Lucky

Slavery is not a part of my history
I left my country
some five years ago, not out of necessity but of a need
for something bigger.
As if I don’t already take up too much space.
I am lucky,
I am here,
I can afford to be here
and not go hungry,
I can afford
to be a minority
I weigh my privileges
and the stereotypes
meant to put me in my place.
I am submissive,
I am dragon lady,
I am told that I am good at math
and I am lucky because
while I am simply a trope,
a flat character
in America’s
autobiography
I am lucky


I have never had
a religious garment
pulled off me
by teens
at a grocery store
I have never
been branded
or sold
or starved
I have never
had to watch
a video of my husband
or father
get killed
by a cop
and have to apologize for mourning

Slavery is not a part of my history
but I have learned that there are many ways to be oppressed,
the shape of the boot that grinds us underfoot are
as numerous as the individual shades of our skin.
My legacy
my curly hair
and the freckles on my cheeks:
these are the shameful shedded skins of
American soldiers
and Spanish priests

of men
who got to go home
and tell themselves
that what they did was not them
but something other
a demon in the form of a
direct order

But for my ancestors,
these were the same men
who threw
bullets into a crowd
like flower petals
like rice at a wedding
Men
who yielded doctrine
like a sharp knife
pressed against the throats
of children.
I am the great grandchild
of the women who hid
under the bodies of their dead husbands
so they would not be shot
or worse


So excuse me
if I sound angry
I am just finding my speaking voice.
I never believed
in the word patriot
but there are people out there
who don’t believe
in global warming
don’t believe
that our own thoughts
can eat us from the inside out

I am not angry, but maybe I should be
I have always been told
that I am lucky
told
that I should never waste my food
that kids in Africa were starving
even though we lived in a third world country and
kids were starving on the other side of the
heavily guarded street


I was told all this
but learned on my own
how to act beyond the
net weight of privileges and oppressions
to be angry
though I am told there is no reason to be

after all
I am lucky.