I have a question
I have a question. When you say, ‘go back to your country’, what do you mean? Because I was born here but my parents weren’t and I wasn’t born in Ethiopia, so- Where is my country? Would you have me box myself away? Send it with a letter sealed with my blood, my pain, saying ‘you don’t belong here, go home, would you just leave’ With Australia’s bruising grip holding me down, and Africa aching in my bones How can I go back to a home I have never known I have a question. If you want to box me up, what goes and what remains? My heritage stripped away And my white, fairy bread-eating, Andy Griffiths-reading, ABC3-watching ass stays I have a question, When you say ‘speak proper English’, what do you mean? I’m five years old, and it’s my first day at school My uniform is too big, and my skin is too brown the teacher can’t say my name properly because there are too many twists and turns in it that she can’t fit her tongue around So she cuts it down to a size that she can swallow. It’s funny because whenever my mother cannot fit her own tongue around English words You are allowed to point your finger at her and build a wall with the way you speak And each time you stack another brick, She has to break her tongue all over again just so you will listen to her They call it broken English I have a question When you say ‘you don’t belong here’, what do you mean? Because if you mean, ‘nativity is a necessity I don’t possess”, Then doesn’t that mean you don’t belong here either? Because it looks like you’ve blindly written those history books, eyes shut and turned away from what’s true This land was built on the graves of those who don’t look like me or you, The streets we walk have Indigenous blood seeping through every crevice and crack Looking back, those colonisers were the instigators of an extinction – But now you’re just writing history into fiction. Wait– I have a question Did they never teach you what the price of white Australia was? Mate? I have a question When you call it ‘whitewashing’ what do you mean? Because it sounds like you’re cleansing my skin Of its melanin, of its culture, of its history Because it sounds like you decided to bleach away my representation Like you wanted to purge an entire nation of its forced diversity Because it sounds like a purification, Like there’s no difference between the darkness of skin And the darkness of sin I have a question Why do you say one thing when you mean another? I can hear you picking apart your words and rearranging them like a puzzle so that you don’t sound racist. I can feel you cushioning your intention with the way you speak in white riddles. I can see you wrapping up your words like roses, Only so that when my skin is torn from the thorns They can’t see that underneath, I bleed red too This poem was created and performed by students as part of OutLoud Eco!Slam 2019.
Explore more Student Poems