New Poem

(I'm reading this poem at tonight's Inauguration Day Poetry Reading.)


Because I am African American

Because I was born in the South and live in the North

Because I am first-generation removed from the civil rights movement

Because I am a wife, mother, and concerned citizen

Because I am an American

Because I voted for change

Because his name is Barack Hussein Obama

Because he saw something in us that we were not ready to see:
a belief that we can recognize ourselves in each other

Because it is time for our voices to be heard

Because of Iraq, Afghanistan, Al-Qaeda, Abu Ghraib, weapons of mass destruction, the axis of evil, “Mission Accomplished,” Katrina, the economy, the mortgage crisis, unemployment, global warming, immigration, poverty, homelessness, hopelessness, helplessness

Because we are more than Democrats and Republicans
more than Latino, Asian, and Native American
black and white, gay and straight, disabled and not

Because of Martin, Malcolm, Medgar, Rosa,
and the countless, nameless souls who fought for change

Because my parents and grandparents
never thought they would live to see this day

Because we honor the past and look forward to the future

Because we still have a ways to go

Because I can say to my son, “One day you could be president,” and mean it

Because his name is Barack Hussein Obama

Because we are one people

Because it’s time to stop talking and start listening
to stop listening and start doing

Because the dream is no longer deferred

Because we are the ones we have been waiting for

(This poem borrows lines from President-elect Obama’s “We Are One” opening speech, January 18, 2009, as well as shamelessly referencing the words of Langston Hughes and June Jordan.)


I'm Hernadi-Key said…
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Rethabile said…
I wonder if video was made... Would love to hear this said.
Maya Ganesan said…
It is nice to have this change, isn't it?

And I agree with Rethabile. You must record this on your iPhone and post it. I can hear the words being spoken in my head -- ah, you must do it.
~ said…
Because the dream is no longer deferred

**I Loved that line.
Goodnight, Mom said…
Jana, that was awesome. How did your reading go??
January said…
The video is up! Check out my post for Wednesday.

Thanks, everyone, for the kind words.
Anonymous said…
I never thought about being a generation, or more, removed from the Civil Rights Movement. Your poems make me think.

Love it!
susan said…
Kickbutt closing line. That's not exactly what I started to write, but I thought I better be kid-friendly.

You never disappoint, January. And if you ever do, you are allowed.
January said…
Susan, Pho -- I've missed you both. Thanks for the kind words!

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