Driving While Brown
He was stopped in Arizona in his car for being brown.
The officer said, “Prove that I should let you stay in town.
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 there’s no entry stamp to show.”
“They filled the continent clear down to Argentina’s tip
Over several thousand years, on foot, that’s quite a trip.
When 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, the Navahos, the Utes,
The Mayans and the Aztecs, all these are in my roots.
We were here when Coronado and Cortez came riding through,
Here before the English and the French arrived and grew.”
“Here when Meriwhether Lewis and Bill Clark came to the west,
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.”
“You were just too many and our people were too few
But we fought you 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.”
“You sent us smallpox blankets and you slaughtered buffalo
And we survived Conquistadores down in Mexico.
And now you’ve passed a law that says 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 past a line to grow good 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?”
©June 2010 Stephen Baird