A Poem About Race That Might Get Some People Angry, But It's Only Because What She’s Saying Is True

What happens when a dangerously exciting fantasy flick is actually real life for some folks? A fearless poet breaks it all down in two minutes.

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Imani Cezanne: The Hunger Games, a made up story about an annual event in which two people from each of 12 starving districts are randomly selected by the wealthy to compete in a televised battle to the death. Now, don't get me wrong. Hunger Games is my shit. But I can't help but notice how painting poverty in white face makes it fantasy, makes it fiction, makes a number one selling novel a hit at the box office. Guess being brown and hungry ain't all that entertaining. Our stomachs have been wailing since parched tongues licked cornmeal mush off fingertips dry and cotton plant cracked, since chit-lin fashion pig intestine into a delicacy, since ten-for-a-dollar ramen, boiled hot dogs, and pinto beans. This game is only one sport in this Olympics we call surviving.

The story is not foreign to those of us who know about fighting to the death while governing bodies watch you, merely placing obstacles in your path. We call it crack rock, welfare, the prison pipeline. You call it entertainment, but the Hunger Games is my shit. It's hood shit. Black people are dying by the mouthful at the hands of a government who recruit the famished, train them, then call them athletes. Meanwhile, meanwhile, Hollywood spends millions of dollars to tell this story without us. They call it Panem, we call it East Oakland, where the only white people on the schools are the teachers, and the students have children before they have boyfriends. Call it South Central, where domestic violence runs wild and you hear the voice of God before you hit the ambulance that was supposed to save you. Call it Detroit, where a black woman asking for help is means to put a bullet in the back of a head. Call it Florida, where letting the bass drop will get a call for the black boys shot, and the murderer will only do time for the people who survived. Tell the niggers, "Ain't been this fun since 13-year-old black boys stopped whistling," since brown babies hung from umbilical cords. The blacker the berry, the tighter the news. You see, being hungry ain't all that bad when it means you're still alive.

There may be small errors in this transcript.
About:

The Hunger Games” is a spoken-word poem written and performed by the ever-so-electric Imani Cezanne. It was posted by our friends at Button Poetry. Follow Imani on Twitter and log on to Button Poetry’s website to hear more diverse voices. Thumbnail image by Carissa Rogers, used under Creative Commons license.

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