‘Send me Back? Piece by Piece, yet I will Remain Intact’

The following poem is in response to President Donald Trump’s attacks on Somali-born Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and three of her colleagues on Wednesday, July 17, 2019, by chanting “Send her back!” Trump, angered by the House’s effort to impeach him over racist comments about the lawmakers just hours earlier, triggered the chant at his re-election rally in Greenville, North Carolina, by resuming his rhetorical assault on Omar and Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass.

Beware if you attempt to
send me back,
You would have to piece me up.
Partition me. Into multitudes.Send my head in parts to all the lands and places
where I’ve lived and learned
But how much of my head will you keep here
in the land called America?
As I have learned and taught at places of higher learning built on the land whose original keepers are the Yurok, Mucogee and Illini.Send my heart to the Lake Victoria region of Tanzania where I was born.
Send my hands to the land that is now known as Pakistan where all my ancestors two generations ago were born.
Send my insides to India, Punjab —
where my people have resided after partition.
Send an organ of your choosing to Iran,
the birthplace of the faith I follow.
But, they might return it to the sender.Beware if you try to send me back —
Send my back
back to Botswana where I was raised
Where my passport says I am a citizen.
Where I came from
when I entered these United States.Send my feet to all the lands and places
I’ve traveled and sojourned
too many to name from Aruba to Cuba to France to Mauritius to Trinidad to Zimbabwe.
Won’t you please send tiny pieces of me
to all the places where I’ve felt at home
and at peace?
The Caribbean and Mediterranean Seas.
The Indian and Atlantic Oceans.Keep my uterus in America
because it conceived and birthed
American children.
This land is rightfully theirs — despite all the denial — as their paternal people are descended from those enslaved by this land’s settlers.
Their ancestors built this land

They were raised to respect this land.
If I leave my American children — the most precious parts of me — here
I dread and fear
You will discard or exile them too
As you disown their “immigrant” parent.
Perhaps, I will take my progeny with me
to lands as yet unknown where
the colors of our skin
or worship practices
or names
or mannerisms
are free to be
as we are.Beware if you attempt to send me back,
Partition me piece by piece.
Too many pieces traces of me will be left behind
in this land.
How will you erase or recompense me
for the cumulative impact of my existence


As my soul is indivisible,
she will roam unshackled and borderless wherever she please to be.
Send me back?
Piece by piece, yet
I will remain intact.

By Gayatri Sethi

Dr. Gayatri Sethi is an educator and aspiring poet who writes about anti-blackness among brown folks in her own community … Read more ›