American Heroes: The #Dream9 activists (left) and the Dream Defenders (right)

A Dream Detained
(after Langston Hughes)

    For the Dream Defenders, occupying the Florida state capitol for Trayvon Martin and racial justice
    And the #Dream9 immigrant activists, who were detained at the border and won their freedom

what happens to a dream detained?

does it wilt like a rose
in the Arizona sun?

does it sink into the ocean
as water fills its lungs?

or does it fight to come home,
cross borders and spread hope
until it has won?

  this is not a weak dream
a beach margarita dream
a suburban house and two car garage dream

this is an American dream
call it Aztlán
call it the hood
call it the walled-off ghetto
of Beverly Hills

we call it home

so bring them home
bring our youth back to us
safe and breathing
with a bag of Skittles and a smile

I have a dream
that one day Martin Luther King
will not be misquoted
by Bill O’Reilly on national TV
fake colorblind fallacies
affirming misplaced actions
tell me, what is so conservative
about killing a young black boy
walking home to watch
the all-star game with his dad?

where are the family values
in deporting the only mother
a teenage girl has ever known?
her name is Mia, she loves to skate
and write and come to my workshops
but there is only one poem she wants to write
these days and it is gone, shipped to Tijuana
like unwanted merchandise

America, when did you stop dreaming?
where are your open arms
that reached for the stars and imagined?

you sing Lennon’s lyrics
then shoot him in Central Park
blame it on a black man in a hoodie
and go on with your day

America, whose ground are you standing on?

this dream is black
and black is beautiful
so this dream is fucking gorgeous
and young and brown
and white, too, if you’re down
to get dirty and and listen first
and never bring tofu
to the meeting ever again

like ever. for real.

because this is a feast
for the Dreamers and the Defenders
enchiladas and shrimp gumbo
soul food with pico de gallo
this is the new America
same as the old America

can you taste it, Arizona?
you can’t eat fake ass Taco Bell forever
if no one is there to serve your chalupa

how will your picket fences stay so white
if no one is there to paint them?

and Sheriff Arpaio, mi amigo,
who is going to take care of you
in your nursing home next year?
better learn some Spanglish
if you want something more
than jello for desayuno

that’s why we are here
true education at its best
starts with the students
bold youth with old souls
who know their history
enough to repeat it, remix it
into something fresh and free

what happens to a nightmare ignored?

does it hide
and shrink from the sun?

does it race
to pick up the gun?

does it sit back
and watch the throne?

or does it sit in
and make itself known?

take over the palace
shout loud and strong
and beautiful, a butterfly
shedding its cocoon

how does a nightmare become a dream?

lay your head down, America
get nice and comfortable
close your eyes
and tell us what you see


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