I am nothing but a toy.
And I can stand up here and smile as those who know me, those who love me, stare in shock as they realize that the girl they treasure isn't worth anything more than a cheap piece of plastic.
I am a toy to those who don't take the time to know me;
Who don't take the time to open up all the baggage and understand the trembling creature who hides from the light of the real world;
Who don't take the time to peel back the scar-covered outer shell of this broken little angel and find the mind I hold back because my mouth is gagged with red tape;
Who don't take the time to look past the stereotypes that I am forced to live up to and learn about this person, this young lady, this poet who is hiding behind her words because she saw too much of society at too young an age.
I am a toy to a country who swears that she is accepting, but who hands out knives for minorities to slash their wrists with.
I can still remember that first day:
The bright sunlight that blinded my dark eyes as I ran out to the playground,
The supposed safe haven of all children,
A place where kids can be kids and scream and run and let out the energy that God blessed them with.
Yes, I ran out, blinded by the beautiful sun in my dark eyes, on my dark skin, in my dark hair.
And all I wanted was to play with the children in my class,
Children whom I believed weren't any different than me.
Sure, they might look different but deep down, their hearts beat like mine did, pumping blood through veins that looked just like mine,
Except their blood had been poisoned.
And I knew nothing of the toxicity of prejudice, of believing that different is bad.
I didn't know.
And I as I heard those awful words, my happiness came crumbling down as my hurt built up iron walls around my breaking heart.
"You don't belong."
It was my first experience of what an overdose of red, white, and blue could be like.
Those poisoned stars and stripes that had been imprinted on those children's minds slipped through their touch into my soul as they stabbed their bleeding crosses into my little mind.
No, I was a toy for them to use and abuse for their pleasure, marked with the words "Made in India."
It didn't matter if I had walked through Chicago, Illinois all the way to Anderson, South Carolina.
It didn't matter that I had never lived in a land six thousand miles away.
It didn't matter that I still recited the pledge of allegience as if it were a fond memory.
None of that mattered anymore because after that first encounter, I grew afraid.
Tell me: how do you justify making a nine-year-old so afraid that even seven years later, she still finds it terrifying to love someone who dreams of bearing his flag on his arm?
Why is it okay that this girl will grow up never understanding a love that doesn't come with some form of abuse?
What makes it alright that she cannot understand how someone can drink the elixer from the Melting Pot and not be poisoned;
Not be forced into seeing different as bad;
Not be brainwashed so that every unique soul who comes through with a different story engraved upon them is suddenly a threat?
Why is it okay for her to be marked as a toy and left to melt in the sun of patriots?
Tell me: how do you sleep at night knowing that she wishes every day that her eyes were lighter, her hair more blonde, and her skin white?
You can stand there and answer me with your poisoned tongues.
You can tell me any lies you want,
But so long as I remember my past -
Those children who couldn't bear to play with me because I was "different" -
America the Beautiful will always be a queen, a rightful ruler of her land, a factory for the strong and brave, who has been poisoned by her own people.
And I have come off that toxic conveyer belt with dreams in my head and a path of shards left in front of me.
My journey was never meant to be easy.
I was always meant to be a toy.