adversity · culture · poetry · writing

Wrong Place

Temporarily encamped
in enemy territory,
a confidante, observer,
practicing external camouflage –
a dangerous game.

Am witness to hatred –
the deep-seated, ‘us’ vs ‘them’
mentality that divides –
vulnerability on high –
I am clearly ‘other’ –

a tourist trapped,
powerless to affect change,
in need of escape.

culture · Family · Love · poetry · relationships · writing

What’s In a Name?

What’s her name?
Simple question
from mother to son –
recognizing the love-lifted
joy of his countenance.

I cannot tell, said he,
you’ll ask too many questions.
Do I know her?
No, Mom, she’s Somali.
And Muslim.

I felt my whiteness
and all its privilege
slap me, stumbled

Of course she is welcome,
of course it does not matter.

Had no sense of the depth
of my ignorance, how heads
would turn, and vile strangers
attack, and his father shun them.

And how her own mother
would advise her to take his name
when the day of their nuptials came
so that finding work would be easier.

Had no sense of the depth
of my ignorance, how
everyday matters suffer
unfair scrutiny –

hold them in my heart
and pray, knowing my shield
of whiteness holds no sway
to protect them..

(Written for dVerse pub, where Anmol challenges us to address the topic of privilege.)