Dear White America

a poem by Tanya Smith-Sreen

Dear White America,
You are the monster under the
bed I was never warned about.
You would only come out Shrouded
in shadows
That seemed to suffocate People
In broad daylight.
You, White America,
Have perpetuated a past
And a present
That preserves the power
Preventing anyone from Warning
me.
Not hard to believe
When we remember that in schools
We play at Indians & Pilgrims,
Refer to slaves as immigrants
And rely on language
That serves to protect
This pretense of harmony.
White America,
You are but an abstraction Of
the intimate dehumanization
That has occurred
In this nation.
I only personify you to
Give life
To a façade
Resting on the laurels
Of death.
The blood that soaked
The scorched earth of this land
Is your lifeline.
And the institutions
You breathed into being
Do not target you in their
crusade
To erase color.
Yet they force others to
Burn the layers of melanin away,
Like you burned teepees.

To chain hair tight against
the scalp

As you chained your self-
identified enemy In

internment camps.
These acts of terror
Have not evolved into
yesterdays. They thrive in
these
Segregated streets.
They blossom in
Racialized representations
Of rape.
And to deny your existence
Would be to forget the seed
That bore the tree.
The spark
That fueled the flame.
For it was in your frenzied
fingers
That these systems took
shape.
White America,
The sordid silence
Seeping through you
Has poisoned
Our present
With ghosts of the past.
White America,
Your survival is contingent
On the compliance
Of your citizens.
And, White America,
Your citizens no longer
believe There’s a monster
under this bed.

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