THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO TELL YOU by E. Ethelbert Miller

Alexa Zalopany Casey took this photograph January 30, 2017 facing Henderson Lawn at Virginia Tech, as we gathered to express our support for immigrants and especially our Muslim neighbors, after the Executive Order banning immigration.  Used with permission.


In the morning some of us will be missing.
Some of us never came home. Some of us
were rounded up and taken away. Some of
us disappeared. Some of us said nothing.
Some of us said it didn't matter. Some of us
didn't care.

This is how it begins.
It begins slowly like air.
It begins invisible like fear.
It begins like rain before clouds.
It begins when listening is no longer heard.
It begins when blood is red like eyes.
It begins with silence breaks into pieces.

All of us are strangers.
All of us will be taken.
All of us are crying.
All of us are angry.

This is what I wanted to tell you.
This is how it begins.
Every ending begins with someone.
Every beginning begins with us.

We can stop this.
We can stop this now.

This is how it begins.
Not with some of us but with all of us.

This is what I wanted to tell you.
Now tell someone else.

My friend poet and literary activist Ethelbert Miller posted his poem this morning on Facebook.  In the spirit of the last line, I share it with his permission.  It brings to my mind not only the immigration bans, but the forced removal of native water protectors and their supporters from the Oceti Sakowin Camp today.  For more information on the forced removal see the Lakota People's Law Project.

Instagram photo posted by the Oceti Sakowin Camp four days ago with the caption, "Today a dump truck tried to run over 3 Water Protectors. The Oceti community addressed it peacefully. The matter was pretty much resolved, but they I guess they thought they would like to show a little bit of force."