Incarceration Nation

Judge Clemons’ White Mask

By Richard Wright’s Daughter, Julia Wright

she so prettily

and photogenically

looked straight

into the camera

to claim

that she was concerned

about racial healing

only to send the author

of fourteen

curriculum prescribed

books on

the racist disease


to death by incarceration


a show of empathy


she spoke

oh so very eloquently

of a lynching in her family


to send Mumia back

to slow burn lynching

on the basis of testimony


with the studied


of a Black Madonna and child


her mascara-shadowed

sorrowful eyes

she expressed her concern

for her sons

in a racist society

only to send

our Native Son

back to death by incarceration

she is careful

to speak -

shall we do another take?—

of peace and reconciliation—

but she selectively forgets

that the late Archbishop Tutu

its original architect

called for the immediate release

of Mumia

whom he went in to meet

the iconography

she chose

for her promotional video

is full

of footage on Black Lives Matter

but she decided

that even if Mumia had proved

his claims

it did not matter

She primly


that it is always time

to do the right thing

but to Mumia she said:

your claims

are either already litigated


time barred


in two-timing mode

she took her own tortuous time

to judge

that our ailing elder Mumia

did not

have time

on his side

© Julia Wright. May 1st, 2023. All Rights Reserved to Mumia Abu-Jamal’s and Wadiya’s children.

Note: Judge Clemons is the Pennsylvania judge who on March 31, 2023, ruled against Mumia Abu-Jamal’s appeal in a blatant assault on fairness against the frame up of an innocent man who has already served four decades in prison. Each verse in this extraordinary poem refers to a video of the judge recorded for the Philadelphia Catholic archdiocese where she posed as an advocate for racial justice and healing.