My Country, Tis of Thee — by Chia “Chilli” Lor

Chilli Lor

 

Chia “Chilli” Lor graduated with honors from St. Paul Central High School and is currently attending St. Catherine University. Her poems have been published in local projects like the literary journal, Paj Ntaub Voice, and the 2012 edition of Saint Paul Almanac. As an emerging community organizer, poet, hip-hop artist, and b-girl, Chilli has a vision of changing the lives of youth and women through performing arts.

Chilli shared this piece at Racial Justice Day at the Capitol on January 30, 2013 and in Duluth on February 1 with OAP’s release of the 2012 Legislative Report Card on Racial Equity and the 2013 Racial Equity Agenda.

 

My country tis of thee

sweet land of liberty

of thee I sang:

 

Land where my Fathers died —

Died from foreign machines

massacres,

and pus leaking from their skin.

Died by whips slicing backs,

necks wrapped

around ropes

dangling from tree limbs;

Died from  empty stomach behind barred camps.

 

Land of the pilgrims pride

to live on stolen land;

built up from forced sweats and toil,

their blood drenched in conquered soil.

Generation to generation

when there is nothing to be proud of

of something that was never merited.

 

My native country, thee,

land of the noble free,

thy name I love;

Oh how I love thy patriotic tug!

Thy gift of freedom to consume

to the point where my arteries are plugged!

But who cares about other countries because you give the best to us

or should I say — some of us.

 

I love thy rocks and rills

thy unequal education, wealth and foreclosure deals!

My heart with rapture thrills

to sing

of all the organizers and champions

that will stand up for the people

silenced in your name!

You see, America is a nation of nations

to celebrate the freedom of some, but not others

who have also crossed your borders,

Calling the US  (“us”)  “Land of the Free”

is by itself a name of hypocrisy!

 

So:

"Let music swell the breeze, 
            and ring from all the trees sweet freedom's song; 
            let mortal tongues awake; 
            let all that breathe partake; 
            let rocks their silence break, the sound prolong":
of RACIAL JUSTICE!

 

Martin Luther King once said, “Let Freedom ring!”

But I add:  “Let Justice ring!

“Let Justice ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let Justice ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let Justice ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!”

Let Justice ring across the 10,000 lakes of Minnesota!

 

From every mountainside, let Justice ring.

“Let Justice ring! Let Justice ring!”

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