Shinobu, is this what solidarity looks like?

Civil rights activist Yuri Kochiyama was present at the assassination of Malcolm X in 1965. Kochiyama held the movement’s visionary hero in her arms, attempting to help him pull through. Kochiyama endured the racist incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII, which set her on a path of seeking justice for all marginalized communities, leading to her becoming a major champion of civil rights for Black and all Americans. – Photo: Rea Tajiri and Pat Saunders, “Yuri Kochiyama: Passion for Justice” (1993)

 

by Raymond Nat Turner

Now, I wasn’t Yuri Kochiyama

amidst toppled chairs, gun smoke

scented chaos, cradling Malcolm’s

heavy head on the Audubon Ballroom 

floor as his double ought buck shot 

pocked chest oozed ruby rivulets …

I arrived at the Asian elder split

second after the unmusical thud

of his head hitting concrete – after he’d missed

the curb, stumbled and fallen on 14th and Broadway

I didn’t worry whether or not scarlet streaming

from his temple was HIV or Hep C tainted; I didn’t

worry whether or not some right turn-making, out

of control driver would wipe us out; I didn’t worry

about an out of the blue lawsuit; I didn’t worry about

Blu klux klansmen seeing me; seeing blood; seeing

me; seeing blood; seeing me kneeling beside the Asian elder –

My magic gun – seeing me rifling his pockets robbing him … 

I worried about napkins and band-aids in my backpack 

being sterile – or not sterile

I worried about speaking softly as I stanched crimson

streaming from his temple

I worried about being in over my head – and just then I

spotted EMT and asked an onlooker to flag them down

He did. And they came; they saw; praising preliminary

work and taking over. No sirens. No flashing red, white

blue and yellow party lights. No yellow tape theater. No 

surly sauntering for overtime. No gruff barking. No dis-

respect. No baton blows. No frame-up. No dead samaritan.

No violence workers – I could breathe and leave High … 

Raymond Nat Turner © 2021 All Rights Reserved. Raymond Nat Turner is an acclaimed poet and performance artist. Find more of his work at http://upsurgejazz.com and contact him at upsurgejazz@gmail.com.