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Friday, January 14, 2011

Sara Marie Tomerlin-Hedger, A Poem For Us and Them


Sara Marie Tomerlin-Hedger saw a post I made on Facebook.  I said I was ashamed to be white. 

With quick wit and wisdom she reminded me it is not the color that makes people good or bad.  The ugly acts of a few white people against Latinos should not be construed, especially by me, as ugly acts by all white people. 

Then Sara wrote me a message on Facebook and included the following poem:

New Message


Sara Marie Tomerlin-Hedger January 12 at 10:33pm Report

Hi Tim,
I wrote you on fb chat the other day but I think perhaps you did not see it as you did not respond.


I saw you post on FB the other day the one about being white I have at times wanted to crawl out of my skin and into something darker before. I wrote this tonight. Hope you like it I think you may relate.
Warmest wishes,


I will be silent no more

I heard the lies growing up,
The ones that are whispered in white folks’ homes.
The jokes that aren’t funny
But program you with a smile on your face.
The jokes about shooting “cans.”
The jokes about them, the others, the not us.
The illegals, the wetbacks, the aliens.
All those over there,
In front of the Home Depot
(When they were still allowed to stand there
And beg for honest work, for labor).


las vegas 099
And they would run up to the sides of white trucks
Driven by white men.
And I would wonder with my child mind,
Why do they run?

As a farmer’s daughter we ran our horses
When we wanted to sell them
To white men in white trucks,
In order to show off their value.


las vegas 110

Now, as an adult, I see the two displays as the same.
As I have grown so has our hate toward them—
The others, those over there, the not us.

When I enrolled in college I was so happy.
Happy to be a woman,
Happy to be the first in my family,
Happy to be in higher education.

dreamiscoming2dc flicker


2 years in, Proposition 300 was passed.
Many people have forgotten it now.
It was the first step of control,
Of open racism, of open hate,
Of closed thinking.
And it passed in my sacred land.

It was so that they, the others, the not us,
Could not get, and would not get, a foot up.
It was a ban on education.
If you could not prove your citizenship
Then you—a not us—must pay out of state tuition
For the entire duration.
This inflated tuition was 3 times my fare.

steps ii


And in that moment, it happened.
I found I have a ball in my throat,
A round and heavy sphere.
If I swallow it, it shall consume me.
So I keep it there, lodged.
It is the blackness that shuts out truths,
And it will silence you.

And so it went on,
With the minute men,
And with the people who tipped over
And destroyed water stations,
Pouring water, Arizona’s blood
Onto the dusty desert floor.
Knowing that they caused certain doom
For them, those others, the not us.

And then, SB1070 so we could once and for all
Be done with them—the alien, the illegal, the wetback.
They are not even worth reading about
Or teaching about.
She said we have to keep it from our children
As if it is something catchy.


street v


Don’t speak of them, the others, the not us.
And when Tucson schools refused,
And funding was threatened, they swallowed hard
The sphere of lies and silence.
Now it rests in their belly and they fight no more.

Justice forever gone, scattered in the Sonoran wind,
And still it was not enough.
Now they—the others, the not us, the those over there—
Must carry papers,
Just as the Jews were forced to in Nazi Germany.

And all of this has defined us
More than it has them.
We who whisper behind closed doors
And in voting booths.



We who sit on the sidelines and cheer for no one.
We who let them—the dictators—tell us what to believe.
And as I write this,
I feel the ball in my throat contract and tighten.
Perhaps you can feel it too?

It is awkward and discomforting,
And as it tries to silence me I cry out.
I will not let this hate define me
Nor my generation
Nor my people.
And I will yell
And I will tell all who will listen.
I will be silent no more.


anti-immigrant protester


A writer with a great future took the time to send me something home made, and constructed from the heart.  What greater gift than that can one ask?

God bless all of you.  It is always my great pleasure to serve the immigrant community to be part of something so much bigger than myself.  Reform will come, and I am very grateful you have let me be a tiny rain drop in the sprouting of a huge new tree of community and life.


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