Hello, My Name Is Joe – A Piece in Support of Stricter Gun Control Laws

Happy New Year. 2013, it’s on. As I begin my walk through this new year, still carrying many of my 2012 luggage, I’m even more committed to creating work that addresses social issues that are important to me. Artist activist, all the way. I wrote this piece in support of efforts playwright Caridad Svich, with her NoPassport group, is making to generate a dialogue regarding gun control laws in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy – and in the wake of all the other tragedies that have occurred because of guns.

 

Hello, My Name Is Joe: A Piece In Support of Gun Control

by Amina Henry

 

1.

Bang. Bang Bang.

Hello, my name is Joe.

You can’t know what I go through

Or what I think,

What I feel,

Day after day.

We are strangers but let me tell you.

I was a little boy once whose parents loved him, whose teachers loved him, whose friends liked him well enough.

When I had friends.

I have lived in the same city my whole life,

A city with businesses

And houses

And schools

And families

And a low crime rate

And guns.

My father and I were warriors, we wore the blood of deer, and I have never been afraid even though sometimes I have felt other thing, lots of other things.

Bang. Bang Bang.

Listen to my native cry.

I am not afraid.

 

2.

Bang. Bang Bang.

Hello.

My name is Joe.

We’re in a revolution. Here. Now.

The vultures are circling. Look out for the vultures. Look at my arms, pecked by vultures. Look at my arms.

In this city that I’ve always lived in,

In this country that I’ve always lived in,

In this place of deep deep shameful things

Hidden underneath words

Hidden underneath the earth

Where we can try to forget the disgusting dried blood smell of disgusting secrets.

But I’m an American.

I’m a fucking American, a Native fucking American, not an Indian, a native with war paint on for the war on – the war on – revolution. The war on terror. Do you know what I mean? There’s terror and we are at war.

Are you a fucking American?

I am not ashamed of who I am.

I am not ashamed of. Who I am.

 

3.

Bang. Bang Bang.

So, my name is Joe and

Every morning I go to work

The other day I picked up a new gun from the Walmart because I have a right to do so, I have a right to bullets, I have a right to every bullet.

Sometimes I get angry. Sometimes I’m so upset. Because of – all this shit.

But I’m a good person , you know?

I’m just a regular person

and I pay taxes

and I work

and I go to Church every Sunday where I sing as loud as my voice can stand it.

As loud as anyone can stand it.  
I am good even though my arms are covered in the blood of the past,

even though I eat too much

and buy too much

and take too many drugs sometimes

and drink too many beers sometimes

and watch too much internet porn sometimes

and I get so very angry when I drive my car on the highway and some fucking

asshole cuts me off, or I have to wait in line, any line, and the movie I paid good money for sucks, and my family suggests that I’m not good enough

because I don’t have enough.

 

4.

Bang. Bang Bang.

My name is Joe.

The vultures are circling. Good thing I have arms. Look at my arms. These fucking people – but I’m not afraid, you know? I’m angry, but I’m not afraid.

Fuck 911.

Fuck the police.

Fuck the government.

Fuck this country.

But I love this country. And fuck the people who don’t belong here. I belong here, right here, I was raised on Wonder Bread and Kraft singles, I was raised on television where any average Joe – my name is Joe – can be a star.

I am a star and I need protection even though I’m not afraid,

Understand that,

I’m not afraid.

Who’s going to protect me? Against all the shit that could go down?

I’m not afraid even though the world is a scary place. Someone could get you in your sleep, pluck your eyes out, fuck you in the ass, make you cry, steal your car, steal your jewelry, steal your money, steal your things, leave you for dead and that person could be someone you know, someone you see every day in your neighborhood, some neighbor or even someone who looks like family.

But I’m not afraid.

I’m not afraid.

 

5.

Bang. Bang Bang.

I am Joe

And I have so much love inside

And so much hate inside

And so much human stuff,

So many memories

inside

And when I fire my gun it’s like the glorious song of a pressure cooker when

Everything is cooked and ready.

You want to fuck with me? I dare you to fuck with me. Because I’m not afraid. I don’t need an army to be a soldier. I don’t need a horse to be a cowboy. I don’t need a gun to be a man, but I want a gun,

And I have a gun,

And I’ll shoot my gun

Because it’s my right

Because I’m an American.

The other day I was wondering what it would feel like

To shoot through flesh

Like in the movies

Like on that television show

Like in that video game

Like in that song that I love so much I’ve played it a thousand times.

I was wondering and I was angry

Because I’m a good guy and there are so many bad guys,

Bad guys who’ll try to make a guy like me feel like

He doesn’t matter.

And these bad guys are tricksters because they can look like

Your wife

Or your girlfriend

Or your mother

Or your friend

Or your boss

Or some guy wearing the wrong colors on the wrong side of the street

Or little school children on their way to class

Who maybe one time said something not so nice

And people should always be nice.

Are you listening to me?

 

6.

Bang. Bang Bang.

I’m Joe

And I could kill something

or someone for looking at me the wrong way

on the wrong day

at the wrong time

because I just want to shoot

and feel that power surging through me,

that gun power

that American power

that manpower

that angry power

that human power

to fuck shit up,

and did you know that most people are shot by people that they know,

just like most rapes occur between people who know each other

and random acts of violence

are generally not random at all

in the random sense

because there is usually a definite aim

or reason

or pattern like the kind I’ve never seen

in a snowflake because

I don’t have those kind of eyes.

Look at my eyes.

Look at me. Look at Joe.

Bang. Bang Bang.

Joe is not afraid.

Joe is an American and Joe thinks

it’s gonna be a beautiful day.

It better be a beautiful day or

Bang

Bang

bang