Mental Health, mental illness, oppression, genocide, sexuality, two-spirited, Menominee, Native, justice, poem, Chrystos, feminism, LGBTQ

White girls don’t

Chrystos is a Menominee self-educated writer and two-spirited activist. Chrystos’ work examines themes of feminism, sexual orientation, social justice, and Native rights. In her poem “White Girls Don’t”, she describes her dissatisfaction with white privilege, genocide, and oppression:

tell me about El Salvador or Nicaragua
if you go there for an educational
Tell me about First Street in Seattle
the bench where the drunk Indians hang out
tell me how long we’ve been wearing these same clothes
& when was the last time
we had something good to eat
Tell me about the uranium pilings we’ve built our houses
out of down in Four Corners
Tell me about seeing your supposed people endlessly flickering
across gray screens & still
being called savages
White girl don’t tell me about South Africa
Tell me about the streets of Philadelphia
where a Black man slept in the snow & nobody cared but me
Tell me about being an eleven year old girl
whose leg is shot off
because she was accidentally in the way of an argument
the numbers runner is having with the Mafia Man
Tell me about having a mother so drunk
she can’t take care of you because she knows
even sober she couldn’t give you what you need
For every hungry belly you want to blame
on somebody else somewhere else
exotic or romantic
I can show you ten bellies here
empty as your words
Don’t talk to me about the prison conditions in Russia or Peru or Argentina
Let me take you to Purdy white girl
I’ll show you some torture that works & works & works
doesn’t leave a mark
Somewhere else is safer & not your fault & not your responsibility
to be outraged & run off to save somebody
on your white horse airplane
come back with slides to show me how horrible it is down there
gore gleaming in your eyes your excitement just
held in
I’ll show you blood on every street in america
We aren’t the latest fad in your candy-striper life
You want genocide
look out the window at the road going past your house
it’s killing us
Don’t send me letters asking me to mail you money
so you can go here or there
to see how things are
You need an eye exam right here in this town
I’ve got El Salvador & South Africa in my throat
when I stare down two white ladies
staring at me in the fish & chips
When I go on vacation
if I ever have the gall to ask you to send me money
I’m going to stay right here
just not clean toilets for two weeks
which will be quite educational
stop crying stop whining
Don’t aim 5,000 miles away to a land whose words
you barely speak if at all
Right here now genocide
I’ll tell you about it

Image Credit:
Feature: Clem Onojeghuo, at Unsplash, Creative Commons