Ethnic Studies

by Alexia Vasquez, from the book Hustlin’ Hermanas (2016)

The first man who had fenced in a piece of land,
said, this is mine, and found people naive enough to believe him,
that man was the true founder of civil society.


Identity trunk,
roots ancestry.
Culture branch,
leaf language––
who we are.

Destruction: an axe, an ethnic studies ban,
chopping down perspective.

You say unnecessary, distracting,
for us to study our own roots.

You say America should remain “pure,” but
where is your pure in a melting pot country,
where differences blur, a patchwork quilt, each piece,
an equal role,
this nation, where beauty is
threaded, woven altogether,

How pure, your history
where I only see white, I only see white,
my skin is brown, but I only see white.

we only learn your culture,
Betrayal of humanity, calling natives savages,
snatching earth from their rituals, their songs, their dances, their sanctity.

We learn the sound of metal clinking from wrists,
silenced African voices, hushed by torture and brainwashed to your pleasing,

to your
cryptic culture
cultic culture
consumer culture
fake culture
pretentious culture
freedom robbing culture
world destroying culture
pure, sweet, two-faced culture

You want me to see with your eyes,
knife held at my beliefs.

You can write laws all you want,
but our knowledge cannot be erased.

But beware of listening to this impostor;
You are undone if you once forget that
the fruits of the earth belong to us all,
and earth itself to nobody.