Rowie set the whole room on fire with this poem during the one-minute round of WOWPS. I approached her for permission to reprint it here.
Copyright © by Roanna Shebala
How could I write about what none will understand?
How could I explain my heritage to those not a part of it
without them conjuring up thoughts of the Disney version of Pocahontas;
or in their effort to relate by telling me that their great-great-grandmother was a Cherokee princess?
How can I control this hate?
Hipsters telling me, Get over the past,
as they make a mockery wearing my culture’s jewelry, sacred feathers.
They tell me too find pride in mascots.
Red paint covering white skin
It’s a building block,
A wall of assimilation separating us from home,
brick after brick:
Brick. 1830 Indian Removal Act.
Brick. 1864 The Long Walk.
Brick. 1873 Bureau of Indian Affairs Boarding Schools.
Kill The Indian, Save The Man.
Brick. 1890 Massacre at Wounded Knee.
Brick. Alcoholism, diabetes
Highest suicide rate.
Brick. Highest sexual assault rate.
Shi’ eh Roanna Shebala yini’she
You built a nation with all of these bricks.
I will not be barricaded.
You can find Rowie on the internet here.