Konch Magazine - On 2016: 3 Poems by Melinda Luisa de Jesus
On 2016: 3 Poems
Melinda Luisa de Jesús

1. January 22, 2016
#whitegirlslivesmatter: Reflections on the 2016 Desert Vista High School
Senior Girls' Photo, by a former Ahwatukeean¹

Six white girls and six wide smiles
The glittery letters emblazoned across their chests
spelling out that hateful word.
They laugh but
they don't know its history, some say.
They do know its power
and how it's theirs--

Six white girls planned this.
They rearranged themselves on Senior Picture Day
They chose to spell out this word with their bodies,
documenting their actions
laughing all the while,
Knowing they'll never pay a price for their actions
It was just a joke!
We didn't mean it!
We're teenagers!

Oh, Ahwatukee girls, in you I see our nation's terrible history:
white ladies smiling as strange fruit hangs from trees
white ladies whose prized purity
is defended at all costs
by white men
the justification for centuries of racial terror

Oh, Emmett Till, I can hear your mother weeping still.

1  http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/racist-picture-spells-big-trouble-for-ahwatukee-high-school-girls-7993343

2. June 12, 2016
How to Explain: On the Pulse Nightclub Massacre

How to explain
to my kids
Pine Ridge
Santa Ana²

They who are still learning
take turns
work it out
be kind
make a beter choice

Do I teach them
white supremacy
toxic masculinity

When all I want for them is love?

I want them to know
the dead each
have names
family and friends and pets
they loved and were loved
they dreamt and toiled
they lived and live on

more than
in spite of

those bullets
that hatred
those words

2 See the 1899 Philippine-American war photo “the insurgent dead, just as they fell in the trench near Santa Ana” https://research.archives.gov/id/524389. My son asked me about this image when he was about 8, and I told him it was emblematic of my family’s history as a colonized people.

3. November 9, 2016
Monstrous, or What to tell my kids

“The old world is dying and the new world struggles to be born. Now is the time of monsters.”
Antonio Gramsci

It's a gorgeous sunny Wednesday afternoon in my middle class but quickly gentrifying Oakland
'hood and all I feel is
It's also my son's 11th birthday, but it's too hard to think about that.

Today I've heard from other moms that their kids went to bed weeping and woke up to cry even
The 13 year old white boy across the way poured a cup of bleach and asked his mom if this was “a
good option.”
The 12 year old black girl on the other side of the street is hysterical wondering if she's going to
be taken from her adoptive parents.
My own daughter (mixed race Pinay, age 7) asked me if Trump would come and
kill me now, and would he kill all her black and brown friends too?

"What's going to happen, mama?"
I have no answers.

All I can do right now is hug my kids even tighter.

All I know is that I'm even more committed to the work I've been doing all my life.
And I'm not going down without a fight.

I'm putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.

you have yet to see my brown and righteous fury.