By Rachel Harris
The eyes of the law
I wonder how they see me?
The night of my skin
Coupled with the light I choose to carry
Groomed like a thoroughbred
Yet mindful of mentalities
That might get me killed
deep deep deep
Into who I am
Branded with an image
Solidified by tears and frustration
Melded together by legacy
The eyes of the law
Made of faces, places, systems
Bent on trapping me
Am I, too, viewed as
Ever searching, ever groaning
Ever demanding justice
Seconds spent turning sadness into perspective;
Years worth of pressure transposed into success
A mountain of case briefs
A moment in time when I decided
I belong here
Here begging to be seen and known;
Here to be heard and not killed
I am here.
Longing for more
In the eyes of the law
And Still I Rise in the words of Maya Angelou
I am Becoming like Michelle Obama
All the while clinging to the words of Langston Hughes in my chest
Knowing that America has never been America to me.
My hope is that this poem expresses the visceral tension many have found themselves in during recent months. As a Black woman, being real about my own emotions is not something that comes easily. Further, in my choice to demonstrate and champion transparency, I hope others are encouraged to do the same.
This poem is a critique and reflection on how the law itself has shaped my own self-perception. Simultaneously, as a student of the law, this writing calls out how my own self-identity has spurred me on to believe that justice is possible. References to Maya Angelou, Michelle Obama, and Langston Hughes harken to those whose voices have been a steady anchor.
Eyes of the Law was written days before the 2020 Election – a time where messages, ballots, and so much more are under threat of being lost. It seems that things are in turmoil. With the death of Breonna Taylor over 200 days in the past, for many the wounds are ever present. Less than 175 days until graduation for myself and many other colleagues. Yet, in the past year, there have been countless memories forgone in the name of community safety.
Despite these things, there are priceless moments yet to be experienced, and unthinkable struggles that we will get through with the love and support of those around us. May the call of those who went before us with love and justice be our compass. – RH