Ekphrastic Prose from Sandra Rogers-Hare



Count them on one hand

times we witnessed an event as a nation

      Apollo moon landing in collective awe

      Washington Mall, swearing in Barack Obama

      Paris. Replays of Princess Diana’s deadly car crash—

George Floyd died under the knee of a policeman

throngs of people and three officers looked on

Americans wrenched in pain, my hand flew to my lips

      He took his dying breath,


Americans moaned, Ahhh nooo

      That happened?

People all over the world witnessed Floyd’s death

It changed the dimensions of America

That day George Floyd died,

      so did the brittle transparent bubble

      that separated me from society.  Snap! 

      American consciousness changed.

Now, we say we need to learn about African Americans. 

We don’t know who they are.

Black  conjures slavery, church-going folks, poverty, drugs, urban crime.  

Dialogue flies across the airways

      the words pile up between us

      we’re not really closer,

      not as close as that intimate moment          

      George Floyd drew his last breath.

So, we’re all dealing with this

taking the measure of all things in our lives

What?  Jacob Blake?!  Police shot him in the back.

      Seven times.

      Plucked his shirt, stretched as Jacob bent to get in his car

      his three young sons in the back seat


African Americans:  Images of Mammy, plantations, cotton picking

People don’t know the amazing things Africans did. 

Mansa Musa, the tenth ruler of the Mali Empire

      Was richer than Jeff Bezos

      Mansa Musa went to Cairo and spread so much gold around

      He broke the economy

      Amazon smiles

Jacob Blake’s family knew their history.

His parents were educated, enlightened people,

Helped people in Evanston, where Jacob grew up. 

Americans didn’t know that or about

      All those years of slavery, abuse

      Forced labor even after slavery was abolished         

      All those years

      Shackled to a stone blocking the American dream

After all those years, all that education, all that enlightenment

Jacob Blake is in a coma in a hospital in Kenosha, Wisconsin

handcuffed to his bed.

      After all those years,

      and all that history,

      Jacob Blake, the black man,

      is still in chains.

August 23, 2020


On May 25, the day George Floyd died

at the hands of the Minneapolis police, both CNN and MSNBC

stopped posting the daily coronavirus count. On that day, everything changed.

What does COVID-19 have to do with the anguished cries of a dying man pinned under the knee of a veteran police officer, hands in his pockets, leaning in with determination?

What does 400 years of institutionalized, cultural and systemic racism have to do with a pandemic?

The police stopped and harassed Mama and my father

driving around St. Paul, Minnesota in the ’40s—

a white woman with a black man.

I can see them now, her blonde hair lilting

she snaps her head around, tense,

and my father, cool, a cigarette dangling from his mouth,

asks languidly, what’s the problem, officer?

He was better educated, more articulate than the police,

probably nattily dressed in slacks and sport coat for his lady.

It wasn’t his first time being stopped.

He attended communist party meetings where they discussed

racial prejudice and revolution.

Police abuse is common knowledge in the Twin Cities,

common as wallpaper, 

racial tensions have been simmering at a steady burn since forever. 

Floyd George was not the only one. There are countless others.

His killing catalyzed demonstrations across the country,

indeed, around the world,

Floyd George was actually the fifth death

at the hands of Minneapolis police since 2018.

A plague and a pestilence. 

Sandra is a renegade artist and writer, and the founder of the Genghis Khan Urban Guerrilla Research Society.