatred, and intended to inflame,
Inflame discrimination at the hands of those in power,
And time is up for us to act, now is the hour.
Because all oppression is connected,
And the time is now, to forever end it.

– Elizabeth Pines, ’16

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