‘…it wants to be white again’: Poems about Idenity and America

As we continue distance learning, students at Taft Freshman Academy continue to generate beautiful poems! After watching Poetry Out Loud Illinois state champion, Charles Hsu, recite our mentor text by poet Shirley Geok-lin Lim, students crafted their own ‘because’ style poems based on prompts around concepts of identity and America.  Shirley was born in Malacca Malaysia. She is an American writer of poetry, fiction, and criticism. Her first collection of poems, Crossing The Peninsula, published in 1980, won her the Commonwealth Poetry Prize. This week’s poems are inspired by Shirley Geok-Lin Lim’s Learning To Love America.

Lesson Note: ‘In a time of crisis, poetry can help focus our fears and transform ‘noise into music’ … In effect, poetry “aims in every possible way to reaffirm the world that we actually inhabit, in all its vital, messy, beautiful, tragic reality. Mar 10, 2020, The Washington Post.

Ms. Taylor, 8th Grade
Period 1

By Alexander C.

because I was born in the Streets of Chicago
because of the laws of freedom we have
because of the inequality in this country
because of its birth in 1776
because everyone is human and come from the same tree
because somebody has to do it
because all people will want it no matter what

What We’ve Become
By Anonymous

Because I’m proud of where I come from
Because we are all united by our land
Because I know how far we have come

Because we care too much about ourselves
Because we love money and not each other
Because I don’t know what I’m doing

Because I don’t understand what you’re telling me
Because I know the Pythagorean theorem but not what I’m feeling
Because I know what I’m supposed to do, but not what I want to do
Because I want to understand, but want to keep my image more
Because I can’t bring myself to do it, but that’s not good enough

Because I don’t know how to explain it
Because it’s easier to just push those thoughts away
Because they won’t understand
Because I’m not ready for them to understand

Because we are supposed to be united, but were far from it
Because we think labels are more important than character
Because I’m scared to even bring up the topic
Because I can’t even have an opinion anymore.

Because Christian doesn’t mean what it should.

Because there is still sweet vanilla scent and warm summer nights
Because I am privileged to have what I do
Because all I can control is myself
Because at the end of the day, that cross is still on my neck.

By Samuel C.

Because I was given life on this rock
and on the rock is a firm foundation of freedom

Because It is the world of the free man, and it is the world for me
Because it is still like any country, it has filth within every crevice,
like prejudice, and drugs, and those who break the laws,
like any other country, it is not immortal

Because, it represents freedom, bravery, and courage.
Because they defied a king, traveled across a great ocean,
seen so many die from the cold,
and still created a great civilization and society

Because everyone is an individual,
who are all they’re own unique human
being who deserves to be alive as much as you and me.

Because at the end of the day, they are the same as us,
with hopes and dreams, family and friends.
Because we live a life of luxury other people in other countries don’t even get the experience of a free life, or a choice to what they wear, eat, or worship

Because of the joy that it brings to others lives,
the thoughts evoked, the emotions reaped from our mind
from hearing the fluid, energetic, exciting, sad, bright,
everything song that flows from the universe

Ms. Taylor, 9th Grade
Period Two

By Anthony R.

Because I live in america
Because I was born on free soil
Because I love my family
Because they care for me
Because I go to school
Because I want to make money
Because I get an education
Because I go to school everyday
Because I strive to live up to expectation
Because I stove to live to pass expectation
Because I live in Chicago
Because I am mexican
Because I am supposed to be big and bad
Because I and loving
Because I am passionate
Because I am not tuff
Because I am never going to stop trying
Because I am never going to let my family down
Because I am Anthony

By Chris R.

Because of America, I have the chances given to me today.
Having rights, freedom, and fun.

Because of living in Chicago, I support the second amendment.
Allowing safety for myself and my family. Something that allows everyone
To feel protected in some way.

Because of this country, nobody has been granted perfection.
Everybody has been through discrimination, racism, and injustice.
But sooner or later, this will come to an end.

Because of myself, I’ve been allowed to take responsibility for my own actions.
Allowing myself to mature and become an adult at an early age.
To see myself grow with powerful intentions.
But sooner or later, that w
Because of my family, I’ve learned to never leave anyone that’s loved you.
To make sure that the good people stay and your life,
never the ones that make you down.

Because of English class, I learn more and more every day.
Changing my wording and enjoying more conversations. Allowing myself
to face challenges that I haven’t faced before.
ll change.

Because of basketball, I’ve pushed myself

By Zack B.

Because was born here and stayed here Because people can get in a fight over anything Because people can get in a fight over anything Because I live here Because everyone needs the right to vote and speak up Because I still think they are human Because everyone needs to be free

Ms. Taylor, 8th Grade
Period Four

Knowing America
By Adrian O.

because I was born on its soil and I do not wander far from home
because I believe there is such hope here
because there is a lot of opportunities in this country

because we have freedom and equal rights
because there’s natural disasters
because it’s a great country

because we need freedom
because we are all important
because we should be able to do what we want with certain limits

By Alyssa S.

Because it is a land of freedom and acceptance.
Because it has so much to offer and equal opportunities.
Because it isn’t always as great.
Because it can spread hate.
Because everyone is important and welcome.
Because we all deserve love and kindness.
Because we can enjoy our lives and everything nice.
Because we make the choice to live happily.

By Daniel V.

Because I was born on the soil of America,
and I stay at my birthplace

because there is freedom and opportunities in the air
because there can be too much hate and anger
because it is a land of freedom

because everyone is the same on the inside
because everybody is equal
because it is the right thing to do

because there is people on every corner
because there is people of every race, culture, and religion

because there is beauty everywhere to be found.

Well, Why Don’t You?
By Hannah M.

because they lied
all that was taught was a lie

because it is stolen land
because people are called “illegal”
because we were taught to praise someone who stole
from the native americans

because it is not the land of the free
because they’re are children in cages
because it has to take up to years to finally become a citizen
because people always think it’s okay to say “maybe if they came here legally”
when they know nothing about how hard it really is

because our government is corrupt
because there are innocent lives being taken to due blatant racism
because it is all unfair and there is almost nothing we can do

because this country doesn’t wanna be great again, it wants to be white again.

By Marco N.

Because it is a beautiful place
Because people are nice and life is good
Because we have great leaders in this world
Because we have the best food
Because The place we live is clean and good.
Because we have amazing cultures
Because we have opportunity
Because our news is honest
Because we have rights
Because everything in america is beautiful
Because everyone is good
Because the government is awesome
Because this place is the best country in the world
Because we are advanced
Because we always the whole truth

Ms. Taylor, 8th Grade
Period Six

Learning to love the world
By Erick H.

Because there’s government
Because there’s no freedom
Because it’s polluted

Because there’s bad people
Because there’s Criminals
But other than that

Because of family
Because of good memories
Because the good people

Because of everything
Because there a limited amount of time
Because we shall cherish it

Because we’re human

The same blood we bleed
By Nada H.

Because my roots grow here
Because i have hope
Because its unjust justice

Because there’s potential to pursuit happiness
Because we deserve it
Because they deserve it

Because it’s the same blood we bleed
Because it gets brushed off
Because it gets taken advantage of

Because it deserves light, the sun, the stars

The Land of the Free
By Victoria A.

Because I was born here
Because I identify as a women
Because I am a minor

Because we’re “asking for it”

Because it’s imbedded into mindsets at a young age

Because i am not a straight white man
Because “freedom and justice for all” only applies to the handful
picked by the people who claim to protect us

Because people have to fight for basic rights

Because it’s the american dream

Ms. Taylor, 9th Gade
Period Seven

By Luis P.

Because I was born here
Because it’s a free country
Because of its two-party system
Because i’m patriotic
Because we’re all human so everyone’s rights matter
Because there human
Because it’s how most people live
Because america is the land of opportunity
Because america is the land of the free
Because I love it here



“Writing poetry makes me feel like I can see myself, like I can see my reflection, but not in a mirror, in the world. I write and I know I can be reflected.”
-Oscar S.

“Writing poetry makes me feel free.”
-Buenda D.

“Writing poetry is like your best friend.”
-Jessica M.