Stand Still

How can a country be
simultaneously the greatest country in the world
and also need to be made great again?
Our parents immigrated to this land of opportunity
With dreams of success and happier lives
Hopes of futures for their children
That otherwise would not have existed
Upon arrival, they quickly learned
To work their fingers to the bone
Keep their heads down
Keep their voices down
And silently accrue success without
Drawing any attention
They teach their children to do the same
They send their brown-skinned young ones to
White-skinned schools
Because the education is better
They live in cheap housing
Because good education is expensive
But worth more than material comforts
They nourish their children with homemade meals
Cooked between day and night shifts
Resisting requests for happy meals and pizzas
(In retrospect, thank you)
They don’t know that their children’s classmates
Call her “monkey” and “dot head”
Before cultural appropriation took it to the other extreme
(Chicken tikka masala is not real Indian food. A sari not is a Halloween costume. Yoga is a thousand year old practice that I shouldn’t have to pay white people to teach me.)
They do not anticipate that years of service in their job
Could be truncated by the bigoted actions of one American
Who views them as less than
Less deserving
They do not expect that they will be accused of stealing jobs
Because they didn’t prevent anyone from becoming the healthcare providers, lawyers, engineers, and business owners that they are
They do not realize the immense cost of college education here
That can put them and their children in debt for decades to come
They do not expect to hand their newborns over to strangers
Because they do not have paid parental leave and all their family is across the ocean
They do not comprehend how a constitution that calls for religious freedom
Is ignored by right-winged fundamentalists
Who want to create laws that align with one religion
A religion they do not follow
Or care to follow, for look at the destruction it has caused
They thought they were living in a democracy, not a theocracy
They fear the day that they too will be pushed out of society
When they see other people of color being actively persecuted
On tape
(Somehow video evidence is still not enough to expose the dangerously subconscious racism pervasive in this society)
They hope their children, who are clearly not white, would at least be straight and if possible male
So that they could maybe enjoy 2/3 of the privilege that the majority enjoy
And so that they don’t have to endure the heartache of
losing a child to violence because of his or her sexuality
They do not understand
How school children can be murdered point blank
Yet the right to own guns still outweighs the right to live life
(Why does pro-life not include life outside of the womb?)
They do not understand
How a woman’s reproductive rights, voting rights, and healthcare access set by law
Are conveniently ignored, questioned, and attempted to be overturned
But (their) God forbid we question the 2nd amendment
(When was the last time a “well-regulated militia” was necessary again?)
They do not believe
How a racist, sexist, egomaniacal sociopath
May be the next leader of the “free world”
And they question if they made the right decision
By coming to this land of opportunity
But what land can they flee to now?

This land was not great during the era of slavery
Or Jim Crow
Or the three fifths compromise
It was not great when it discriminated against other whites with different accents and customs and languages (the Irish, Italians, Polish)
It was not great when it used religion as an excuse to display hatred
It was not great when Sikh partitioners were murdered because they wear turbans
It was not great when it labeled all Muslims as terrorists
It was not great when the white men who toppled the economy were given a slap on the wrist
It was not great when it passed laws to prevent minorities, the elderly, and students from being able to vote easily
(Though having a photo ID still does not prove citizenship…)
It was not great when it gave lighter sentences to athlete rapists
Than to young black men who possess marijuana
It was not great when it labeled pregnancy as a disability
It was not great when it allowed schools to teach creationism instead of science and math
It was not great when it closed its heart and doors to refugees who are suffering immeasurably
It was not great when the result of electing Obama was Donald Trump

Such a shame, for in the very recent past this land was on its way to becoming great
It was becoming great with civil rights, with women’s suffrage, with gay rights, with healthcare access, with education reform
But just as quickly as it was becoming great, decades of efforts to
Make America great again to begin with
Are being attacked and unraveled
By an uneducated and bigoted minority
Who are blind to the devastating consequences of their actions
If their leader wins, I can only hope they will take ownership of their decision
When their beloved country crumbles and descends into failure
But like WWII, like the Nazi era, like the current effects of nationalism and patriotism worldwide, like Brexit,
It may be necessary for utter collapse to occur
Before minds and hearts may be changed
Or maybe this is just another swing of the pendulum
And the new history textbooks will again fail to teach us anything of import
Fo as time moves forward, we continue to stand still.


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