Missouri violence leads MN poet to map ‘black rage’

Chaun Webster, co-owner of Ancestry Books in Minneapolis, has been wrestling with the shooting of Michael Brown, the ongoing upheaval in Ferguson, Missouri, and the history of violence on black and brown people in the United States.

Here's the result of his struggle.


towards a cartography of Black Rage

Grow the Future of Public Media

MPR News is Member supported public media. Show your support today, donate, and ensure access to local news and in-depth conversations for everyone.

i’ve been trying to draw a map this morning,

to chart the distance between

Black rage                                 and                                                dead Black bodies.

so far i’ve been outlining our ontology-

tracing round the landmass of Renisha, Aiyana, Eric, Michael-

the names become too many, the landmass too large.

i’ve been attempting to chart the scale of this rage,

to know its dimensions. i close my eyes to do a field measurement,

feel the acid building in my mouth.


fists tighten


wonder where this might take me now-

i give in to the logic of the   JUJU

                                                                       as in: collective memory

embrace the time machine of my body

and hold counsel with

George Jackson Nat Turner Touissant Louverture


hands still tightening

feel like root workers hands - executing their magic now.

i continue to tracing my steps

and the distance between

these bodies                 and         this rage

closer than i thought it was-

momentarily open my eyes now


find myself in a ghost story

i mean america

no i mean a ghost story.

america is a ghost story

and its tucked just beneath our skin

boiling in our blood.

no need to map the distance between

this rage and this body


all we need do is momentarily open our eyes

embrace the witness in our blood

hold a stubborn course,

the dead, the living and the unborn

circling round as we pronounce

the circumference, and the texture, and the depth

of the world we are no longer content to live without.

©Chaun Webster August 21, 2014

Reprinted with the permission of the author.