Some poems arrive unexpectedly. My poem ‘The Chair’ in Wednesday’s Morning Star caught me blind-side while scrolling through my Facebook feed. There was an image. One I couldn’t get out of my head. The only solution. Write a poem.
Black Lives Matter has arisen spontaneously, through the power of social media. It’s a movement for desperately needed justice. Anger can be turned into action. Laws changed. Attitudes altered. We all have our part to play. Things are changing – but slowly.
It seems deeply shocking that a so-called civilised society like America still executes people. The constitution allows each State to decide for itself, and tragically 25 States still have capital punishment on their statute books.
If that’s not horrendous enough, the colour of your skin has a lot to do with whether you receive a death sentence. The ethnicity of the murder victim is statistically the deal breaker – a white victim more often results in Death Row than if the victim were black. Old prejudices die hard. Some lives are still deemed more equal than others, yet the US Supreme Court does not acknowledge statistical bias as a reason to overturn an individual sentence.
I’ve been a member of Amnesty International for much of my adult life. It campaigns for the abolition of the death penalty world-wide. Do please consider joining if you aren’t already a member. Here is a link to their work on capital punishment: Amnesty International
My thanks to Andy Croft, who chose ‘The Chair’ as Poem of the Week in the printed newspaper. The Morning Star costs £1.20 and is available at a number of outlets, including The Coop, Budgens and McColls. You can also read its mix of News, Politics, Culture and Sport online, where my poem is also available to view at: The Chair by Claire Booker