Institutionalised inequality

19 Jun

Maxine Beneba Clarke wrote a poem in 2014 in response to the shooting of Tamir Rice at the hands of police.  In this poem, entitled ‘Even if it gets to 104 degrees’, a mother speaks to her son and reminds him of the special burden placed on African American boys to behave in ways that overtly respectful and suspicion.  She remind him that many of the things other boys can do, he cannot.  Why? Because “black boys got shot for less.”

I would love to teach this poem alongside Blythe Baird’s ‘Pocket-sized Feminism‘, a spoken word poem in which the poem eloquently and powerfully explores gendered expectations and perceptions.   Through this poem it is implied that being a woman is accompanied by extra burdens – social norms which determine behaviour and dictate responses.

I think this poems would pair well as both discuss the notion that identity does not exist in a vacuum divorced from social norms and expectations.



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