The theme of racism has always been one of the most widely discussed in society. It has been most represented in prose and poetry of black authors. Meanwhile, defending lines coming from white people sound even more rebellious and intense. Andrea Gibson’s poem “A Letter to White Queers, A Letter to Myself” is a fabulous example of passionate expression of the author’s hatred towards those inglorious individuals who think that they are better than others merely because of their skin color.
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Gibson says that she has spent a lot of time thinking who her people are. I think that this line is one of the most expressive not only in her poem but also in everyone’s consciousness. We should not – we dare not – consider “our people” only those who are most similar to us, be it the color of skin, place of origin, age, gender, or sexual orientation. We should be much above all that, and “our people” should be the ones who share our views of the world. Moreover, Gibson’s idea is that she is willing to refuse to call white people “her people” if they do not wish to admit that every person, notwithstanding skin color or sex, deserves equal treatment.
Gibson raises rather acute issues in her poem. After listening to the author’s passionate arguments, it is impossible to remain indifferent. My views on equality and negative attitude towards racism have become more intensified after getting acquainted with Gibson’s piece of poetry.
“Who the Hell Are You to Tell Me How to Live?”
I can see you!
When you’re hiding behind your classy glossy glasses,
or when you’re riding away in your posh, almost pornographic cars,
when you’re leaving without notice just ’cause you “didn’t feel like it,”
or when you quickly look away, having noticed my scars.
Oh, I can hear you!
With EVERY fiber of my soul – guess what! I DO have a soul. I bet you never even got to learn the meaning of the word.
I hear every syllable, every letter of contempt, each note and tone and pitch and stress. I can even hear the work of the zip on your dress.
Yeah, I can smell you. I bet you think that you smell of that ridiculously upscale perfume – but, alas,
You smell like shit. You smell like the dirt of the blackest corners of your miserable existence. You smell like fear because you know that I can smear your reputation with a single mentioning of the revelation of how you used to come to my home and smoke weed with me – oh, who then were we?
Now that I feel you with almost all the senses – ’cause, you know, I’m way too disgusted to taste you or touch you –
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Now that I can read you like a book – right here, look! D’ you remember how you shook
Your head in refusal when the officer asked whether you knew me?
Well, you! Yeah, YOU! I’m asking – how dare you teach me how to live?!
You don’t belong here anymore. There is no place for you neither in my thoughts nor hugs not even the pile of rubbish over there behind my house where we used to play cat and mouse when we were kids.
You lost it. You used to be a friend, a brother, the whole world and even more –
But now you’re just a sore on the face of our town’s grace.
Yeah, I might be not so posh or even cute or neat, and I might live here in the street,
But you know what? I have more dignity in one fingernail than you have in your whole stupid mansions, your breast implants, and your hair extensions.
’cause I am a human striving to live my life squarely and fairly,
And I may eat or shower rarely, but I’m a Human alright. And who the hell are you to teach me how to live?!