Driving While Brown, in Arizona
He was stopped by Joe Arpaio, in his car, for being brown. (1)
The sheriff told him, “Prove that I should let you stay in town.
And prove to me that you belong here in the USA
Or boy, I’ll have you on a bus and gone from here today.”
The brown man looked right at the cop and gave a pleasant smile.
He said, “To tell my story’s gonna take a little while.
My people walked from Asia fifteen thousand years ago.
They were the very first so we’ve no entry stamp to show.”
“They filled the continent clear down to Argentina’s tip,
It took us several thousand years, on foot, that’s quite a trip.
When first my people came they saw the giant mammoths roam
And now the mammoths are extinct but this is still our home.
“We were the Anasazi, and the Navajos, and Utes,
The Mayans and the Aztecs, all these seeds grew into roots.
Our folks were here when Coronado and Cortes came through,
And here before the English and the French arrived and grew.”
“And here when Captain Lewis and Lieutenant Clark came west,
And here when thousands more came out to occupy the rest.
And finally when we learned that you had come to take it all,
We fought you ‘til there wasn’t anybody left to fall.”
“Your troops were just too many and our people were too few
But we fought for our homeland. Don’t you think that you would too?
And though you stole this land, we won some battles on the way.
The date grandpa shot Custer down we celebrate today.” (June 25, 1876)
“You sent us smallpox blankets and you slaughtered buffalo
And we survived conquistadores down in Mexico.
And now you’ve passed some laws that say we brown folks don’t belong
And there shall be no amnesty, but what’s the greater wrong–”
“The native children, women, men, your soldiers starved and slew—
Or folks who waded ‘cross a rio to grow food for you?
Well, we’ll survive your bigotry, no matter what you do,
We’ve been here fifteen thousand years. Now tell me, who are you?”
Stephen Baird, April, 2010-June, 2018
- Sheriff Joe Arpaio was convicted in federal court of defying a court order to stop racial profiling in his arrests. He was pardoned by President Trump in 2018.