A Hispanic woman is faced with the day,
She leaves Northern Jersey, and moves to PA.
White husband, 2 kids, and one will come soon.
In a new world, emotions are strewn.
First child is blessed with the skin that’s like hers.
She knows that they’ll have people throwing them spurs.
Husband, her daughter, and new baby three,
Have their own color protecting them free.
Tired, scared, and missing her people,
She wished they could say, “We’re all treated equal.”
Experience here will give them true knowledge.
They’ll learn their privilege.
Mother’s adventures with redheaded daughter,
Strolling down grocery isles, no bother.
White woman stops her now beaming and canny
Says, “Aw, cute baby! Are you the nanny?”
Mother now fuming says, “No she’s mine.”
Continues her journey and gets in a line.
She knows if she fought back it wouldn’t end pretty.
She figures it’s best to lay low in this city.
Bottle it up, go home, and just pray.
Still time to make this a much better day.
Mother will share this when daughter’s older.
The story of white lady, what mommy told her.
Tell daughter details and paint her the image.
She’ll learn her privilege.
First week of school, redhead’s teacher’s pet.
A cute little dancer that Miss never met.
Now comes in mother, and teacher then swore,
She dealt with this Hispanic woman before.
The dark older brother was once in her place.
Treated unjustly, their mother, Miss faced.
And even though brother had much higher grades,
Teacher did not care for mom and his shade.
Daughter’s now treated just fine like the others,
And treatment won’t be half as bad as her brother’s.
Daughter’s confusion is sparked by their visage
She’s learning her privilege.
Loud on the playground, redhead with friends.
Black, White, and Brown, new dances that trend.
Join the Black girls that shake left and right,
Other White girls choose to sit back polite.
Redhead unsure why that can’t all join in,
Some girls are shy due to culture and skin.
Now redhead’s closer to Black girls so proud,
Unsure where she fits, but can’t say out loud.
Redhead’s the mixed one. Hispanic and White.
More White to her left, and Black to her right.
No one relates in her little village.
She’s learning her privilege.
Redhead’s watched mother and brother for years.
Hitting an age where she’s shifting gears.
She’s witnessed their pain that she’s never gotten,
Although, when with mom, kids say she’s adopted.
14, a freshman, she finds a mixed friend.
Finds a new ally whose ideas blend.
People now learn redhead’s half Puerto Rican
One ignorant kid takes his chance to start speaking.
“Get out Mexican.” He exclaims in disorder.
“Grab your lawn mower, and go cross the border.”
Keeping her calm she says eloquently,
“You might want a lesson in geography.”
Ally speaks up, but she’s Black/Hispanic.
Redhead is quick to stop ally in panic.
She knows that with her ally’s much darker tone,
She’ll be punished more than the boy who throws stones.
Redhead spews comebacks, and lays it on thick.
Ignorant boy laughs and calls her a spic.
Fed up, hurt, she makes one last remark.
She and her ally won’t take it to heart.
Redhead’s the one who prevents further damage.
Now she knows her privilege.
Last year in college, redhead’s back from tour,
Making it tough to go back to before.
She meets a new boy that we can call Tony.
He seemed so kind, turns out he’s a phony.
One night while walking they talk of their past,
He made a harsh comment that changed her mind fast.
“If you got with Black men, I couldn’t be with you.”
She says, “Well, I have. I guess there’s an issue.”
He says, “Yea, but they weren’t that dark of men.”
She cuts him off quickly and thinks, “This should end.”
She tried to correct him by teaching him better,
Turns out he’s too cocky to keep them together.
Redhead tried to show him through family and more,
But manipulation, harsh words, hit her core.
She picked herself up ending things with that boy.
She wants to leave school filled with kindness and joy.
First female on mom’s side to get a degree.
Mixed girl with a new BFA in MT.
Family is proud of her finishing college.
She knows it’s a privilege.
Redhead goes on to a pursue her career.
Black, White, Hispanic, and Asian, and Queer.
Some moments feel like they’re actually equal,
Until open calls for shows with certain people.
Looking for Latins, redhead goes on in.
She’s still a Latina despite her light skin.
Sometime she’s welcomed, sometimes there’s shame.
Sometimes she even tries changing her name.
But now in the union, that trick doesn’t work.
She prays they can see in her eyes, or her smirk.
Her manager gets her appointments for roles,
That are Latin women, and meet redhead’s goals.
Casting asks, “experience with speaking Spanish?”
A question that redhead thought Equity banished.
“My mom’s Puerto Rican,” she says fighting tension
Casting got answer with calculated question.
“I don’t have to ask the inappropriate one!”
Casting continues, but redhead is done.
“Why was I called in?” Redhead asks herself.
“My headshot could just have been left on the shelf.”
Or even better, another role on the line.
A character who’s skin tone they think will match mine.
Ambiguous actors are the hot thing.
More opportunities we’re told it will bring.
Redhead fights on to get any show.
A role or a moment. Let the resume grow.
She sees other friends that are trapped in a square.
One look, minority, little chances there.
Passing both White and Hispanic’s an advantage.
She knows her privilege.
Now 27, redhead’s seen every state.
She’s seen every race in their heated debate.
She’s witnessed the pain of her family and more.
Even younger brother faced pain she’s endured.
Her cousin’s, her uncle’s, her aunt’s family bloom.
African, Jamaican, Hispanics in the room.
So many shades that share the same blood.
In addition, she’s dated some colorful studs.
Redhead experiences hate second hand,
Whether with family, her friends, or ex man.
Unafraid of discussions to speak on the problem,
She’s never done anything big that will solve them.
Discussions with likeminded people share toasts,
But never with people that need it the most.
Redhead must speak out for those in her lineage.
She must use her privilege.
Now, I see Covid and Racists galore.
Anxiety, hatred, blood on the floor.
Real change is coming with time to protest.
Leaving the fascists and foes in distress.
For those who don’t speak out, I’ll listen. Explain,
Why you still choose to sit back and refrain?
You’ll put in your head phones engulfed in their culture,
But won’t fight the hate that attacks like a vulture.
You can stay silent and fear alt-right shame,
Or you can take part in this beautiful change.
This will take time, and money, a village.
We must use our privilege.
Yes, the redhead you read of is me.
My mother, my brothers, friends and family.
I’m blessed to be surrounded by diversity,
Even LGBTQ community.
Sharing some fragments of my life story,
Continuing this speech is now mandatory.
I know that I’ll truly never understand,
The harshest of treatment by evil, racists hands.
I promise to educate myself in this time,
And stand by my loved ones through their uphill climb.
I ask you, have you taken time to reflect?
Evaluate choices, and who you protect?
What is your mission, and what is your freedom?
How can you educate others and lead them?
I encourage you to join me in this mission.
Use your own voice, and choose your position.
I’ll keep chanting, fighting, promoting the message.
I know my privilege.
©Megan Elyse Fulmer 2014