photo credit IG @SimplyCyn
photo credit IG @SimplyCyn

I can’t steal from you what you foist on me

You tell us our names are evidence of our lack of character and capability, so we use yours.

You tell us our foods will kill us and use them as evidence that are children are nourished improperly, so we feed them your foods so that we may keep them in our homes.

You tell us that our music destroys the fabric of society, so we listen to the artists of which you approve.

You use our clothes to justify our assaults, so we wear yours so we can be safe.

You tell us our ancestors have done nothing and force us to learn about yours alone.

Our creations aren’t safe…

Our traditions are backwards…

Our culture is harmful…

…and then you use them for your own.  

You “discover” what our grandmothers knew…

You “learn” the traditions of our grandfathers…

You “value” the knowledge we’ve lost…

…and when we cry, when we tell you that you’ve stolen what is ours after demeaning it, you tell us that we’re making it up.

You dismiss what we’re seeing…

You reject the truth we’re highlighting…

….and when all that isn’t working, you tell us that all of the traditions we’ve been forced to observe.

All of the things we’ve been required to value.

Are stolen.

From YOU.

What we’ve done to survive is now evidence that we’re no better.  That everyone ‘borrows’ each other’s culture.  

You try to turn us into hypocrites in the game you created.

I won’t let you do it.  

As I watch your children dance to the music I was taught to reject.  As we watch you model shirts with slogans we were taught were uncouth.  As we pass high-priced restaurants with the foods our grandmothers weren’t allowed to pass down.  As the clothes that marked us as hoodlums adorn your body and the names that marked us as “unhireable” are bestowed upon your children, I tell you that I won’t accept you adding “hypocrite” to the list of labels you’ve shoved upon me.  

I can’t steal what you foist upon me.  

And I’m embracing what is rightfully mine.      

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