'Sons' by Terisa Siagatonu and Rudy Francisco
(2013 National Poetry Slam Boston, MA)
"When it comes to motherhood, I do not hesitate to say that I would want to raise all boys. I would want to raise all sons.
If I’ve learnt anything about being a man, it’s that being a father is designed to be a contact sport, and far too many of us retire before we even see what the field looks like.
If I’ve learnt anything about being a woman, it’s that no matter how empowering I seem, my existence was designed to never stand a chance.
When the state of Ohio found two sixteen year old boys guilty of raping a sixteen year old girl, both boys cried their eyes out moments after the verdict. Every major media news outlet coddled them instead of the girl they’d raped. CNN was grieving over the death of their futures in football. They said nothing of the cemetery growing inside the girl. Nothing of the graveyard where she would bury her trust in men.
Rape culture is the worst kind of teacher our kids are learning the most from. It teaches women that it is their responsibility to not get raped. It teaches men that ‘boys will be boys’. It teaches us that a short skirt and a smile is ‘asking for it’. It teaches us that it’s not wrong unless someone comes to her rescue. And this, this is why I want all boys, because it’s moments like these verdicts that make me numb to my own anger.
I’m afraid to even talk about this out loud. The part where our first line of action as the people seeking justice, is to trust the police more than we trust our children. Is to make sure we throw (?) in a prison cell, instead of showing them the way home. Is to see juvenile detention centres as an excuse for free childcare. The part where we celebrate our decision to throw another black boy into a cage, and trust that prison will teach him how to respect women better than we ever could if we didn’t give up on him.
Jails will not fix broken people, jails will break them harder. Until all of them are shards of mirror, hurting everyone around them. No wonder we can’t see our reflections in their mistakes.
Where do you think they’ve learnt this from anyways? I’ll be damned if I stood here and said that I only have the capacity to love someone who’s only been at the edge of the knife, at the barrel of the gun, and not have enough love to go around for the one who’s holding the weapon. Where do they get that from? Who taught them how to use it like that? I’m not saying to feel sorry for anybody. And I’m not going to apologise for the way I feel about an issue as complex as this one, as complex as we are.
I’m saying that one day I’m going to be a mother, and I’m going to have a son. And if I don’t raise him in a community that will help me teach him how to unravel himself from his sexism, from the rotten parts of his masculinity. And if he doesn’t learn better from me, than what rape culture will teach him when I’m not looking: he is as good as crooked cop street meat. As good as jail bird, sex offender, wife beater, hopeless case, caged dog. He is as good as the next brown boy sobbing on the witness stand apologising to the girl that he raped. That he 'didn’t mean to do it'. Promising that his mother 'taught him better' than that.
Hoping that somebody in that court room will forgive him.
He has yet to learn.”
So I made that post about my favourite songs of 2012 (including taylor swift and gangnam style etc.) and people just hated on it.
I just don’t understand.
I mean, I do understand. I have my own issues with ‘the industry,’ I have issues with how it’s hard to compete with a bunch of people with…