Poverty Policing Pandemic

A #BlackLivesMatter Grounding Exercise

Demetrius Noble

An urgent poem for these times of rebellion.

Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.

Rosa Luxemburg

The rulers of this country have always considered their property more important than our lives.

Assata Shakur


Smell that righteous rage

Permeating from police precincts propaned with protests

I know we’re in the middle of a pandemic

But I need you to pull your facemask down

And smell the swell of a hundred thousand yells


You can literally smell the fire

Of our legitimate political desires

Whenever wind blows

You tried to hide inside

but the revolutionary aroma rode in through busted windows

they found some rich rapping negroes

to denigrate the dark denizens

who dared to remind Atlanta’s black mayor that they too are citizens

and are tired of living in poverty in a city that leads the nation in income inequality

with black lives matter on their minds

and a radical inflection point within reach

These outkasts hit the streets

And told Mayor Bottoms fuck yo new Atlanta Compromise Speech


Can you smell the fear of orange monsters cringing in bunkers

See the actions of neofascists dispatching troops on unruly youngsters

Teargassing our children because they have the audacity to believe

That another world is possible and won’t stop until it’s achieved

Smell the winds of change riding in on this new breeze

Not even your offensive lines can block freedom’s fragrance Drew Brees

See established budgets crumbling from our rumblings as we demand DEFUND THE POLICE

See charges being filed as brilliant red fires glow

Hear the chant BLACK LIVES MATTER as global protests grow

Hear essential workers on a picket line scream NO WE WON’T GO

Feel this mighty movement from below

Witness that this powder keg is about to blow

Take off your facemasks

Open your mouth and belt suppressed screams

Inhale and smell the cities on fire until you taste the kerosene

Say their names until you can taste our pain

Then join us on the frontlines as we struggle for change

Don’t let these embers cool youngin, feed the flames!


Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.

Frederick Douglass

Liberation does not come as a gift from anybody; it is seized by the masses with their own hands.

Adolfo Gilly

Poverty Policing Pandemic: A #BlackLivesMatter Grounding Exercise read by D Noble.

Demetrius Noble (better known as D. Noble) is an activist, teacher and radical cultural worker. He currently serves as a professor in the African American & Diaspora Studies department at University of North Carolina Greensboro. His work has been published in The African American Review, The Journal of Pan African Studies, The Journal of Black Masculinity, Works and Days, Cultural Logic, Red Wedge and other leftist digital and print publications.