Sunday Stew: To Give Our Voices A Name

by Bianca Ramirez, Wanjiku Kamau, Namaka Auwee-Dekker and Ha’aheo Auwee-Dekker

When asked if I am
A woman of color
My words are stuck between
The crevasse of my ribs
“I don’t know. I am colonized and colonizer
I am bitter native and
Privileged skin”

My name comes from iron
Because I have been burned
And doused in holy water
I have been bathed in
Melt me and fit me
Into a new cast.
I have been reborn
Multiple times and
Everytime my first words are
I’m Sorry.
We become blind
to what society portrays us
consumed and dragged
behind the lies
they have but upon us

When people ask me
where i am from
because of my appearance
and are astonished to hear
that i am from here
surprised that i do not have an accent
like most mexican do
where did i learn to speak english they say
I shouted. Raised my voice, climbed mounts, called out for someone to hear me. But like always I’m that black girl or rather African Booty Scratcher, uncivil, so people choose not to hear me.
It’s like the color of my skin has a mouth of its own, that i don’t understand. Can someone please translate Black for me?

Facts about being a mixed kid:
You will grow accustomed
To a guessing game of your ancestors
less familiar with your actual ancestors
Every aspect of what makes you
Is now under doubtful eyes
when they decide how easy it is to decipher me
by all the stereotypes that have been said
When they decide
who i am by what they see
I lost my title the moment I said
I have lost all of my names in sugar cane fields
In private property
Take me home
Sewn into their skin
Embedded in their lacerated scars
I lost my name
The moment I saw
Their eyes sparkle for a
tourist opportunity

I was once told that our
Stories define us
And our stories are connected
To the land and we
Are all connected to one another.
I was told our names
Hold our truths
Hold our stories

I wonder if every time
New tongues butcher
My name
Someone feels a
Fresh knife wound to the gut
Or is that just me?

In a way we are all guilty of the the hate that has been going on targeting religion race identity scared of anything that is different to us
Remember blood in its fullest form
I come from bleeding to a full moon
Like I’m howling for my brethren

I come from living in slut’s shadow
And I remember you.
I remember when my first
Bedtime story was trying
To look for a new body
A new name
New eyes

My name no longer matters
only the fact that i am a mexican girl
with words written all over me
caging me in what they expect me to be

When asked if I am a woman of color
My words are stuck in my blood
It’s attached to culture and
Whether or not white overrides it all
Cut me and you’ll see years of colonization.

When I come I’ll tune my blackness down for you, I try to not mix my Swahili in my words, I’ll try not to be soooo,,, “Kenyan”..? I will not roll my r’s nor put them where they are not needed, I will make sure I visit my doctor for my Ebola and AIDs status, I’ll make sure that I’m hydrated finally;
I’ll read a book.

I am no longer a person
I have turned into a label
mexican with bold black words
written on my forehead

I am between the thin lines
of being too American to be Mexican
too Mexican to be American
i am in between a mix of both.

When I hold my mother’s hand
Our hands are bound like broken promises and
We’ll survive this one too
We are told we are free
but if you think thoroughly
we are actually prisoners in our body

Condemned for being who we are and
What people believe we represent
gang banger Immigrant wetback
criminal poor terrorist

Why are you scared of me?
to be honest the only things that my hands do is write, but even that you scared of? Somewhere in america another other girls like me can’t speak because they are already a threat, of what?
That’s still questionable.

Why is that when we are different
from anything else we are dangerous
When will compassion and love
beats the fear the we have been feed
from generation to generation
the fear that has kept us from uniting
the fear of the single story that we have been told

They want us to think
Martin luther king’s dream
Was only a dream
Water on a flame
His voice only ringing
in the remnants of a rally

It is the oppressed, the people of color, the queer people, the women, the natives, who became the foundation of this country. their marginalized status was capitalized upon, we become the blood that kept this country going. Hard labor was needed and they were forced to do it when no one else wanted to. Our salary was survival. But do not be mistaken. Blood does not equal life

They condition us to forget
The only people who built this country
Are those who didn’t have a choice
Taught us freedom means people of color
Dying down to hashtags
Too blind to realize
Every ounce of water
Bloody holes in our heads
Dead son and mother and father
And every choked pulse
Is an urgent current
And we are not a flame
You have misunderstood
This tsunami

When is enough
when will we fight back
that we are no less valuable
than other people