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And so the people have spoken
and what they said is
they don’t want me here.
We’ve been tried
and found guilty
of existing,
guilty of being brown
guilty of loving a brown person
guilty of giving birth to a brown child
guilty of being willing
to work hard in exchange
for a piece of that American dream
guilty of getting an education
guilty of being eligible to be hired
by American companies
guilty of being able to earn
enough to buy a home
and afford to eat American food
and clothe our family with
American brand names
guilty of trying to write our own story
that involves rising above the
narrative of slavery,
of oppression,
of poverty,
guilty of persevering with
picking apart the stereotypes,
guilty of wanting to live
with dignity,
guilty of seeking
our rights to life, liberty,
pursuit of happiness,

guilty of happiness
without their permission,

guilty of knowing the truth,
guilty of knowing,

guilty, guilty, guilty
criminally unworthy,
dirty for being different,
guilty for thinking we’d ever belong.

I can hear them planning
my execution.
I can hear them forging my chains.
I can hear their chants
to build the wall, build the wall.

The people have spoken.
Their fear and hatred of me
have taken the world’s stage
and roared into the microphone.
They think it is loud enough
to grind my voice to dust.
But our silence is pregnant
and we just haven’t answered yet.

Untitled Photo by photographer Kenyon Schwartz


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