A Breakup Letter to America

Dear America,

It’s taken me 17 years to compose this letter

To figure out what to say

Maybe that’s how long it takes to gain the courage

To confront the face of one’s oppressor

Or maybe all this time I’d hoped you’d change

Back into someone I recognize again

 

It’s not me, it’s you.

 

You’re not a listener

You probably wouldn’t be able to tell me where my family is from if I asked

Wouldn’t matter anyways though, because all immigrants are the same, right?

Not true Americans, gifted the right to be here.

So is that what you’d call your ancestors?

The very founders of the land we walk on?

 

You tell me that I should be grateful

Grateful that you would take me in, allow me to thrive under your roof

I didn’t realize that my entire existence is a result of someone’s generosity

That my hard work would mean nothing without you

That I wouldn’t have been able to make it without you

Well I think that it’s time I live without you

 

When I asked you what kind of ice cream you like best,

You lied and said you like them all,

But I know that if given the choice, you’d buy only vanilla for the rest of your life

And leave all the more colorful flavors to melt

 

When I talk to you about my interests,

You pretend to care, but never do

Because everything I hold dear

You deem unimportant, not worthy of our time or effort

And the sad part is

I begin believing that you are right

 

When I introduced you to my mother, the teacher

You told her that teaching is not a valued profession

As if molding the minds of the future is not worth as much as

Wearing a suit and doing half the amount of work she does

You told her that having to raise us kids by herself was her own fault

That having a man would have made it easier, but since no man wanted us anymore

You forced her to accept that this was the life we had to live

With no help whatsoever- the life you told her we deserved

 

When I told you I wanted to go to college

You made sure that I’d feel like I couldn’t

Because I’m too poor to afford a rich person’s dream,

Because there’s no way I’d ever be successful-

 

Because my femininity makes me weak.

My compassion, my emotions, prohibit me

From ever being as strong a leader as a man could be.

Because my skin color is not as attractive to you,

And if I was only a little lighter I could maybe have a chance.

 

Changing myself constantly to fit the subject of your desire,

The mold of your minimal acceptance,

So many are suppressing themselves because your tolerance is a luxury

They will never be gifted

Like rejects in a factory

Not perfectly tailored to look like or act how we are supposed to

And therefore are worth less

Deserve less

 

I built myself up not from the bones of those I pushed down to be on top,

But from my own blood, sweat, and tears,

My own late nights and early mornings and extra shifts and research papers

Just as my mom did

Just as my children will

Just as you did long ago

But you seem to have forgotten

 

Once upon a time, it was you who needed help

Needed someone to believe in you

In order to become what you are today

I used to believe in you

Until you stopped believing in me

 

It’s not me, it’s you

It’s definitely you

You and your self-righteous manner that hides the broken shell underneath

Using your power and your name as a life raft so no one else sees the desperate attempts made to keep from drowning

 

Well I see it

 

Just as I see the bones of those before us that you build on top of

Crushing them down to make steps so that you can climb

High enough to reach the pedestal you hold yourself on

Unrightfully so

I see the crumbling foundation and those who used to stand behind you

Leaving you one by one

The thing is, though:

You left them first

The ones who needed you most at the time when you gave them the least

 

And you come back to me so hurt

And expect me to help fix your wounds

It is not my job to repair the very thing that broke me

 

You know, I thought I loved you.

My entire life I really did

But now I think that I’ve had Stockholm syndrome this whole time,

In love with the very thing that keeps me captive

Never letting me grow

Always putting me down

But enough is enough

I stand by you no longer

 

I hope one day you can change.

When I’m much happier on my own

I hope then you can see

My being with you was never a privilege

The only privilege was you having me.

 

 

This poem is about: 
Me
My family
My country
Poetry Terms Demonstrated: 

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