Dear White America

FROM: Reimagine America: an anthology for the future

I am one of you,
family fought in the Revolution,
relatives immigrated
from Scotland and Germany.
My father’s side
owned a slave,
Jerry, seven
years old.

I am one of you.
After I got pulled
over for missing a stop sign
in Moreno Valley—
traveling with two Latino
friends, Jose and Mesa—
the cop asked
half joking,
“Are you safe?”
Did I know them?
They hadn’t kidnapped me
had they?

I am one of you.

I am one of you
only in appearance. Seen too many
innocent black males
die,
watch you rip
brown four-year-old migrant
children from their
parents, use the Devil’s tongue
to spit your rhetoric:
these detained “illegal” children
do not require soap,
toothbrushes,
even beds,
to accept you actually
believe
“All men are created equal.”

I am not like you
as my eyes reveal a world
in vibrant color.

These people
shape the landscape
of my home. Grab agency
from those
intent to stomp it out. Rrelentlessness
I can taste in each bite
of Ban Mi, feel in each
turn of phrase spoken
at a reading,
in deep conversations our friendships
have afforded us.

Only in appearance
am I one of you.

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