Skip to main content

Information is power. Our mission at Portside is to seek out and to provide information that empowers you -- that empowers the left. Every day we search hundreds of sources to connect you with the most interesting, striking and useful material. Just once a year we appeal to you to contribute to make it possible to continue this work. Please help.

 

poetry Redlining

The Alabama-based poet Ashley M. Jones has a thing or two to say about “redlining” (aka housing discrimination).

printer friendly  
,

Redlining

 By Ashley M. Jones

 

Oh, what? You thought I didn’t belong here?  

You thought your street was me-proof? Thought here 

was a place only lilies could grow? Can you hear 

my skin before you see it? Can you hear  

the rap I'm blasting down your perfect street? Here, 

take it—every beat will fight for me. If you can hear 

it, that means I'm winning, that means you can’t hurt me here. 

Means I'm belonging if it’s the last thing I do. Did you hear 

the one about the black girl who just wanted to mind her 

own business in a country, state, city, suburb where 

their only business is making sure I'm not here?  

Where my face my body my God my hair 

even my right to write this sonnet right here 

is policed, is stared down, is burned fast as ether 

Ashley M. Jones holds an MFA in Poetry from Florida International University, and she is the author of Magic City Gospel and dark / / thing. Her poetry has earned several awards, including the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers Award, the Silver Medal in the Independent Publishers Book Awards, the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize for Poetry, a Literature Fellowship from the Alabama State Council on the Arts, the Lucille Clifton Poetry Prize, and the Lucille Clifton Legacy Award. Her poems and essays appear in or are forthcoming at CNN, The Oxford American, Origins Journal, The Quarry by Split This Rock, Obsidian, and many others. She teaches at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, and she is the founding director of the Magic City Poetry Festival.