Quintessence of African American


My country…
Tis of thee.
Bittersweet land, apparition of liberty.
So long withheld from me…

Of thee I see
Land where my fathers died,
Land where the pilgrims cried.
A pretense of courtesy,
But held disdain deep.
Likewise, today people in positions of authority
And opportunity.

My country…
When will you unchain the shackles: mentally
Historically, and physically
That bind us
Civilly to hypocrisy.

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  1. Cameron on February 1, 2021 at 12:59 PM


    I love your creativity in this poem! It’s such a strong idea of changing the words of a classic American song to show what America is actually like for a majority of its people. Really great job! I can’t wait to read more!


  2. Maya S. on February 2, 2021 at 12:57 PM

    PJ, this poem gave me the chills to read! I love your use of a traditionally patriotic song to highlight the fact that American ideals have historically (and still to this day) exclude black people. The way you change the lyrics (ex: “apparition of liberty”) is so powerful as it rewrites the narrative. And the last stanza especially stood out to me. Please keep writing and thank you for sharing such an important message!


  3. Lexx on February 3, 2021 at 12:11 AM


    I love how you changed the words of such a patriotic song to show how American ideals have always excluded African Americans. Thank you for sharing this!

    – Lexx

  4. Joyce on February 3, 2021 at 3:54 PM

    Dear PJ,

    This is so creative and honest. I think you capture what many of us feel about this country right now. Changing the traditional lyrics to a patriotic American song is such a powerful way of conveying your message. You do a great job of highlighting the injustice that certain people in our country face. There is strong imagery in this poem as well. I love that your last stanza contains a question. It offers a little bit of hope, as you’re asking your country, when will you change? I hope that we can change for the better.


  5. Kathy on February 4, 2021 at 10:09 AM

    Wow! This is such a powerful poem. It’s short, sharp, penetrating, and insightful. Thanks for sharing your writing.

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