Why Are You Doing This To Me?

by Henry Hardee

I need to talk,
need to get something off my chest.
I ain't asking for nobody's sympathy
but I gotta tell somebody
about what happened to me.

I was pulled over by the cops
for wearing "Sweet Potato Pie" Lipstick.
They said that I looked like a prostitute.

They got all frantic like
I had on a teeny, tiny black teddy
and was doing a slow shimmy
on the stage of a strip joint.

When I told one of the cops "NO!"
I ended up in the Cook County Jail
waiting for a court date.

Those big overalls with
"DOC" stamped on them
that they made me wear
didn't flatter my figure
but made me look
like a teenager
trying to hide her pregnancy from her mother.

I was starring in an HBO film
called, "Strip Search".
A film by
Sheriff Michael Sheahan.

There were twenty of us in a bullpen.
Most of us were Black.

There was no privacy
not even a screen or sheet
for us to hide behind.

We were not women there.
We were reduced to the lowest common denominator--
"female detainees"

To the guards we were "hoes and bitches!"

They didn't give a Fuck about my rights.
They didn't give a Fuck about my dignity.

It was filthy in there.
Foul, wretched, putrid,
nauseating ordors
came from overflowing toilets
and made me feel like
I wanted to vomit.

They told me,
"Take off your belongings!"

I tried to keep on my sterling silver pendant
that I paid $100.00 for
with my kids birthstones on it:

Sapphire  (for my son Sheek who was born in September,)
Pearl (for my daughter Syleena who was born in June,)
Blue Topaz (for my son Slimm who was born in November,)
and Ruby (for my son Dream who was born in July)

but they wouldn't let me.

I stood before them naked.

I was uncomfortable, ill at ease
and self-conscious
in front of the other sisters
who were there.

I didn't want them looking at the
spider veins on my legs.

I didn't want them asking me about
my scars,
my blemishes
and my acne.

I was ashamed.

It was embarrassing.
It was harressment.

My insides were screaming,
"Why, are you doing this to me?"

I was on my period.

Menstrual blood was dribbling
down my leg.

They ordered me around,
"Ho, open your mouth."

I was told,
"Bitch, lift up your breasts."

I was told,
"Bitch get over here and
let me run my finger
through your hair
to see if you hiding
something up in them naps!"

I was told,
"Lift the folds of your stomach.
Fat bitch! You need to go to Jenny Craig!"

"Spread your butt, bitch!"

"Bend over, bitch!"

"Squat bitch!"

"Cough, bitch!"

"I don't like the way
that cough sounded
do do it again, bitch,

I didn't want to see
what they were getting
ready to do to me
so I closed my eyes
while the guard dog
sniffed at my private
looking for crack.

I closed me eyes and started planning
Slimm's birthday party.

I was thinking about going grocery shopping.
I was thinking about getting him a
Disney Character place setting
and fixin' him a bit breakfast.
I was thinking about going to "Rainbow Kids"
and getting him some new clothes.

I closed my eyes and I was seeing
me and my kids
at Disney World wearing Mickey Mouse ears.

I closed my eyes and I was
Pam Grier when she was a "Trophy Girl"
at the Academy Awards handing out
Oscar statuettes to celebrities.

I closed my eyes and thought about
those Battaglia shoes that
I ain't never gonna get.

I had no choice but to let them
do their evil to me.

I was thinking, "You assholes!"

I acted like I didn't have nothin' to say to them.

I acted like I had lockjaw
cause my life, my future was in their hands.

I did what they said because
I wanted to see my children again.

Why Are You Doing This To Me? by Henry Hardee

© Copyright 2001. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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