Are We Under Attack


Say their names
Ahmaud Arbery / Breonna Taylor
I can’t breathe
George Floyd
Are we under attack
“2010“ Aiyana Stanley Jones
Gone but not forgot
Are we under attack
2nd guessing police protection
The untimely demise of so many
Is why I’m stressing
Feeling like a target
In my complexion
A shade I can’t rest in
Until I’m finally resting
Are we under attack
Tamir Rice / Michael Brown Jr.
Are we under attack
6, 7, 8/20, 21, 22/34, 35, 36/48, 49, 50
I lost count after that
Are we under attack
Those are your murders
So explain that
“Just us” in fact
How unjust is that
Justice don’t run in black
Are we under attack
So what am I to do
When your animosity
Stands between
Are we under attack
When black lives matter
To “us”
Not you
Are we under attack
What I refuse to do
Hate you back
The lack of equality
The injustice system
I hate that
Undermines my hue
Enforces the barrier between
Are we under attack
We were created equal
Slavery was abolished
Segregation your sequel
Are we under attack
Say their names
You got the answer to that
Are we under attack
See the cultural diversity
On the front line screaming facts
“Black Lives Matter”
That so many
Support your crap

Author’s Note:

Throughout this writing I frequently refer to are “we“ under attack.

I purposely used “we” rather than “are blacks under attack,” simply because the use of ”we” is my personal endeavor to pay homage to the vast majority of Whites, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, and others that unite under the banner of seeking justice, enforcing the constitution and advocating that Black Lives Matter.

Each and everyone of you are deeply engraved in my usage of “we”!

In solidarity,



  1. Angela on September 18, 2021 at 3:01 PM

    where to start? This poem was emotion provoking, moving, inspiring, and real. This is truly a wonderful piece of writing, and I can’t express that enough. As a person who is visibly white, I will never be able to fully understand exactly how you and many others feel on such a profound level, but I am here with you. I am saddened by the state of this country and our justice system, and I am infuriated by the inequity and injustices that plague this nation and so many people of color. What I would like to say to you today though is this: I promise you that I will never stop fighting for you and so many others. You will always have an ally in me. However, this reply isn’t about me, this is about you and your incredible talent and abilities. Your are truly an amazing writer and poet. I hope that you will continue to write and continue to share your talents with the world. Your words are so powerful and you have so much to offer.
    Sincerely and in solidarity,

  2. Mona Villesvik on September 20, 2021 at 3:11 PM


    Wow! Your poem blew me away. I felt as though it would make a great song or rap, too. The line in which you wrote about “just us” and unjustness was incredibly clever and moving. All in all, this was a powerful homage and testament to those who’ve lost their lives due to police brutality.

    – Mona

  3. Canesha Taylor on September 20, 2021 at 3:29 PM

    This poem really caught my attention with everything that’s been going on in the world today. Reading from your poem perspective gives a person reading your poem more clear understanding of what’s going on and the feelings behind what’s going on in todays world. I really like how you though of using we to show not only is it black going through this situation but also other races and that is important to remember because in some way i feel like remembering that we all are going through these tough times can make our society stronger. I love your poem and I hope to read more.

  4. Cara on September 29, 2021 at 6:08 AM

    VC. Your use of “we” is right on. Powerful poem. Stay safe in there.

  5. Karen Green on October 16, 2021 at 6:51 PM

    Hi VC,
    It really touched me that although your poem details many horrible acts of bigotry, you emphasized that you would not make the choice to return hate with hate. In a 1958 book, Martin Luther King wrote, “An eye for an eye makes everybody blind.”

    Your poem reminded me of a song about prejudice in South Pacific ( it’s a musical play made into 2 movies which won Academy Awards, Tony Awards for Broadway, Grammy Awards, Pulitzer Prize and other awards.) I hope you will watch it one day or see some videos on YouTube.

    The song is called –You’ve Got To Be Taught. Here’s part of it.

    You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear
    You’ve got to be taught from year to year

    You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
    Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
    And people whose skin is a different shade—
    You’ve got to be carefully taught.

    Spoiler Alert- the woman this song was sung to—paid attention to the message and chose to overcome her prejudice

    Your poem really spoke to your message that hate is not inevitable.

    Also– thanks for the explanation about using “we”— we are all One World. Keep writing!

  6. D on October 16, 2021 at 9:56 PM

    I loved your poem .Are we under attack . I think we all as you have said are under attack . I love that you are inclusive and recognize it’s going to take all of us to stand against injustices . Keep writing!!! VC I love your style .

  7. emilylam99 on October 17, 2021 at 6:43 PM

    This was a powerful poem to read. I can feel the emotions that the author wants to present to the audience. I also love the flow of this poem and how each stanzas are written.

  8. Vern Blanco on October 17, 2021 at 7:00 PM

    This poem itself holds a lot of power. The message that it entails is that we were to give back to the community, we could achieve so much power and peace within ourselves.

  9. Vern Blanco on October 17, 2021 at 7:02 PM

    This is a very deep poetry. This will remind us of equality, and the cost of the fight that we are going through which is social injustice.

  10. Vern Blanco on October 17, 2021 at 7:07 PM

    This shows that our fight towards social injustice has its price. We have still a long way to go before we can completely rid of inequality and discrimination in our country.

  11. Sonny on October 17, 2021 at 9:38 PM

    Great poem and great message – it really resonated with me.

  12. K on October 17, 2021 at 11:55 PM

    You did a great job at conveying your message. I liked the usage of “we”.

  13. Bhavin on October 18, 2021 at 1:19 AM

    Very powerful poem. It attacks an important issue in society in a creative way.

  14. Divyaa Matta on October 18, 2021 at 10:13 PM

    I love the emphasis on the message of the poem through repetition. It really is sad that this is today’s reality. I also like the use of the one word lines.

  15. Biliana-Maria R Marcheva on October 19, 2021 at 10:42 PM

    Hi VC!
    Wow. As always, your work is incredibly powerful. My favorite lines are: “ What I refuse to do / Is / Hate you back / The lack of equality / The injustice system / Now / I hate that / It / Undermines my hue / Enforces the barrier between / Me / And / You”
    With every repetition of the rhetorical titular question, your point is driven home more profoundly. There is palpable division between racial lines in America. There is a clearly evident attack. Humans became so obsessed with the social construct of race, tying so much meaning to it that we’re willing to oppress one another for centuries. It discourages and enrages me to know there are people who are so untouched and unbothered by racism that they claim there IS no problem in how America treats her minorities.

  16. teachies on October 29, 2021 at 8:43 AM

    I love the use of “we” in this poem. And it has such a great rhythm! Thank you for sharing it!

  17. Gillian Fuhrmeister on October 31, 2021 at 12:56 PM

    VC, this poem is beautifully written. The lines, “Are we under attack
    6, 7, 8/20, 21, 22/34, 35, 36/48, 49, 50
    I lost count after that” are very impactful, and truly display the impact that police brutality has had on so many innocent lives.

  18. Zach Smith on November 2, 2021 at 6:28 PM

    this is a very well written poem. the use of line breaks and repeated lines for emotional impact is perfectly executed, and the overall poem flows like a story in motion. You gave proper respect to the difficult topics you tackled, and drove home the injustice of these social conditions that we are still fighting.

  19. C on November 9, 2021 at 9:21 PM

    I love this poem! The repeating of the title phrase makes the poem strong, along with the short lines which are like an “attack” themselves. I’m in full support of your message. Stay strong. Your voice is important.

  20. CALEB YUAN on November 9, 2021 at 9:25 PM

    Hi VC! Are We Under Attack is really a power poem that asks a rhetorical questions of “are we under attack” to advocate for the Black Lives Matter Movement. The frequent usage of “me”,”us” and “you” does create a direct confrontation and the rhyme schemes are really well used!

    There’s are something I would like to challenge you. If you ought to represent “us”, who are mutiracial and unified; then having some perspectives of personal stories (they can be real or fictional) through out some places of the poem. In this case, I am not saying one story per ethinicity, but instead, how different individual might see the movement in different lens yet still are called to achieve the collective goal of equity.

    Hopefully this helps!

  21. Jackalyn on November 9, 2021 at 9:50 PM

    Your poem is so powerful. The deliberate structure and you choices about when the break the line really help put emphasis on certain words; I feel like just by reading it I can hear the power of what it would sound like as spoken word.

  22. GB on November 12, 2021 at 8:25 PM

    Hi VC,

    Your poem is extremely moving and well written. The one word lines make your message more powerful and really pack a punch. The names also make your point startlingly real and your limited use of punctuation gives it a nice flow. I wonder how the flow and the strong message you have would sound if you added a question mark in the title and the lines “are we under attack.” A question mark would make the reader linger on that phrase longer, and might make your message more powerful. But, of course, that’s up to your intention as a poet. What an inspirational poem!

    Wonderful job and best wishes!

  23. Elle on November 17, 2021 at 1:05 PM

    This is a beautiful testament to the struggles we’ve seen in the BLM movement, especially as systemic injustice becomes more and more apparent to people like me who are not subject to it every day. I see so many tones of influence here – from MLK and Malcolm X to James Baldwin. I appreciate that this feels like it comes from the soul – it’s a perfectly imperfect poem that flows in free verse, and I can feel your heart in it. I hope that you continue to write poetry and express yourself – you have so much talent and so much to say that we need to hear.

  24. Meg McTaggart on November 17, 2021 at 1:07 PM

    I love the author’s note, and I think it is a great idea to say “we” to make more people feel the pain of what you feel. This is not just about Black Lives but away systematic injustice, and that affects everyone in society.

  25. Mary on November 17, 2021 at 1:26 PM

    I love the format you use here, spacing out “Me / And / You” is really unique. I also think the lines “A shade I can’t rest in / Until I’m finally resting” are so powerful and really made me stop and think.

  26. ken on November 19, 2021 at 2:25 PM

    This is one of the best poems I have read in a while. You made sure that everyone was involved in what you had to say. It was a refreshing piece that needed to be said. I also like how you kept on repeating “are we under attack”. It made the poem come back to what the point of your poem. Keep up the amazing work!!

  27. Ruth Bryant on November 28, 2021 at 10:23 AM


    I really enjoyed your poem. I encourage you to keep writing and share your work. I literally got chills as I was reading. This work flowed beautifully and the use of repetition and other literary devices made this piece exceptional.

    Although I appreciate the author’s note, I don’t think its necessary because of the lines “See the cultural diversity/ On the front lines screaming facts”.

    Thank you for sharing your work with me!

  28. Taylor on November 30, 2021 at 1:49 PM

    This is such a moving and lyrical piece of writing – it reminds me of the raw power of Gwendolyn Brooks or Sonia Sanchez’s work. Thank you for writing this – it will stay with me, and please keep writing. You are talented.

  29. tnicholson13 on December 7, 2021 at 1:18 PM

    VC, this poem is excellent. I love how you write what is in your heart. I think that there cannot be enough emphasis on listening to black people talk about their experiences and their feelings. In addition, the poem structure is really beautiful. I like how you block your lines off sometimes giving the poem a different sound.

  30. Carson Drake on December 9, 2021 at 4:40 PM

    I loved the use of formatting! the separation of Me from you in the structuring felt really powerful. I got chills when I read the line that “Justice don’t run in black”. Powerful poetry, and an important topic. Thank you for writing this.

  31. Uwase Blessed on December 17, 2021 at 1:10 AM

    Hey VC,
    I really love your poem, it’s so artistically beautiful, and full of so much passion. I love your use of “we”, and it’s explanation most importantly. I love it when you say that we choose to be the bigger people and not hate them back, that takes a lot of courage to think about, to believe in, and to write down. Thank you:)

  32. ballkaitlyn on December 26, 2021 at 10:31 PM

    This poem was a powerful tribute to the current state of policing and injustice in our country. I appreciate that you were able to state multiple names; I feel this is an important part of Black Lives Matter, as we need to remember them and say their names. The lines “feeling like a target / in my complexion / a shade a can’t rest in” were powerful to read. Incorporating the idea of a target can be looked at as a symbol of this movement. I enjoyed reading your poem because it tells a story. Not only does it highlight those who we have lost to police brutality and injustice, but also the experience that you have felt yourself. This is a very meaningful poem.

  33. Roxanne on January 8, 2022 at 10:42 PM

    Dear VC, I am really impressed by your creativity and approach. Your poem flows but also seems to sing because of the way it’s written. Your poem is a tribute and a torch. All the people that have lost their lives unjustly deserve to be remembered and have their names live on, I love to see a poem that honors them. Your call to action is personal and powerful and I think this is one of the best ways to gather support and momentum. Keep writing! Best wishes,

  34. KC on April 7, 2022 at 4:46 PM


    Thank you for holding our society accountable. I love the lines “a shade I can’t rest in” and “justice don’t run in black.” You have powerful words and thoughtful ideas. Continue to inspire through your work! Keep inspiring readers like me!

  35. Camryn on April 24, 2022 at 3:32 PM

    VC, this is a wonderful piece on police brutality. Though the subject matter is horrific, a problem we all want to disappear, your reminder of the Black Lives Matter movement is powerful. We need more people willing to call attention to this injustice as you have.

  36. EH on October 9, 2022 at 1:50 PM

    This was a very interesting way of articulating some of the atrocities going on in our country. I don’t hear anger and resentment in your words despite how justified you would be in feeling those emotions, but rather I hear disappointment and betrayal. It’s clear that you aren’t asking for some kind of war, you aren’t looking to fight or argue, you’re asking simply for what you deserve as an equal human being. It’s a “political” poem without being political at all, because what’s so controversial about trying to exist? A very thought-provoking poem.

  37. Oshane on October 11, 2022 at 11:25 AM

    Wow, your poem is very enlightening and provocative. It sheds light on the challenge that people of color as myself face and that we all want answers to. When will there be more justice for the black community? When will there be more equality amongst us and we will be treated as any other race? There are so many stories from the days of slavery until now that depict how there is still a struggle for equality and justice for the black community.

  38. Amelia on October 31, 2022 at 9:36 AM

    I truly love the meaning of this poem. The repetition of the phrase “Are we under attack?” is very powerful and I truly loved how you used “we” instead of stating just one group. Congratulations on a fantastic poem, keep up the good work.

  39. Emily on December 4, 2022 at 9:58 PM

    Thank you for this. You spoke the dang truth so well. The rhyming and the flow of the piece was incredible even without understanding the injustice of the communities attacked. Using us was a smart move. One that I think many are happy with because it’s not just the black communities affected it’s the other minorities who aren’t white men. It’s the people who support the undoing of the justice system’s biases and prejudices. You are an activist that needs to be heard.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

The poets featured here are currently incarcerated, and many of them are in federal prisons far from home. Your feedback is a valuable source of motivation and connection to the outside community. Post your comments, feedback, and encouragement in the space below the poem. Messages will be passed on directly to the author. Comments may not appear immediately on the site, as our team processes them to mail to the poets.