The People Cry Out

We are
Dalits, Kanaka Maoli,
Hidatsa, Maori,
Koori, Xhosa, Ainu,
Ojibway, Buraku,
Korean-Australians,
Koreans in Japan,
Filipino migrants in Japan.

We speak in tongues
Yet use the oppressor's:
"English-speaking group"
In Workshop 2 on
Ethnicity, Culture,
Education and Identity.

We come from far and near.
The circle comes full:
Truth-telling,
Wound-baring,
Struggle-daring.

We are not guinea pigs.
No,
We are not for display,
For listening to our stories
With an ear for documentation.

Will you pamphletize our tears,
Turn our blood into gold
Or just go home
Feeling lucky you aren't we?

We name our pain,
Endless litany of afflictions: Bondage,
Suppressed spirit,
Repressed desire,
Violence,
Rape,
Child abuse,
Prostitution,
Drugs, alcohol,
Turning agony inward,
Self-hating,
Self-loathing,
Self-destructing,
Guilt,
Shame,
Being patronized
And appeased,
Pacified,
Silenced.

Knowing Christians
Don't love each other,
Mutilated,
Dismembered,
The pain of no pain
With no knowledge of
Oppressed people's pain,
Ashamed.

Yet as we
Touch our wounds
With reverence,
We proclaim:
We are not bound, trapped
And defined by pain.
We are not victims.
We are more than our pain.
We are bigger than all these.
Our identity is complete,
We are whole.

Re-membered,
We struggle.

We speak,
Knowing that each word
Uttered
Risks more hurt,
Death.

We refuse to suffer.
We resist amnesia.

We challenge our churches
To live out their "respect of
Self-determination,"
Dismantle structures
Of racism
And the system that
Allows oppression
Of women.

We weave dreams
And hope,
Organizing,
Studying, learning,
Training for leadership,
Marching for freedom,
Building coalitions
And networks of
Power,
Not based on equality
With the oppressor majority.

We create new relationships,
Neither dominant nor hierarchical.

In our new Home
Of Faith,
Of the Spirit
Connected,
We claim
Our place in history,
Proud to stand with our
Ancestors,
Foremothers,
Storytellers,
Flowing in us, through us.

We are the
Great River of Memory
The circle comes full
We are.

 

(Ed. note: This poem was composed at the second International Consultation on Minority Issues and Mission Strategies, October 1994, Kyoto, Japan.)