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Feb 2021
I remember when I started kindergarten, tiny and scared.
People were confused by this little girl, tan-skinned and curly-haired.
What is she? They all wanted to know.
Perplexed they were because my ethnicity didn't show.
Is she white? Is she brown? Is she black?
All their questions showing the knowledge they lack.

For your own selfish purposes, you can't put people in a box.
Because once they're inside you begin to secure all the locks.
It's what makes some insecure people feel secure and safe.
To put each person in what they believe is their proper place.
Each part of my heritage contributes to the strong woman I am.
You see, there is no box big enough for me in which for you to cram.

I see the world separating itself into colors; black, brown, and white.
Separation never leads to unification and it only leads to stress and strife.
If we look back, we were all prospering together not so long ago.
But now, under new rule, the future looks bleak and recovery is slow.
Lockdowns, face masks, corruption, and fake news have become the norm.
Without thought of the effects on our children whose minds are just beginning to form.

We have become a country full of internal struggle.
All due to a select few people who could use a muzzle.
Insurrection lies at every turn, except the one place they look.
As history gets erased daily; every statue, street name, or book.
America may not be perfect and its history may be full of hate.
But the ills of the past reparations and reverse discrimination will not sate.

Only when we look to the past can we correct the mistakes made.
None of us are our ancestors and we shouldn't be punished or paid.
We've come a long way since then and it must be recognized.
Our progress may not be fast enough for some but it's something to be prized.
I want our children to grow and learn from our unique history.
I don't want them to have to search for it like some big mystery.

So, to that tiny, picked-on girl I used to be.
The most important thing about you is that you are free.
It's not that you have to choose between blacks, browns, and whites.
It's that you stand up for each and every one of your constitutional rights.
As for this woman I am, many things that, unfortunately, you'll never see.
Because the world is now too focused on the color of my skin to ever really see me.
Leisa Battaglia
Written by
Leisa Battaglia  44/F/Louisiana
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