Conundrum – A Prose Poem in Response to the Murder of George Floyd and So Many Others

There are many words I could use to describe the systemic racism in the USA.

“Disgusting.”

“Widespread.”

“Horrendous.”

But there is one word in particular that I think describes the current situation very well.

conundrum (noun)

co·​nun·​drum | \ kə-ˈnən-drəm  \

1.  An intricate and difficult problem.

“Intricate” describes America’s racism perfectly. It’s so deeply engrained in our society; threads woven and stitched upon each other, interlaced until the blanket was big enough (powerful enough) to cover every state, county, town.

“Difficult” is an understatement, however. “Arduous” is a better fit because, unfortunately, the fight is going to be a long one. The change needs to be momentous, everything gutted from the inside out. Smoothed down to a clean slate, one that is untarnished, just, and compassionate enough to never become polluted again. Brick by brick, stone by stone, slab by slab, board by board. There cannot be even one tainted piece of timber or rubble left over from the past.

2. A question or problem having only a conjectural answer.

The current “protocol” in our system is based almost entirely on conjectures – or discriminating speculations.

“I thought he was running from the law.”

“It seemed like they had a gun.”

“He looked suspicious (because of his skin color).”

“She spoke Spanish, so I assumed she was an immigrant or illegal alien.”

Prejudices like these should not be the deciding factor in life-or-death situations. Facts and moral decency are what matter, not skin color.

And even if someone is guilty of something, your first response should not be to pull the trigger or place your knees on their windpipe, to silence them with brute force. Your first thought should be about equal human rights.

3. A riddle whose answer is or involves a pun.

It’s not exactly a pun but “Protect and serve” and “Land of the free” have become a joke to some of the very people meant to uphold these ideals. These words are now riddles – twisted, misleading statements that make this country as hypocritical as it is bigoted.

There are many other words besides “conundrum” that we can use to describe the systematic racism in the USA.

“Appalling.”

“Harrowing.”

“Monstrous.”

But we won’t be satisfied – people of color will not truly feel safe and live free – until the only adjective that can be used to describe racism is “nonexistent.”


Black live matters. Please donate to the Black Lives Matter global network or other organizations that are standing in solidarity against racism. You can also sign petitions to help get the word out.

As a white person, I am privileged. If there was any part of this poem that offended in any way, please let me know so I am better educate myself and make any necessary changes.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: