This poem came from the February 2, 2010 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from jenny_evergreen and janet_miles. It was sponsored by xjenavivex. February is Black History Month. This poem tells a story of what it means to be human, and how history repeats itself so that we can keep learning from it.
The viewscreen flickers with history, its lesson
flecked with grains of black and white.
The children, my charges, sit in front of it
the ancient crowd reflected in their eyes.
When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words
of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were
signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.
I am no teacherbot, filled with the chips of history.
To me this is all as new as today's download.
Although my children are growing bored
and their lunches are not yet made,
and I will surely be scolded for negligence,
I find that I cannot turn my lenses away
from the dark man shouting out the lesson.
But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt.
We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the
great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come
to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand
the riches of freedom and the security of justice.
I am no lawbot, weighing the scales
of right and wrong; such is beyond me.
The orator speaks of justice and
I cannot comprehend his meaning.
He speaks of calculations and funds.
I am no bankbot, but I understand
the concepts of balance and equation.
He speaks of equality, and that
is a more difficult thing than math.
I am not sure that I understand it,
but I am listening with all that is in me.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in
a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin
but by the content of their character.
I look at the four little children
in front of me, in front of him
where he speaks from the screen,
and I see that their skins range
through shades of pink to brown,
and I realize that I had never known
that once it would have mattered.
All I have ever known is that
they are human children, and
therefore infinitely above me.
I turn over my hands and
light from the viewscreen reflects
on the silver skin of my palms.
A bit of understanding comes
slowly to the surface of my mind:
To have a dream is to be human.
I have a dream today!
I, too, am human.