Speaking to Your Parents About Black Lives Matter

I wrote “Here is the Thing, Mom” in 2017. This poem reflects the awkward and tense conversation about Black Lives Matter with immigrant parents, who often seem resistant to supporting race-based social justice causes.

At the time of writing this poem, Colin Kaepernick was notorious for kneeling during the national anthem. I was a 49ers fan and was shocked at how his right to self-expression was stifled by the NFL. In those moments of disbelief, my mind kept going back to Travon Martin, Eric Garner, and so many others who were unjustly murdered from police violence. They were my reason for supporting this movement.

“Here is the Thing, Mom” views the Black Lives Matter conversation from the point of view of a child trying to explain to their immigrant parents why it is essential to support the movement. While my own parents are extremely progressive, they were cautious about Black Lives Matter. They were even afraid for me for speaking in favor of it. I understand that my parents are grateful to live in America. And to them, being grateful means keeping quiet to show respect. Like most immigrant parents, mine believe in following the rules and respecting authority. “Here is the Thing, Mom” is my way of showing my mother why supporting Black Lives Matter is not disrespectful, but rather in line with what we believe and why we moved to America.

[Read Related: Where we Stand Six Years After Mike Brown-An Introspective]

Here is the Thing, Mom

I know you think it’s too bold
The way I tell them all it’s wrong
Why forget you worked to be here
So hard you must stand for the song

I know we would be worse off
In many ways if we were not here
But why did we bother pack up then
Just to watch others live in fear

I know how it seems ungrateful
But I think graciousness is misused
If it means to stand idly and quietly by
When we witness power abused

I know you see only opportunity
Stars and stripes were where to run
But you see if there were no protests
We would be better off where we’re from

I know you wish some days round others
I could employ a bit of discretion
But don’t you see what I see
If I do that there is no progression

I know if I am neutral I have failed
And that signs and fists are small
But in some ways it’s all I know to do
When the stripes are shrinking to walls

I know you worry about my voice
And the way I cannot help but persist
But keeping this place why we came
Is the way I will always resist

[Read Related: Our History of Anti-Blackness and how we Must Guard Against it]

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