Land of the Free

Hola mi gente,
I recently had the pleasure to work with a fellow Boricua, Jacqueline Velez — Jackie, as we all called her. Raised in the same Brooklyn ‘hood, Bushwick, it was always a comfort for me to be able to reach out to my sister-in-the-cause in the midst of the subtle racism of the nonprofit-industrial complex, where even some people of color are removed from the lived experiences of the communities they are supposed to be “saving.” Sometimes, I had to wonder just to keep from going under.

Much to the disdain of the culturally incompetent language police, I affectionately called her my “Boricua grrrl.” She moved on, but shortly before she did, she sent the staff the following poem. I know whatever she’s doing, she’s kicking ass just as Boricua women have been doing from the get.

Land of the Free

 11-12-16_-poetry-land-of-the-free

Land of the FREE,
They make us believe,
If you can dream it, you can achieve it
If that is so, at what cost?
So much at stake, so many lives lost.

Land of the FREE,
A far cry from reality!
How could that possibly be?
Drugs pervade our streets,
An epidemic we could easily defeat,
Yet drugs make their way to our children,
courtesy of the government and the military.

Land of the FREE,
So they say,
It’s beautiful in theory,
But such a long ways away.

Land of the FREE,
Many come here feeling free to dream
Yet suffer and struggle
Multiple low paying jobs to juggle

Funds appear when they find reasons for wars,
Our young get deployed,
sent straight to the frontlines and die on tour.
Can’t get out of a deficit or feed our own hungry poor.

In the wake of death mothers’ cries
muffle the bugles loud sound.
Purple medals in place of loved ones,
Parents are told,
“Sorry for your loss but you should be very proud.”

A race to incarcerate,
No priority to educate.
Business is business, the show must go on.
What’s business to the elite, is tragedy for others.
What’s a profit for some,
is slavery for our imprisoned sisters and brothers.

Land of the FREE?
To what degree?

Freedom is far from FREE
Wouldn’t you agree?

— Jacqueline Velez

* * *

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…

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