Forgive Me If I Do Not Believe You.



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A month can’t go by without another disturbing story surfacing about racism, brutality, and what it really looks like to be a black person in America today.

Rarely am I at a loss for words. Words are what I do… and yet since Ferguson, I have been unable to translate my confusion, my anger, my sadness, into sentences.

Perhaps it’s because this civil unrest feels so time-warped that I don’t comprehend it well. Or perhaps it’s because I know that I must listen more than I speak right now – that I must listen with an open ear and an open heart to the voices that matter most. The voices that know.

Because of my Asian background, I don’t necessarily live in the space that is white privilege… but I do live with the privilege of not being black. I don’t think I’ve ever written a sadder and truer statement than that.

The following is a guest post from a dear friend and old roommate. His name is Fannon Holland. He is a husband, a father, and a slam-poet extrordinaire.


Fannon Holland


Forgive me
Forgive me if I do not believe you
Forgive me if I do not believe you when you say all lives matter
Founding fathers fled Europe in conflict
Landed and settled in conflict
Pushed their violent notion of democracy all the way to the Pacific Ocean
in conflict
So forgive me if I do not believe you
When sports fans use violence to riot after hockey games
You forget it
When police use violence to snap a man’s neck
You ignore it
When citizens use violence to burn down communities
You condemn it
When a mother uses violence to get her son out of the streets
You applaud it
When forefathers use violence to colonize native land
You white wash it then stand
on privilege and proclaim that you do not understand violence
Forgive me if I do not believe you
It seems to me you have an intimate understanding of violence
How else would you be able to manipulate the narrative so well
You could not stand Robert Johnson
So you gave us Elvis, Clapton and Led Zepplin
You could not stand the Jitter Bug
So you gave us the Lindy
You could not stand Esther Jones
So you gave us Betty Boop
It’s a cultural bait and switch all over again
You could not stand our native tongues
So you gave us the ole Funk & Wagnalls
You could not stand our ebony gods
So you gave us Christianity
You could not stand civilizations far more ancient than your own
So you gave us a trans-Atlantic lesson in white supremacy
You could not stand black lives matter
So you gave us all lives matter
Forgive me if I do not believe you
When you ask why did he run from police
Instead of why did they shoot him in the back
Forgive me if I do not believe you
When you are more concerned with broken windows
Than you are with broken necks
Forgive me if I do not believe you
When indigenous women disappear into apathy
Just as fast as bullets disappear into black bodies
Forgive me if I do not believe you
All lives matter is not a solution
It is a rebuttal
Black lives matter is an awareness of the struggle
A remembrance of stolen bodies and lost lineage
All lives matter is a white washing of heritage
Against the blackboard of history
This is history
This is history
This is history
This is history
This is history
This is history repeating itself
We are the sons and daughters of history
So forgive me if I do not believe you
We are the sons and daughters of severed limbs and torn out tongues
Black fists cracked skulls shackled feet burning lungs
Broken hearts
Broken backs and broken homes
We are the sons and daughters of dreams deferred
We are the sons and daughters of history
So forgive me if I do not believe you
When you say all lives matter
Because history teaches us that some lives
Clearly matter more than others



Black Lives History



16 responses to “Forgive Me If I Do Not Believe You.”

  1. Debbi says:

    Amazing, Fannon. Heartbreaking. Amazing.

  2. Kat says:

    YES! Is there a YouTube video of this anywhere? I would love to see it. It is humbling and real and devastating all at once.

  3. Amanda says:


  4. AJ Collins says:

    Powerful and true,
    Sad and yet indignant.

    Perfect. Beautiful.

    My words are broken into single frames. Thank you.

  5. Bette says:

    Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you for giving voice, for not minimizing, for validating the reality of my blackness.

  6. Janet says:

    SOB. That’s a cry, not an acronym. I’m ashamed to be white.

  7. Amy Phoenix says:

    Thank you for creating the space for this, for listening, for writing and for sharing. Powerful, honest, definitely a voice to be heard.

  8. A mom trying not to see colors says:

    This poem and the presentation of it were a turning point for me today. It helped me reach a point where I could finally wrap my mind around the issues I can’t see in MY community. The poem hurt to read. It pressed the buttons that I wished didn’t exist.
    My hope is that history is not an exact repetition, but that with each generation we are a step further from the mistakes of our predecessors.
    I read it from a friend and shared it on my own FB wall. If there is anyway to find a more relevant front photo it may help bring other readers in. Perhaps a peaceful protest photo, one that won’t set off arguments and opinions before even clicking.

  9. […] and a post was by guest blogger and slam poet Fannon Holland, titled “Forgive Me If I Do Not Believe You.”  He […]

  10. Justin says:

    I agree that black people have suffered so much in history and continue to suffer. It isn’t fair how they suffered and continue to suffer by ridiculous people who can’t see past the color of their skin. I just want to add let’s also not forget the many more people that have suffered beyond our borders of the U.S. There are too many sufferings that have happened and continue to happen in all parts of this world to all types of people and I feel dumbfounded not knowing what we could do to help them.

  11. Love this. Linked it in a blog post about pool segregation. Sharing on my facebook wall also.

  12. Jamie Dedes says:

    Jenni, I am so very moved by the grace and poignancy of Fannon Holland’s poem. We publish an eZine “The BeZine” and the theme for the June issue which we’ll publish on June 15th is “diversity.” Here is a link to the last issue:
    Here is a link to our Intro and Mission statement:

    I wonder if you would be so kind as to connect me with him. I would love to include his poem in our June issue. He can contact me at

    Bravo to you for this post and for including Fannon’s poem. Well done, Jenni.

  13. […] “History teaches us that some lives clearly matter more than others.” —Fannon Holland at Jenny Chiu’s […]

  14. Jenny says:

    YES!!! YES!!! Again and again. Tune to listen, time to be honest, time to find a real, honest path to equality.

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