Dear America: From A Concerned Poet
Ashley Rhame is a native of Roanoke, Virginia who began writing poetry at the age of 21. She has self-published two books, Soul Cry and God’s Eye. She is currently writing her third book of poetry, "Chasing the Sun", which is set to release later this year. Her hope with this release is to create space to voice challenges within childhood, womanhood, and beliefs. Her work has been featured in the Artemis Journal, alongside poets like Nikki Giovanni in the Appalachian area. Ashley has also lead workshops at Hollins University, Girls Rock Roanoke, church youth departments, and other local organizations. You can find her every other Wednesday night at Soul Sessions using her voice to create a space that’s loving, reflective, and healthy. When she is not writing poetry, she enjoys photography, reading, sipping tea, and indulging in sweets.
How come “Make America Great Again” doesn’t carry the same zeal or enthusiasm for everyone?
We all are taxpayers and abide by the same set of rules, ultimately in order to enjoy the luxuries of this great land. However, in the mornings, when we all open our eyes, we witness so many different realities. The woman sitting across from me has never lived in my world or experienced what I have as a black woman, born and raised on American soil. Yet, we live within miles of one another. I’m not always home; I have this desire to see new places; all of what America has to offer. But I’m blind if I cannot see the injustice my community faces daily.
Recently, I visited Chicago, sometimes known as “The Windy City” for the first time. I was super excited to be in a new place. We all hear the bad news that goes on in major cities throughout America. Still, I wasn’t afraid to visit. The DuSable Museum of African American History was miles away from touristy areas. On the way there, more people that looked like me boarded the train. “Building a New Chicago” billboards became more scarce the closer I got to my destination.
I wasn’t worried about the news or the negative remarks towards vacationing in Chicago. Not once did I feel threatened or afraid for my life. I understood, at least a little to identify home wasn’t as far as one would think. I’m not from a big city but where I’m from (rural southwest Virginia) it’s not hard to tell exactly when you enter the inner city. The roads are filled with potholes. Our schools have lower test scores and lower graduation rates. We are pulled over and harassed by those who are here to protect and serve. We are overlooked too; it’s not just the Southside of Chicago.
America, I guess I don’t have anything to tell you. I have questions.
How will America be great for everyone?
Or was it ever supposed to be great for everyone?
Do you really not support women, those who literally carry life in their hands?
With so many resources, why do we still have people living in poverty? How much will be enough?
Will black people ever be free here? Will the dreams of black boys and girls’ ever be important?
"Our voices won’t be silenced/Our freedom is your biggest debt
Oh America/We come to collect..."
A Concerned Poet,