Sunday, April 5, 2020

Rammelkamp on Faye Turner-Johnson's "Just Shoot 'Em"

For Day 5 of 30 Days of The Five-Two, my thanks to frequent contributor Charles Rammelkamp for this commentary —Gerald So

Written with incantatory power, “Just Shoot ‘Em” highlights the shame of crime and punishment in the United States in which the punishment is so often the crime, especially in the context of our national stain of racism. The repetition of the phrase, “shoot ‘em” hammers home the injustice, the inhumanity. Faye Turner-Johnson’s anger, despair and disgust are on vivid display as the poem repeats the phrase, over and over like a drum beat, brutal as a blunt object.

Turner-Johnson does not even have to mention the names – Stephon Clark, shot by police in Sacramento holding a cellphone, Walter Scott, shot down running from a policeman in Charleston, Philando Castile shot by a cop reaching for his registration in a Minnesota suburb, Botham Jean, killed by a police officer while sitting on his own couch in Dallas, Atatiana Jefferson, shot by police while playing a video game with her nephew in Fort Wayne – as she lists the litany of horrors and injustice that seem to occur daily in America, as frequently as mass shootings. We’re already too familiar with these instances of people simply “seeking justice and freedom in America.” Just shoot ‘em, shoot ‘em dead.

—Charles Rammelkamp

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