Who is America Now?

PLEASE excuse the sideways video, a MAC is coming soon. 

Libya refuses to stand still
under the deadly yoke of oppression.
The halls of Wisconsin scream in labor
as Congress takes its medicine.

The world watches stunned
while Japan struggles to breathe.
Wall Street sings a familiar tune,
as California falls to its knees.

America looks in the mirror
as she lands hard on the ground.
A tempest tosses her to and fro,
and she asks, "Who am I now?"

Sojourner charged "Ain't I a woman?"
And melancholy, Langston sang:
Oh, to be at America's table
when the good company came.
Then, Maya reminded us,
and boy, how she rang:
America's crops of abundance have not fed the hungry,
nor eased that deep pain.

Now Alice calls us anew, her voice inconvenient
yet again.
We have to live differently, she says,
or we will die in the same...

Professional woman,
educated woman,
can we let this be?

Shall I? Must I? May I...
risk your ire to ask you now:
Where is the passion that once made you?
Did we lose America somehow?

Did you move from the kitchen to the table in Lanston's America,
and forget to wipe up your crumbs?
Did you Discover Maya's America for yourself
when your new master increased your funds?

You're independent now!
You're liberated! You's free!
Your Uncle released you from the struggle 
when he approved you with his degree!

But, oh, silent sparrow,
who flies on borrowed wings,
did you forget?
Real independence
is when they needn't approve you for a thing.

Mm, beautiful, speckled bird,
your true song still unheard,
who are you now?
Where is your plow?

Did we tend to our garden
alongside our sisters and brothers of the world?
Did we plant the seeds of ingenuity?
Create heaven on Earth for our boys and girls?

As Egypt presses,
and Libya avows,
quiet, the Mexican labors,
prudent, the Jew endows.
Yet harried, the black man grapples;
his woman phenomenally proud.
May I tender? Who were you then, dear?
In this moment, who are you now?

Are you still Langston's song?
Harriet's cover train?
Frederick's prudent speech?
Nat's naked flame?

If Harriet were alive,
would you ask to hold her shoe?
Or would you just turn up your nose,
because her brand ain't brand new?

Who is America now?
Phenomenal woman, is it still you?
Will you dance at the international feast?
Or will your private tea and crumpets do?

Will you empower with your knowledge?
Or let it shine on the corporate shelf?
Will you take us to the global conversation?
Or keep on talking to yourself?

Is the current state of affairs indeed what your Maker planned?
... you passing this task to your Higher Power
when He already put the power in your hand?

Who is America now?
Still the length of history in your muscular arm,
quietly stirring, engineering justice,
laboring in wee hours to keep your flock warm?

Did your God truly intend
for the world to pass our children by?
For you to say to them "next lifetime.
You'll get your heaven when you die."

Who are you now?
What will you be when you lay to rest?
Will we celebrate your gifts that propelled us?
Or lament how you held them to your chest?

Is America still the fire in your heart
that will show the rest of us how?
Does the love of your people still beat there?
If so, who is America now?

Shannon Y. Humphrey © 2011

 (this poem is the intellectual property of Shannon Humphrey)
dress by Maladrino

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