An American Reckoning in the Fifth Dimension

Marching arm in arm
people express collective rage and
protest thin blue line vigilante justice:
judge, jury, executioner—guilty by reason of color
protesting racism in post-racist America? Again? and again?
this isn’t déjà vu; it’s Groundhog Day time looping in The Twilight Zone
Rod Serling, the Zone’s creator/narrator, said:
“There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man…
it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge.”

Riot gear cops advance in tactical phalanx opposition
shoving clubbing shooting arresting protestors
shrieks of pain pierce tear gas clouds like audio lightening
as rubber bullets rain non-lethal agony and cops laugh
Kevlar plated robocop transformers
whose programmed algorithm = confrontation trumps conversation
And cops still fear dark skinned people like
children fear monsters under the bed
fear + (badges x guns) = lethal algebra.

Protests tempt the uninformed to conclude
riots reveal something new
those of us who lived through the sixties
we know what seems new is really the same ol’ thang
we know riots draw the curtains hiding
American’s unspoken doctrine guiding race relations:
state sanctioned violence to keep minorities in their place—
reminding us the Constitution was written by white men for white men
the fairness of its laws applied in proportion to the fairness of skin—
we know We the People can’t legislate acceptance over hatred
when hatred is a tool for control and indoctrination and
we know racists merely slunk into the shadows
like cockroaches hiding from the light.

Serling tells us The Twilight Zone is where
“Ordinary people find themselves
in extraordinarily astounding situations….”
Ordinary people wielding smartphones—
spotlights illuminating masques of hatred:

Instant Internet video uploading:
Facebook, Instagram, YouTube: digital swords, hi-tech weapons.
Justice is blind, the Internet is not.

Injustice at the click of a mouse
viral video sullies police brand.
Justice is blind, the Internet is not.

Video-taping video-sharing video-shaming
a Twilight Zone extraordinarily astounding solution.
Justice is blind, the Internet is not.

No, racism never went away
it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge
And now the Internet has shown the world:
racism isn’t a Twilight Zone episode
it’s a reality show streaming live starring America
and the cockroaches now bask in the light.

Joe Menchaca is an emerging writer who writes fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. He holds a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Denver. Read other articles by Joe.