Poetry Wednesday – “No One Is Beside Me”

In 1984 the Norfolk District Attorney Bill Delahunt’s  Civil Rights Unit created an initiative they called the Student Alliance Against Racism and Violence . They reached out to schools and community leaders to fight bigotry and intolerance in schools and communities. Every high school had a chapter of the Alliance. The program was well received in the communities especially among the police department who assigned officers to participate in It,

In 1985 to continue the interests of the students, whom Delahunt called the true stars of the program, a creative writing contest was instituted that encouraged the students to write about their experience in life and at high school. Here is a poem submitted by Krista Olson.

No One Is Beside Me

I do not talk

there is no one who will listen.

I do not look,

there is no one to see

No one talks to me

because in their eyes

I do not exist.

Because I am a freak.

Since I am black

No one walks beside me.

Krista Olson,  North Quincy High School


  1. William M. Connolly

    There are few saints, and even they admittedly have done some bad things, sins of omission/commission . . .sometimes the greater sin is to be silent.
    – All good men do bad things. Scripture says the good man falls ten times a time.
    – Some good men repeatedly do bad things: get drunk, use drugs, gamble excessively, philander, slander.
    – Some good men become consumed by bad things: alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling addiction, sex, theft, abuse of power.

    – Evil men, I recently read, are men who think the bad they do is good. An example, a federal prosecutor or media-type who singles out one relatively innocent man for persecution/prosecution in order to nail another perhaps more powerful relatively innocent man; this evil becomes greater when the prosecutions/persecutions/slanders are done by a Jihadi-Javert type, on a holy mission to nail a political enemy. See Bolt’s play, A Man for All Seasons. The even greater evil is when the persecutor aims not just to defame or incarcerate, but to destroy the target, his family, his kin, to kill or drive to suicide.

    “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do and say nothing.”

  2. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/jul/22/four-year-old-lands-book-deal-poetry-nadim-shamma-sourgen-kate-clanchy

    Four-year-old lands book deal for his ‘astonishing’ poetry
    Nadim Shamma-Sourgen’s words, evoking a ‘whole world full of hugs’, were spotted by the writer Kate Clanchy and will be published next summer

    • William M. Connolly

      MSFREEH, good poetry from another youth and your post is apropos of the subjective matter. Please see my above post which expounds upon the concept of “baddies”, good versus not so good.

  3. william m. connolly

    On the broader issues I once again agree 100% with NC and also like Honest Abe’s story about the folks in Bethesday. . . .I use to work there and in Rockville. I thought the women who testified against Kavanagh was mentally ill and a liar.

    2. I’ve gone to school with and worked with many blacks who are grateful they are Americans, and some are physicians and some are Veterans. I have written about the triumph of multi ethnic, multi racial America.

    3. Here is a list of Americans I recommend Matt and others read and watched being interviewed: Thomas Sowell, Walt Williams, Larry Elder, Ben Carson, Hershel Walker, Morgan Freeman, Katrina Pearson, Leo Terrel, Ben Watson, Candice Owens, JC Watts, Shelby Steele, Star Parker, Alan West, Jim Scott, Herman Caine, Clarence Thomas, Bob Woodson, Bill Buckley and Pat Buchanan . . .to mention a few.

    4. Matt you have falsified what I have written by claiming I call someone bad if he is pro choice and someone good, no matter what he does, if he is pro life. I restate: the killing of unborn human beings is bad, is wrong, can rarely be morally justified, I’ve postulated that in every circumstance, physicians should strive to save both lives, and abortion done only when that is not possible. Simple.

    I do denounce Bill Delahunt and others who support abortion by their silence or by their acquiscence or by their open advocacy of Roe v Wade, which de facto allows abortion at will throughout pregnancy. I do denounce politicians who favor open borders and who favor abortion. I have never said that a person is bad because he is pro choice. I do not know Bill Delahunt’s soul, nor his private life, nor the extent to which is a good or bad person. I wrote that he has done good things in his life.

    So, please Matt: Stop Falsifying my words. I do not know if Fred Wyshak beats his dog or helps the poor, I know that he is the most corrupt power abusing federal prosecutor I have ever read about. I know that Bill Delahunt unapologetically and unqualifiedly supports the killing of the unborn . . .that is bad. Whether he is a bad man or a good man I do not know. I know of many persons who have lived good lives and done good things who support abortion on demand, open borders, higher taxes, etcetera.

    • William:

      You say people who are not against abortion are doing a bad thing. You say people who are against abortion are doing a good thing. Take Trump, he has led a scandalous life but because he has a position which you consider “good” you support him; then there’s Biden who has led a a mostly fine and upstanding life and because he has taken a position which you consider “bad” you do not support him. Your whole outlook is based on the abortion issue. Has there ever been a candidate who is not against abortion who you supported?

  4. I would love to be Black, in my twenties and be Zion Williams or Pat Mahomes. I’d love to be Irish in my thirties and be Tyson Fury. You don’t know if that girl was shunned or she just read Ralph Ellisons Invisible Man and made a poem out of it. Kids get shunned all the time in high school. Bosses get shunned by their underlings. It has nothing to do with race. Plus your example is 35 years ago. We know what happened 35 years ago. Dr. Blasey Ford went to a party she forgot about for 35 years but miraculously remembered when Kavanaugh was nominated. Does any one from that High School corroborate her account or is it a fantasy like Dr. Ford’s? Why do you ignore Don Lemon? You watch CNN? It must be true if CNN reports it. 2. The urban schools are failing because Liberals run them and forbid competition. The racial makeup of a school is irrelevant. The top high school in Virginia has only 13% White students. Less than 10% Black and Latino. It is majority Asian. Suburbanites only let a handful of Blacks in their schools. School choice is essential for progress to be made but the Liberals block it.

    • NC:

      You would love to be black in your twenties only if you were some kind of sports star. What about an ordinary black guy? You were Irish in your thirties.

      The girl who wrote the poem wrote it at the time, it was not some recollected memory. Sure there may have been other reasons to shun her because she was poor, she dressed poorly, or she was overweight or underweight. Why can’t you accept her at her word? Then you want someone to corroborate it? What kind of foolishness is that. The girl wrote what she felt.

      I ignore Don Lemon and whoever belongs to the libertarian party because they seek to destroy America. It is an idea that advances the rich over the downtrodden. People on top like to pull up the ladder.

      Urban schools are failing because they have to take everyone in unlike the private or parochial schools. Where do kids who aren’t liked in the parochial schools go? To the public schools. Does the top high school in Virginia have a name? What is the percentage of black students? Oh, less than ten percent. What is that supposed to prove. Your whole argument is that blacks are confined to the cities and city schools are awful therefore blacks are supposed to get a poor education. They aren’t welcome in other than token numbers in the suburban schools.

    • “Dr. Blasey Ford went to a party she forgot about for 35 years but miraculously remembered when Kavanaugh was nominated. Does any one from that High School corroborate her account……”

      She did not miraculously remember anything. It was there all the time. She just brought fourth her memories. But but but……Let me continue.

      I am a carpenter as some here know, and I work for a lot of the upper crust in Bethesda and Chevy Chase. Several high end realtors use me because I always can make time. Last minute walk-throughs can be a real problem if a floorboard is cracked or a bathroom wall tile is missing. I have hung around with many of these ladies for many years and we are friends as well as work associates. They grew up with Ford and knew her well both in and out of school.

      The good Doctor Ford was probably telling kind of like it was. The truth is, she was not a nice girl. I mean she was a nice girl, but not a good girl. You don’t go visit Mike Tyson at 3:00 am and not expect to have sex with the world heavyweight champ and you don’t go to a known keg party with a bunch of guys you know are always on the hunt and excuse yourself early because you have to get up the next morning to knit teapot cozies with your grandmother. She just turned it into an assault. As far as my realtor friends are concerned, and I am repeating it here second hand, she could be kind of loose in that area. There may have been some resistance on her part. Maybe he wasn’t her first choice. And I’m not saying he was not doing something wrong, but I saw a lot of eyes rolling in sockets and head shaking when I listened to their story. They thought it was kind of funny. Hand to God.

  5. Very poignant, Matt. Thanks. I will mention in passing that the NYPD shut down an “Occupy City Hall” encampment in City Hall Park early this morning. The camp was established about a month ago as a Black Lives Matter protest. But most of the BLM protesters are long gone. The encampment has filled with homeless men and what might be called riffraff. The cops pushed out the campers and broke down the tents and crude huts. The Sanitation Department moved in after the cops and cleaned up the entire area. Graffiti was scrubbed away. There were seven arrests. The operation might have been launched sooner, but I thought the timing was pretty good. The encampment had become nothing more than a public nuisance, and it was treated accordingly. It was nice work by Dermot Shea, the police commissioner. Should credit the Sanitation Department too.

    • Dan:

      That’s what happened to the Occupy movement in New York City. Had some real liberal friends who were in New York City and decided to visit where the Occupy Wall Street movement had set up their encampment. They came back disgusted. The place was filled with drug addicts, dealers and other people who had not idea about the original purpose of the movement. That was what happened in Seattle. The committed ones slowly leave; others with no goal in mind take over.

  6. William M. Connolly

    My heart goes out to those like the young poetess Krista Olsen who felt alienated from society, friendships and from life itself, because of her skin color, race, ethnicity, or religion she grew up in. Genetics, from conception, determine skin color (pigmentation) race, ethnicity and our parents inculcate religious views and values into us since childhood. As adults, we freely choose religious practices and values.

    Richard Wright’s Native Son I read when a teenager and was profoundly moved by his descriptions of racism and how a young man was falsely accused by structural racism in law enforcement and society at large (the press, e.g.). Reminded me of Kafka’s The Trial. Wright’s other works and allegiance with the Communist Party of America resulted in his further false persecution by the FBI, State Department and CIA when he moved to Paris, as did James Baldwin.

    It is good to know our history, good and bad. Each person, Herman Hesse wrote, must decide for himself what is right and wrong, and even the Catechism of the Catholic Church expressly recognizes The Primacy of the Informed Individual Conscience.

    Must reading for any thoughtful American is all of Thomas Sowell’s works, especially trenchant were Ethnic America and Cosmic Justice. The scholar and true intellec Sowell, a former U.S. Marine, accurately points out that structural racism is a thing of the past. Racism, discriminating based on race is against the law in America, but some haters still exist; a small minority; in all races.

    Some people hate whites; some hate Asians; some hate Russians, Israelis, the English for past wrongs, perceived or factual. Some linger in the past with their hatreds and biases and cannot free themselves from past affronts, real or imagined. No law can eradicate hatreds which exist in bigoted individuals hearts and minds.

    2. Bill Delahunt did some good in his life: Focusing on educating students about racism and bigotry was good.

    Bill Delahunt also was a lifelong (political life) pro-abortionist who never lifted his voice nor his finger to save or protect human beings in the womb. Some Democrats had the courage of their convictions to continue being pro-life even after it was not politically advantageous to do so in the increasingly demonic and deranged, increasingly socialist, increasingly anti-life and anti-free speech (the St. Pat’s Parade Case, e.g., Academia today with its speech codes and “safe spaces) increasingly “politically correct” Big Government, Tax & Spend Democratic Party.

    I commend pro-life politicians who have stuck to their convictions throughout their political career like Congressman Stephen Lynch of South Boston, Congressman Joe Moakley of South Boston, the longest serving Senate President in Massachusetts history, Bill Bulger (also the retired President of the University of Massachusetts) of South Boston, and State Senator Paul White of Dorchester, to mention a few.

    There are sellouts like Delahunt, who have advanced their careers by conforming to every aspect of the Democratic Party Platform which includes blind allegiance to the pro-choice (pro killing of the unborn) platform, and there are politicians who are even more extreme than Delahunt like Joe Biden who not only adheres to Roe v. Wade like Delahunt has but promises to codify Roe v. Wade via Congress, to make abortion on demand throughout all nine months of pregnancy the statutory law of the land. Apparently Joe forget Planned Parenthood v. Casey modified Roe v. Wade., but beyond that Biden and Delahunt show no concern for the killing of human beings in the womb, although Biden once supported the Hyde Amendment for decades, but now since running for President opposes it. (For further reading, see the book “One LIfe, How the U.S. Supreme Court Deliberately Distorted the History, Science and Law of Abortion” (Xlibris, 2003) by William M. Connolly, MPH, JD 2003)

    Conclusion: Racism is bad; killing unborn human beings in the womb is bad.

    • William:

      I’m always amazed that no matter how much good a person does in his or her life that person is bad because he or she is for choice; and no matter how much evil a person does in his or her life that person is good if he or she is against abortion at any stage of the pregnancy. It’s nice to have such a black and white view of the world.

  7. No one can name one racist cop or court official in the last 30 years in Norfolk County because there is no systematic racism in America today. 60 years ago it existed. Not now. CNN’s Don Lemon seven years ago pointed out what the problem in the Black community was. It was a breakdown of the family. Over 70% of children were born out of wedlock. Very few in tact two parent households existed. The trouble oh Ceaser is not in our stars( racism) it is in ourselves. Blacks succeed in spite of what any individual racist may do. If they fail it has nothing to do with systematic racism. Blacks do better in America than in any other country in the world. 2. If you want to improve Black lives give the parents school choice. Charter schools and vouchers. Biden wants no school choice. He wants to trap minorities in failing public schools. What does it say about those suburbanites who won’t allow minorities in their schools or send their kids to private schools yet will back Biden and his punitive no choice program? Do they knowingly consign the urban public school students to a 2nd rate education? Isn’t that bigotry? 3. Larry Elder says the Welfare system is the problem. LBJ’s great Society destroyed the Black family. It has to be re done.

    • NC:

      Simple question. Would you like to be a black person. All what you write does not address the lament in the poem of being shunned in high school by others. Why do you not talk about that? You purposely avoid the point of poem. It is one individual going to school and she is boycotted because she is black. Nothing to do with breakdown in family; it’s a breakdown in America.

      2. Suburbanites let black children be sent to their schools; they don’t want their kids sent to city schools. Charter schools and vouchers can only educate some kids; the majority have to go to public schools. Public schools fail because whites boycott them. What does it say about conservatives who want to destroy the public schools and fund other schools which can select their students? It is the conservatives who consign the public schools to a second rate education. Ever hear of white flight. Ever hear how whites fled from the Boston schools to avoid going to school with black children.

      3. Who cares what Larry Elder says? What’s with referencing a small minority of black commentators to suggest the great majority is wrong. You might as well cite what Pat Buchanon says which is the same thing as Elder. What was going to happen without the Welfare system? How were people going to live. The real Welfare system in US is the benefits conferred upon the wealthy. Look at that and stop picking on the poor and downtrodden.

      • I cannot think of a more irrelevant question than “Would you rather be black in Timbuctu” What answer would be acceptable? We are what we are. If some said “yes”, would you trust the answer? How can we assume to know an other’s experience? A whole race of experiences?

        • I have never wanted to be anyone else no matter what that person did or had or accomplished. Its an absurd wish, in my opinion. Has anyone here really met someone and thought, “I would give anything to be them.”?

  8. Excellent poem! Bravo alek young poet.