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Triptych

But for is always game. A man can be murdered twice, but for science, his body a pool of blood in Baltimore & Tulsa, except, it isn’t, his body actually slender against the sunlight just outside a California prison—a crow rests on a fence near his car. Visiting hours long done, (for man not crow, one of a murderous many that flies above this barbed wire) & the cigarette he smokes is illegal, here, & but for the magnetic pull tragedy has on black women he wouldn’t be here, right now, contemplating the crimson colored man leaping into the darkness on his Nikes. He still says Air Jordans, because air is important, adjective swearing to black America’s aim, if not ability, to soar, a way to outrun statistics & the lead in the water. Alas, metaphysics says you are only you & no one else, & a black poet says black love is not one or one thousand things, & it all may be true, but for the fact that the man swears the crow looks at him dead as if he is already so, as if while standing there he has been murdered by his brother, murdered by a cop, & bodied by a prison sentence as flames from a Newport’s burning ash, illuminate his corpse.

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About Boston Review

Walter Johnson, Harvard historian and author of the acclaimed River of Dark Dreams, urges us to embrace a vision of justice attentive to the history of slavery—not through the lens of human rights, but instead through an honest accounting of how slavery was the foundation of capitalism, a legacy that continues to afflict people of color and the poor. Inspired by Cedric J. Robinson’s work on racial capitalism, as well as Black Lives Matter and its forebears—including the black radical tradition, the Black Panthers, South African anti-apartheid struggles, and organized labor—contributors to this volume offer a critical handbook to racial justice in the age of Trump.