OH SAY CAN YOU SEE

by Jasmine Williams

 

Oh, say can you see by the land of the free? Except for you…

 

My great-grandma came on a ship named for a flower and started a new life

In the shadows of all the people that was here long before she was dreamed of

She carried all the load that she could, she bowered off the people that she could.

She saw all the disease rid the Natives, and still tall, she stood.

My great-grandma had a whole bunch of children, some died, and some lived

And that’s where her story ends.

My granddad, he grew and conquered the land, and the fields he worked and soon many said

“You will never be more than an whore immigrants son”

He worked and earned some respect, he stayed and bowered his time

He told his own son, “There will be a time soon that comes, never for forget you are an immigrant’s son”

My dad he fought, and he killed for the notion of a nation he wants to build

He thinks back on what his father told him

Now looking at the darker immigrants that fight side by side with him.

He ran onto the battlefield. He won war with them.

He promised that one says he would. Work with them as equals and friends.

He did not forget the immigrant’s son.

Years later, my aunt was starving with children, the potatoes were rotting.

She promised that the land of the free would take her in, clothe her, feed her.

She was turned away, laughed and mocked, from other seamstress that said that she

Could be one of them, she was just an immigrant.

So, they travelled to the mountains west. Appalachian. And there she told the young.

“Never forget the immigrants young.”

My cousin was a German in the time of war time. In the country that was looking to Europe.

Saw the Germans and told her to kick it. My cousin. Had a family and husband.

Lived her since she was a young one. She told her children this.

“Never forget the immigrant mom.”

Across town, just one year later. My best friend got moved to camp.

In Arkansas. He was mocked and underfed. He was always American.

But his parents weren’t. So, he waited and got out and told his friends.

“Never forget the immigrant men.”

All my family, friends and their kids, all grew and become more than just an “immigrant.”

Became lawyers, senators, and presidents. They started from an immigrant’s womb.

Now my sister she walks over a river. And my brother, crosses the ocean.

They eat food, old or moldy, overcrowded resting rooms.

They come here much like great-grandma, they know they might not belong.

But they are ready to come and stand tall.

And they will tell their kids, “Immigrants is not a bad word.”

They come and never taste freedom, they come in masses like Lady Liberty says

They were weak and poor, free of their homeland.

Immigrants is not a bad word.

My sister she gets sent home, she gets raped, she gets beat and pregnant.

With a diablos child, she starts walking. Up north again saying.

“Immigrant is not a bad word.”

My brother, he made it longer, worked in the dark for farmers, come in those pennies.

He saved up, did not buy a house, instead became an American!

He hears people say, “They take the jobs.” “They need to go home” that “They are whats wrong”

He shouts, “Never forget the immigrants mom, the immigrant young, the immigrant man.”

“Immigrant is not a bad word!”

So, immigrant, they come, immigrant, in masses, like those before.

“Never forget the immigrants you came from.”

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