Sunday, November 22, 2015

One Eighth

One Eighth

Most of my people came here to escape 
starvation and oppression, some 
even shipped without their consent, 
their names respelled to suit 
the culture and education of the person 
logging them in at the point of arrival.

My people came here and scattered 
like dandelion seed, seeking their 
own but considering the new start 
a better option to starvation. 
Didn’t matter that their wages 
cost less than keeping slaves. 

They buried us where we fell;
the mine, the levy, the battlefield.
I come from these people, who were white,
and became american. Who had all 
the babies, half of whom lived. I come from people
who say Jaysus, Mary, and Joseph, and it’s not blasphemy.

Except for that one eighth.
The one eight that would make me 
african or asian or native. The one eighth 
granted land by Cromwell, or George III
to come here, bringing civilization.
Bringing genocide.

Those who owned people, their own relatives,
brothers, sisters cousins. Those who kept
the white code and the pedigree 
because that is what the descendants will see. 
Those who edited the stories so it all 
looked idyllic for us who came after.

That one eighth would make me black,
regardless of fair skin and good hair.
That one eighth makes me one of those
who can own humans. This is the part
white people forget about the one eighth rule.