“Dear America”

For those who don’t know: flying the flag upside down is an officially recognized symbol of distress. Read the poem with that in mind. For those who did: no need to call 911 or SWAT or anything, I just used the flag for symbolism this time.

I wrote this quite a long time ago, but I figure now’s a good time to post it because people are thinking about the Fourth of July and all. I don’t want to ruin anyone’s holiday, so I tried to wait a bit, but now’s as good a time as any to go ahead and post this.

Dear America

You don’t understand, aight?
I am a female-bodied black person
whose “biggest accomplishment”
is her graduation from high school

Forced into a system by society

without the fancy, expensive paper
you don’t listen to me.
I don’t exist.


Land of the free, home of the brave

But I am not free. And I promise you it is NOT because of the word “nigger”

my mother AND father were injured fighting for you
I see it in your their your eyes, hear it in their your words

      Daddy couldn’t lift his baby

and when he did she knew she caused him pain.

“What the hell is she thinking, going to school with all those white people?”

    Then there’s the PTSD.
The screams, the blows.

My kind is not fit to run this country.

My kind is not smart.

My mother and the bottle

America, why do you ignore me?

Why is is that when I turn on the tv, I don’t see anyone like me?

Why do I have to be afraid for my future,
with or without this stupid degree that’s supposed to document how smart some other people say I am.

That documents my ability to jump through hoops

They left me at daycare with a babysitter every morning at 6AM.

I knew Mrs. Carol, Miss Lori, the St. John’s staff better than I knew them.

Because they went to serve you.

Why is it that when I walk down the street,
you cross to the other side?

Why do you express surprise at my ability to use the English language?

How did you manage to convince me to mold myself into what you find acceptable?

And why do I have to convince myself that I should?

And why should I?

And And And

American, I appreciate what you’re doing for your citizens, but don’t forget me next time.


2 Responses

  1. Jess A says:

    I really like this. If I could put the ‘really’ in italics, I would. Forgive me for being intrusive (and tell me to screw off if you don’t want to discuss it), but was there something specific that prompted you to write this? I find the references to a degree and diploma particularly poignant, and I like the contrast with the disturbing image of someone crossing to the other side of the street. Bravo!

    • I honestly can’t remember why I wrote this. I think I was upset because I felt like I was forced into college (hence the references to a degree). The events are a combination of things that have happened to me (racism and being an Air Force brat), and things that have happened to other military children. It’s probably about 80/20, in favor of me. I’m glad you liked it. Thanks for the feedback! 😀

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