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THE VICIOUS CYCLE OF GENTRIFICATION (from the “Urban Fortresses” series)

Picket line outside of Columbia College Chicago. Photo credit: Keith M. Kelley

The cycle starts with systemic neglect.

Without economic development,

communities become irrelevant,

and their residents command no respect.

Next comes the decay the experts call, “blight:”

broken windows prove dilapidation,

litter strewn about- with trash cans in sight.

and bespeak of residents’ frustration.

Then comes the, “urban redevelopment:”

the first wave of hipsters, and artist types,

the, “I don’t see colors, just people” types,

who raise up property values and rents.

But neighborhoods’ hipness, like new toys… fades

to blue lights and sirens’ harsh serenades.


Photo by Mitja Juraja on Pexels.com

Centuries before Covid-19 hit

A pandemic infected this country.

And since it was a plague, we ignored it.

We whitewashed genocide and slavery.

We wore politically corrected masks

To shield others from verbal aerosol.

Treating the symptoms was a short-term task.

Red, blue and white pride came before this fall.

Historic disparities reared their heads.

Structural biases waged their impacts.

Statistics mattered, after all was said

 By white men in power disputing facts.

Racism, the plague we chose to ignore,

Led coronavirus to Black folks’ door.


By Keith M. Kelley

Murder will always be, “a tragedy-“
but let’s be honest here, it’s not unique.
Chiraq’s murder rate’s a catastrophe.
Being “murdered by cop?” Man, that’s, “boutique!”
Yes, murder is always, “a tragedy-“
When ignorance snuffs another young life
And shrugs it off as, “how it’s gotta be”
Then we have grown “accustomed” to the strife.
Murder will always be, “a tragedy-“
If all lives don’t matter- why even try?
We’ll just keep watching it keep happening
You know, “it-“ letting black and brown men die!
I’m just stating what you already knew
Most of the hands that take black lives ain’t blue.