Letter to the Local Police


Jordan, June




June Jordan was a New York City-based writer, teacher, and civil rights activist whose novel, His Own Where, was a finalist for the National Book Award. “Letter to the Local Police” appears in her 1980 anthology, Passion, and is a satire on suburbia, racial prejudice, and the role of law enforcement. Jordan’s poem raises questions about tolerance and intolerance within communities, the responsibilities of the police, and the relationship between outsiders and insiders.

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Originally published in Passion (1980)


Reading - Short Enough to Read Aloud.


Exclusion and BelongingLeadership and ResponsibilitySpeech and Expression

Big Questions

Who gets left out and why?What do we expect from the people we lead? What do we expect from our own leaders?What does it mean to have a voice?Who has the right to speak for a community?


Taking Action

Sample Discussion Questions

  1. What do you think of this poem?
  2. How does the speaker feel about their community?
  3. Why does the speaker say that the roses show a disregard for “minimal traits of decency”?
  4. Is the poem serious or a satire? What do you think its message is?
  5. What is the responsibility of public authorities in our communities?
  6. What is the responsibility of residents and citizens?
  7. What kind of voice do you have in your community or workplace? How do you express your concerns and interests?
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