Wednesday Poetry Break: Patriot Edition

Back in September, I posted this poem. At that time, it was a message to the candidates. Today I post this poem as a message to my fellow Americans. You see I, and other bloggers (such as Sara at Suburban Lesbian Housewife) have been told by some readers and friends that we’re not working for America’s best interest when we insist on equal marriage rights. We’re told that there are other, more pressing issues, and that this issue only affects a small percentage of Americans.

Well, I fight for peace and justice. I agitate to end the War in Iraq and Afghanistan. I advocate for environmental responsibility. I’ve been on the front lines of the education crisis in this country. They’re all important issues. It’s not a matter of ignoring one for another. They all call out for our attention.

So to those who question why we fight for marriage equality in this country, I say:

I, Too

I, too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

Tomorrow,
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
Then.

Besides,
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed —
I, too, am America.

— Langston Hughes

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11 comments

  1. sara said the same thing I was going to say…beautiful.

    I’m so tired of being told by other Americans that only some issues of liberty are worth fighting for. I sometimes wonder if those who claim the issue of gay marriage isn’t all that much worth fighting for, understand the meaning of equal rights.

  2. Thanks — but mostly give thanks for the genius of Langston Hughes.

    Mary Ellen, I actually never use the phrase “gay marriage” for just that reason –we’re not asking for special rights — just equal ones.

  3. Thanks for posting the poem. It has long been one of my favorites as well. It does bring home the fact that all too many of us, for various reasons, are “sent to eat in the kitchen.” Sue, you know that we look at some of our students and hope that some day they can sit at the table because they actually got a decent education in spite of their being slower, shyer, poorer,… . What a table it will be when all are invited!

  4. I will gladly volunteer my services now; justice of the peace at lesbian weddings. Oh, alright, my motives aren’t exactly pure….but strange bedfellows, I’m saying!!

  5. sue j, you wrote:

    “This is the argument I hear that just annoys the hell out of me.”

    It’s not an argument. It’s a fact.

    You dreamed:

    “Probably 99% of the disruptive, behavioral problems you mention could be avoided if schools had money to hire more teachers.”

    What allows you to hold this utterly ridiculous belief?

    Obviously, you have ZERO experience with uncooperative minority kids in public schools.

    Meanwhile, your theory is never tested. Despite what you seem to believe, a lot of classes have less than 25 kids enrolled. There are plenty of high schools in New York City that do not offer physics and calculus because NONE of the students have the sufficient background to take those courses. Plenty of students simply will not progress as far as geometry.

    Their under-achievement is NOT a function of large classes. It is a function of their unwillingness to study and learn.

    What do you think a teacher can do to an uncooperative student?

    Do you think the substantial number of problem kids fear a trip to the principal’s office?

    One of the few threats that work — occasionally — is the threat of calling the kid’s parent. But it only works if the kid’s parent is a tough guy who will knock the kid around at home. For this to work, you have to have the parent’s cell phone number and you have to use it, and you have to accept the likelihood that the kid will get a beating from the parent.

    But this strategy doesn’t work when the kid has a parent who doesn’t care. There’s many like that.

  6. i agree with some that marriage equality is not the most pressing issue facing america and americans, but equality in all areas is worthy of discussion, always! like i told sara, keep harping on all the things that bug you!

  7. Obviously, you have ZERO experience with uncooperative minority kids in public schools.

    no_slappz, you’re referring to a comment that I left over at Yikes!

    I’m sure “G” will join me saying “HA HA HA HA HA!”

    I taught middle school with G for 6 years in a public school system, in a neighborhood that has overwhelming social and economic issues. I taught special education for 4 of those years. I also taught computer technology classes of 35 or more students, which always included a handful from the emotionally disturbed program.

    “Uncooperative?” Trust me. I know.

    I cannot speak for the New York public school system. But I think I can speak for most public school teachers when I say they are overwhelmed with the workload.

    I’m not going to continue this conversation here, but I stand by what I said about the need to hire more teachers.

  8. Wow, I thought I was on the wrong blog when I read no_slappz comment…had to double check. He’s stalking you now? 😀

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