Testimony From a Tin House

The police are executing people in our streets.  The police are murdering Black and Brown people in front of us and are blaming the victims.  The media is largely enforcing false narratives.  Let’s face the facts.  This is not an undercurrent of a race war.  The talk of war is rhetoric that enables capitalists to control our fears and continue to profit from our bodies.  Even the police should have picked up on the fact that they are only protecting profiteers.  The real narrative is that the majority of people are sick and tired of the racist, classist, and sexist system.

It’s time for us to breathe deeply and see, for what it is, what we have become:  suspicious, selfish, and callous.  It’s time for us to breathe deeply and see what we can be.  Most of us only get to move through this world once.  Decide who you will be.  Be ready to bear witness and to testify against injustice.  It’s a very small burden for those of us with lighter skin.

In April 2014 Dontre Hamilton was murdered by police officer Christopher Manney in Red Arrow Park, in downtown Milwaukee.  He was frisked against protocol and threatened with the officer’s baton before being shot 14 times.  No criminal charges have been brought against Manney, though he was fired from the force in October of that year for instigating the conflict.

I wrote Tin House to help process my feelings of disgust and anger at our nation’s continued institutional racism, to help process my white guilt, to help process my sadness and denial, and to try to understand what it would feel like to be constantly put-upon by the false notions of strangers.  We now live in a tin house.  Each single drop echoes.  They are recorded and played back again and again.  History will no longer be written by the oppressors.  We all hear the rain in Sanford, Chicago, New York, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Ferguson, Baton Rouge, Dallas, Oakland…every city in the USA.   And still it continues.

In January of 2016 the Dakota Access Pipeline was approved despite the lack of any thorough environmental assessment.  The proposed oil pipeline would cross the Missouri River less than one mile from the Standing Rock Reservation, risking contamination to the immediate area and to the millions of people who rely on its water.  In April the Sacred Stone Camp was established to protect the water.  Since that time, the movement to protect the water has grown.  Militarized police have reacted to peaceful prayer and protest with the use of rubber bullets, mace, water cannons, and concussion grenades.  They chose to aggressively push aside the rights of our fellow citizens in order to push the agenda of a private corporation acting illegally on land that rightfully belongs to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

On January 20, 2017, a racist, sexist, narcissistic, and self-serving coward will become the President of the United States of America. Of the total U.S. population, 82% of Americans did not vote for him. My hope is that these tragedies will serve to galvanize this vast majority of people who understand that to seek a better life means seeking a better life for all.

Tin house

This is not the house I built.
This is not my home.
These strangers used to hold regard for those that toiled alone.
Look me in the eye and pray I keep this in my head.

Now whispers tell me one by one how blatantly they lie,
that men were made for greatness and that eyes were meant for eyes
Let the guard down, you fools are paranoid.
You’ll get what you deserve.
Fear will shake a hostile heart, you’ll get what you deserve.
Look me in the eye and pray I keep this in my head.

The rows are plowed, but they are paved so death will wash away
On foot we walk to raise the graves where future seeds may lay.

This is small gesture, but please accept this song as a gift, and consider donating to the following organizations:




At the least, I hope this song can provide some time for quiet contemplation, at best, a way to help process the wrongs and call for a better tomorrow.


Nathaniel Heuer

Hello Death



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