Amy Barlow Liberatore… stories of lost years, wild times, mental variety, faith, and lots of jazz

Tag Archives: Protest

Response to Great White Whines

So sorry you’re perturbed
That your lunch was disturbed
by our chanting
in the hallowed halls of
the food court

Loud voices demanding change, laying down
bodies; a die-in to protest
killing of unarmed black men
We were faces of all shades
chanting in one voice:

“Black lives matter”
Indigestion? You had it coming

© 2015 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

ABC Wednesday, Q for Quandary… I am called white; Anglo; WASP, even, which stands for the ubiquitous White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant – and I stand with Black Lives Matter protesters. This is a natural extension of following Jesus, an enduring symbol of love at its best, embracing everyone as family. I admit I have a hard time embracing bigots; it’s my Christian learning curve.

White folks often cloak their racism in whitespeak, without realizing they are being offensive and ignorant. A good example was this true story above, where a white woman complained to other white women at JCPenney in my presence. She said, “They have the right to complain, but… do they have to use the food court? I had to try and explain what was happening to my granddaughter.” I replied, as evenly as I could, “I was one of the protesters. If you need help explaining it to her, let me know.” She was shocked.

She didn’t want my help. She merely wanted to bitch about being inconvenienced in the smallest of ways… some noise during her fast-food lunch. And she didn’t listen anyway, so I wonder what exactly she told her granddaughter. If she had listened, she would have understood that this was an organized, peaceful exercise of free-speech rights, planned in conjunction with mall security, who were informed by the group beforehand. We were protesting the recent killing of Dontre Hamilton, an unarmed young black man with schizophrenia who had gone off his meds and was killed by a white police officer who discharged 14 bullets. Wisconsin – America – has a race problem, and it’s up to all of us to solve it.

Other Great White Whines:
Why do “they” have to tie up traffic during rush hour? (They? Really? Let’s start there…)
Why aren’t “they” nice like Martin Luther, King? The same people would complain about Dr. King if he was still alive. In fact, they would whine about any public assembly that calls for accountability, when it’s the white race being called out for unthinking privilege.)

My quandary is that I’m a white civil rights advocate. Racists, beige like me, assume I will tolerate their whining, when in fact I don’t, bluntly. And, at first glance, people of color see me as “one of the crackers,” which I’m not.

Many thanks to Mrs. Nesbitt for starting ABC Wednesday, and special thanks to Roger and the ABC gang for keeping those letters rollin’!  A great collective.  Amy


Handling the Truth
(for Euro-Americans)

Bought and sold at auction
Everyday transactions
Fractionally human, they said, if that

In those “golden olden days,”
African lives were cheap
From deep in jungles, sold
by bribed tribal chiefs or
simply rounded up like
fleet and feisty animals

This nation brutalized
an entire civilization
If Anglos never feel
the slash of the lash…
If whites will not dare
to share the shame of slavery

After all these years
the pain of the past endures
and we won’t even watch the film

How can we dare say we care
about rancid, ruthless racism
still rampant in America?

Buy the ticket, damn it
(You already saw “Hunger Games”)
Or was Jack Nicholson right?
“You can’t HANDLE the truth”

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

I have seen “12 Years a Slave” TWICE. Second time, to hold a friend’s hand and discuss the movie. Lex and I were breathless, angry, ashamed… especially that this film, the most important film ever made about the enslavement and unimaginable treatment of African peoples at the hands of “white” slavers, is tanking at the box office. People have said, “It’s too heavy,” or even, “I go to movies to be entertained, not educated.” Really?! What the hell do they mean? If people went through this shit, we owe it to them to at least watch a dramatization of the true story.

I know it’s tough. Especially when everyone is engorging themselves like tics on Thanksgiving turkey and bloating their credit card debt on Black Friday. But I implore you, GO SEE THIS FILM. We all need to face the facts.

This is for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads (protest poem) and Poets United’s Poetry Pantry. Peace, Amy


How to Raise a Valedictorian
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Study together.
She, homework.
You, Woolf.

Release her from school for
antiwar protests and call it
civics lessons

Ban video games

Tell her God gave her beautiful,
but smart takes work

Love unconditionally

© Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Trifecta’s Weekend Challenge was 33 words of advice. This worked for my daughter Riley, who is currently a top student at Laguna Beach Institute of Art and Design. Did I mention she doodled in the margins of her homework?  That she came out to the entire student body’s parents during her speech?  (She was already out, “gender queer,” to all her friends, and didn’t lose one of them.)  Can you tell you much Lex and I love this young woman?

The picture was taken by Lex as we were being goofy after the ceremony.  Silver becomes her, but her heart?  Pure gold.  Peace, Amy


RICH AND RICHER

Here is the heart of the matter:
One percent get fatter
while children starve.

Their parents are
stark-stricken with guilt.
We 99ers built this country,

White indentured servants;
Black slaves who gave all and
all they got was, “Y’all are lazy,

yer not even worth
one whole person.”
They nursed hope anyway.

The Rich are the sons
and grandsons of men with
ideas but the DNA diluted.

Ever see a xerox of a xerox of
a xerox? Sometimes that’s called
Mister President.

The Rich of today
have never worked
or earned their money.

They play Monopoly
using real people as
little game pieces.

They play the game of Life
using worthless mortgages
as cash for their bank.

They don’t play chess.
That game takes work.
Effort is not their style.

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
For ABC Wednesday, brought to you by the letter “R.”  Also posted at Poets United, my poetic sanctuary.


For Poetry Tow Truck (thanks to Donna V. for the prompt, What I Did On My Summer Vacation”!). Also at my poetic collective home, Poets United. Peace to all, and may cooler heads prevail this Fall, Amy

Hot Town, Summer in the City

In flannels-and-snow-shoes winter
we marched at Capitol Dome.

You’d think now resolve would splinter
and we’d cool off at home.

Yet, we’re still here with signs
upholding union rights,

Tired, sweaty folks of all kinds
chanting from noons to nights,

‘Cause we remember history
and it’s not just munitions:

Our forebears saw no mystery
in unjust work conditions.

They used their power in numbers
‘til unions were assured,

And, bless them, they were fired on,
but still their words endured:

SOLIDARITY FOREVER!
THE UNION MAKES US STRONG.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


At We Write Poems, a prompt went out: Write a poem about writing a poem. You never know when or where the inspiration will strike. I’ve long since given up on sitting down and deciding to produce something… and yet, the more I write, the more I want to write!

This poem is also posted at Writer’s Island, where I’m posting daily for National Poetry Writing Month. Amy

Prelude to a Poem

Teapot screams meeeeeEEEEEEEE
demanding attention
Drip of the French Press into the mug
Pressing grounds through as
ground falls from under my feet
taking me back to that cafe in the Village where…

Drifting with the breeze down State Street
Lots of UW students hang and hacky-sack here
Whole lives ahead of them
One potent whiff of a fattie gives me
a contact high and suddenly I’m on Venice Beach…

We march in solidarity with unions at
Madison’s Capitol Dome
The golden statue atop is called Miss Forward
The governor inside is called Mister Backward
My anger at injustice boils inside my gut
I plop down on the pavement and start to
scribble on the back of my sign…

Startled awake, sweating, full-body tremble
recalling those nights when
a little girl was tucked in tight until
HE decided it was her turn
I switch on the light – it’s NOW, dammit, not THEN!
I pick up a pen…

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


There’s going to come a day in the near future when anti-war protests will start up again.  Even if I have to start them.  In the meantime, just as a reminder of how “free” we were during the Bush years, a snapshot of a Buffalo city protest, “back in the day.”

ORANGE MESH (the Bushista years)

We are herded behind
the orange mesh fence
hastily erected by minions to protect
Dick Cheney from our opinions
Residents vs. the vice president

Local police, paid overtime (by our side) to ensure
there will be no crime, no ordinance breached
such as burning and looting and freedom of speech

We are cattle herded into our enclosure, our stall
Orange mesh strangling the voice of the people
encasing us, muffling our rage, this cage

“Why not trample it, stampede the Code Orange?” says I
“Because.” My friend points to
snipers on the roof of an old Buffalo landmark
Our turf is their turret

We have changed species
We are sheep bleating
shorn by orange nylon and rubber pylons

© 2008 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil