Immigrant Mother Poetry: What will I tell her when she asks me why she isn’t part of the rainbow…


Touching reflections byShelly Sanchez Terrell.  It can be found at https://medium.com/identity-education-and-power/what-will-i-tell-her-when-she-asks-me-why-she-isnt-part-of-the-rainbow-cf9948eba086#.k36ay36lj

She is a tiny foreigner in this land

At her school, the other children are not like her

It’s for her own good

They will educate her

Provide her with the tools

to live a better life than me

to struggle less

to have more in order to live more

She comes to me

Five years-old, big brown eyes

Long dark brown hair that curls so slightly like mine used to do when I was her age

She comes to me, huge eyes full of pain

They studied the colors of the rainbow

ROYGBIV

And Sarah had red curly hair like fire

And Roy had orangish freckles

And Jennifer had long yellow hair that looked like Cinderella

And Gary had green eyes like lily pads

And Adam had blue eyes like the ocean we used to lived by

I think she may have a small girl crush on Adam and I will prepare for that conversation another time

And someone had an indigo flower in golden hair

And the teacher told her about an actress, Liz Taylor, with violet eyes which are really rare

But she didn’t have red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, or violet anything

She had dark brown hair almost black, dark brown skin like the dirt, and dark brown eyes like dark coffee

She wasn’t colorful like the other kids

She didn’t come from the rainbow

Why?

And as I look into her eyes full of hurt and realization of how different she is because everyday is a reminder for her

I explain to her

You, my daughter, are brown like the beautiful earth

You were born of the earth and from you will be born beauty and inspiration

You will have all these seeds of knowledge planted in you and just like the soil they will grow from your beautiful spirit

We are outside

We put our hands in the moist soil and let it fall from our hands

She watches it with curiosity

She’s trying to figure out what I am saying

I show her a beautiful green leaf on a beautiful flower and point to it

The flower is pink and pink is her favorite colour

I say pink isn’t in the rainbow but isn’t pink still beautiful

She nods and says yes with gusto, my little resilient daughter

And I tell her pink is a new idea

It is here because of the earth

And from the earth comes all sorts of colors, more than from the rainbow

From the earth comes red roses, orange tangerines, yellow pineapples, green leaves, blue bonnets, indigo flowers, and violets

From the earth comes ideas, birth, beauty, nature

Beauty that inspires writers, feelings that inspire poets

And I tell her one day she will inspire the same

She will birth ideas, creativity, knowledge, and so much more that will inspire others

She doesn’t have to come from the rainbow

She can be just as beautiful and colorful if she is like the earth

As she smiles and her eyes glow with this new knowledge

We continue to play with the soil that nearly blends with our hands

We make mud pies

And investigate the worms and life within the dirt

Finally we walk back home, soiled hand in soiled hand

By Shelly Sanchez Terrell

Part of her upcoming poetry book, A Land, Not a Home

This poem is dedicated to my daughter who is currently growing in me. I know she will one day, like me, feel the school system or society has not celebrated her ethnicity, culture, languages, history, traditions or heritage. I know the books, class materials and history she reads will not reflect the true diversity and stories of the multicultural people in this world. I know the mainstream animated movies and cartoons she watches, the heroes on the big screen, and even the best-selling dolls in stores will not make her feel celebrated. We have gotten better in our country with more options, but they are still not the norm. She will be a woman of color and that is one of the rarest celebrated gifts we cherish in our world. I will try my best to show her examples of strong females like her who are successful in various leadership positions and roles and help her celebrate and embrace her diversity. I hope one day the world will catch up and make the celebration of diversity the norm rather than the exception.

 

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One Response to Immigrant Mother Poetry: What will I tell her when she asks me why she isn’t part of the rainbow…

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