South Central Los Angeles Death Trip, 1982

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Although under the Fourteenth Amendment of U.S Constitutions, a state may not deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws and the equal protection means the government must treat similarly situated individuals in a similar manner, discriminations and stereotypes of races’ problems has never been solved perfectly. In the poem “South Central Los Angeles Death Trip, 1982”, Wanda Coleman uses a narrator identity to tell the reader nine cases about innocent people sacrificed their lives under the overuse of firearms from the police. Within the poem, Coleman uses her unique syntax, ironic commentaries, and different descriptions on victims to expresses her grievance against the police’s effronteries, her sympathy for the innocent victims , and at the same time to reveal the servileness and insignificance of black people’s lives at the time. Coleman uses her unique syntax to so reveal her anger. Throughout the whole poem, Coleman does not directly express her own opinions. The poem is written in free verse and she separates each case with numbers. The free verse without punctuations and use of numbers seem to create a rapid tone for the poem and show that the writer actually has a lot of things to tell. Such as “arrested him on suspicion of they say he became violent they say he become combative in the rear seat of the sleek zebra maria. they say it took a chokehold to restrain him and then they say he died of asphyxiation.” (Coleman, Case 1) The narrator seems to use a hastily tone to explain the reader the victim is innocent which likes a suspect tries to defend himself towards the officers. The numbers can remind the readers how many injustice cases they have read and how many grievance from the writer are accumulated. Each case follows a three-step pattern. First, it starts with a description of each victim’s “suspectable” behavior.

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