America the what?
You said, America,
You see, I misheard you,
For the words America and great
Are soundless on my eardrums
And tasteless on my tongue,
They vibrate and pull
The air from my lungs.
You say equality and I squint,
Blinded as I am by the
Of violence, of hatred
Against people who supposedly don’t match
The all-American blueprint.
You say freedom and I cackle,
As more burning mosques
Appear on the news
And people forget what happened with the Jews,
And while I look in my history textbook
At thousands of black men
I can only shudder as I look back on all that I have to call
The barely 200-year-old lie,
How even the best people of our school books
Had slaves and held racist beliefs as they wrote words like
“All men are created equal.”
Equal? What does equal mean to them?
It doesn’t mean the same to me,
(We are not equal yet)
And for some reason my skin relatives are blind
To the beauties and wonders of the world’s cultures
Rich with diversity and flavors and song
They only see it as different.
And I want to scream that
Their “different” is better than anything I can profess,
No magnificent ancient customs am I allowed to claim;
Instead my shadow is stamped with the shame
Of imperialism and racism and damned Manifest Destiny,
The Confederacy and the KKK and Big Stick Diplomacy.
Sexism and white supremacy with the occasional gem
Like John Muir or Susan B. Anthony
But I’m sure something terrible about them
Will be revealed too,
This is my country,
And I hate it.
I don’t stand for the National Anthem.
I don’t face the flag.
I keep my arms crossed over my chest.
And I will keep them crossed until that National Anthem rings true in my ears.