Zamani: Reflections on Neglect

The following is a poem written by Zamani Ackie-Davis (YASI ’17) reflecting on his experience speaking with residents of a homeless shelter outside the New Lots Library in East New York, Brooklyn.  Zamani met these individuals while staffing a YASI help desk during YASI 2017.

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When you’re on your daily commute

Wearing a nice tie and suit

Do you notice those who want to be like you

Or are you too blind to see the truth

That people who are denied to pursue

The happiness that they are entitled to

They seek service and support

Because this is their last resort

What kind of man would turn a blind eye

You could have prevented their suicide

Instead you thought of what you could buy

Did you forget the fact that they cry?

I don’t think you understand how their life was destroyed

When you decided to treat it like a child’s toy

I witnessed their voice first hand

Only a glimpse, a grain of sand

Let me educate you on their everyday

Kicked out the place from nine to four

Given ten minutes to get the f**k out the door

Security bangs on lockers all day and night

But never attempts to break up fights

Because they’re the ones who influence and ignite

“I’ve been stabbed, slashed, stitched and bruised

20 incidents gone by, put this s**t on the news

I got here because of the outdated evaluation

They’re the ones who put me in this situation

They think checking a box to a general question

Is going to give me the right detention

Yeah, I did drugs 35 years ago

But, don’t send me to an addiction facility you know

These people are dying and given no medical attention

It’s been going on for years with no suspension”

I spoke to this man, slowly losing to cancer

Plently more illnesses, but still shows his manners

He’s not given even the smallest of respect

But he continues to treat others without ever a threat

But don’t think that it’s over, I’ve got plenty more to say

Why life for them is even darker than gray

Others who suffer more than the worst

Takin’ their checks for what it’s worth

Tryna survive day by day on it

But the system is a thief and doesn’t give a s**t

Some just quit

And say that’s it

They’re mentally broken

They’re physically broken

Never heard when spoken

People always think they’re jokin’

And you wonder why they’re so unspoken

I wish I was actually done

Because this story doesn’t have any fun

The thought of it, just drives me insane

Never leaving my brain 

Because I was told if you were to ever complain

They’d ship you off to an even worse domain

But I’ll stop here because I can’t control this rage

Those in power I will engage

Because this right here, is inhumane

They’re our fellow man

You should be obligated to always lend a hand

Can’t let profit control this land

Let us stand

To prepare a plan

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