Last week we celebrated May Day with a program focused on immigration. Many tSB participants understand the challenges and beauty of being an immigrant first hand, or see it on a daily basis. To set the tone, we invited tSB alumnus and recent 2014 Youth Speaks Seattle Grand Slam Champion Carlos Nieto to share one of his poems:
This is for every time a politician on the news made you feel less than human.
This is for wanting to go to college but being the only person in your class that can’t sign up for FAFSA.
This is for being afraid to tell people where you’re from.
This is for being of ashamed of telling your best friends where your mom works.
This is for watching your mom work so hard for years just to feel American.
This is for silenced voices and tired dreams.
You wouldn’t think I was an immigrant.
Yes, I understand your pop-culture references,
I hit my Dougie with you,
I laugh with you,
I do homework with you,
I fought with you,
I fought for you,
I am dating you,
I am your best friend,
The person who told you you dropped your wallet this morning on the bus,
I am serving your drinks,
Taking care of your kids,
I even speak the same language as you. I barely have my accent anymore.
Even my clothes don’t give me away: shirt from Columbia, boxers from Portugal, hat from Peru, shit even our clothes our immigrants too!
So why do you hate me so much?
Why do you call me illegal? As if existing was a crime.
White American, conservative politicians, I am not illegal.
I am not a criminal.
Criminal is profiting off of people being stuck in a prison cell.
Criminal is denying food stamps to people who actually need them.
Criminal is tearing apart families that are already on three legs.
Criminal is feeling unsafe in Arizona.
Criminal is killing people at the border instead of detaining them.
Criminal are free trade agreements that screw over farm workers, why do you think we are here in the first place?
Do not talk to me about criminal, America. The only reason I go to college, as cliché as it sounds, is it to one day have a good enough job to my mom a house she can call her own because God only knows how much she has sacrificed for me.
Talking about how “illegal aliens mooch off the system.”
We pay taxes just like you: Sales, property, federal, you name it!
Talking about how “letting illegal aliens are running this country to the ground by stealing all the jobs.
WE DO NOT STEAL YOUR JOBS. We steal your jobs the same way people of color steal white people’s places at universities, WE DO NOT STEAL YOUR JOBS.
IF WE STEAL YOUR JOBS THEN YOU STOLE THIS LAND, except that’s actually true.
We wake up in the morning to go to work just like you.
On the run.
We don’t run this shit but we make this shit run. You’re welcome for the $300 billion in your social security trust fund. WE will NEVER see a penny of it.
You need us America. You have always needed us.
Who do you think built you? What do you think you’re made out of?
So stop throwing money at the border expecting us to go away.
Stop trying to push us under the rug.
Stop talking about “catch and release” methods as if we are animals.
We are human.
We are human just like you.
We are Americans just like you.
We are immigrants. Just. Like. You.
Poem by Carols Nieto, tSB class of 2011 & 2012