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Essential Uprising

A poem

In “Essential Uprising,” Demetrius Noble urges workers to organize to demand an end to alienation and the meeting of basic human needs.

Essential Uprising

When the minimum wage is gridlocked at $7.25
And I’m dedicated to the humble goal of staying alive
I must fight for the right to organize
Before my very eyes
I’m watching the price of everything skyrise
While my check’s paltry purchasing power plummets and nosedives
Who can survive off of measly $15.00 an hour
How do we fight back against these misers in power
I’m tired of trading in my life in exchange for pennies
How do we crush a system where a few get rich from exploiting many
Workers must organize to assert their power
We must unionize so we don’t get devoured
Within the ravenous fangs of profit-hungry bosses
Who treat our lives as bottom lines causing shareholder losses
My physical, mental and emotional wellbeing can’t be reduced to operational expenditures
I refuse to be disfigured
Dehumanized into dead digits and fractional figures
On corporate spreadsheets that function like Middle Passage manifests
Turning human beings into inanimate objects
The silent cogs in wheels who feed the machine their flesh
We graduated from 3/5 of a human on their constitution
To the gaudy and abundant amount of 1.5 of a person on a spreadsheet calculating headcount
Yet my paycheck doesn’t even account
For the singular needs of me

Let alone that whole half a person they squeezing out of me for free
A living wage and full benefits are not perks
They’re basic human rights for those that work
They are basic human rights for those that don’t work
And these basic human rights
MUST be the foundation on which we fight
And if the bosses object then we’ll go on strike
We’ll cripple the corporations because they’re NOTHING without us
The longer we strike the more we’ll realize our power
As we realize our power, we’ll grow more militant
Expanding our demands; sharpening our class consciousness
We’ll win a living wage, universal healthcare and universal housing
We’ll defund the police and abolish the prisons
Destroy every tentacle of this vicious system that upholds capitalism
We’ll smash the ruling class and reverse their corruptions
We’ll organize to unionize until we own and control the modes of production
From our labor we’ll no longer be alienated
The wealth they stole from us will be expropriated
And delivered back into the hands of the people until human need is satiated
Featured Image Credit: Nevena Pilipović-Wengler

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Demetrius Noble View All

Demetrius Noble (better known as D. Noble) is an activist, teacher, and radical cultural worker. He currently serves as an adjunct professor in the African American and Diaspora Studies Department at UNC Greensboro. His research interests include Black class antagonisms, African American literature, popular culture, and hip-hop studies. His work has been published in The African American Review, The Journal of Pan African Studies, The Journal of Black Masculinity, Socialism & Democracy, Works and Days, Cultural Logic, Red Wedge, and other leftist digital and print publications.

He is a member of Greensboro Revolutionary Socialists and resident cultural worker for Black Workers for Justice.