On Some Streets


Cortez, Sarah




Sarah Cortez is a teacher, poet, and police officer who often writes about her experiences on the force. Her poem “On Some Streets,” describes streets where people so not welcome police officers because of poverty, class, and racial difference. This poem inspires dialogue about perceptions of the police, law enforcement’s responsibilities, poverty, and barriers between communities.

Full Text*

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Cold Blue Steel by Sarah Cortez. Texas Review Books, 2013.


Reading - Short Enough to Read Aloud.


Connection and RelationshipDiversity and DifferencePoverty and NeedServing and Volunteering

Big Questions

What causes division between people and groups?What makes it possible for us to connect to others? What gets in the way?How do we connect with those who are different from us?How do we learn to have dialogue across difference? What does it look like?What assumptions do we make about others?Why is difference sometimes threatening?How should we respond to people and communities in need?What are the causes of poverty?Who is responsible for addressing poverty and why?Is my service effective? How do I know?Why do we serve?


Taking Action

Sample Discussion Questions

  1. What is happening in this poem?
  2. Why don’t children on “some streets” wave at the police?
  3. How would you describe what “some streets” look like? Do these streets exist in your community?
  4. Who are the outsiders and who are the insiders in this poem? Why is there a separation between these people?
  5. Do you think that the separation between the police and people in these neighborhoods will ever end? Why or why not?
  6. Who is responsible for creating a good relationship between public servants and the people they serve?
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