Race & Culture


by ilsa mir 

being a person of color is an apartment building going up in flames

is people always pointing at you from downstairs
telling you it's your fault

that your rib cage is not a fire escape

that your skin burns so quickly

it is people with match sticks for fingers and mouths that reek of gas

telling you it is your fault
the fire started in the first place 



by ilsa mir

blood paints in the same color but your blood trickles
and their blood gushes

how can you compare
a spring rain to the hurricanes in the summer 


The Escape 

by edel ahmad

No one leaves home unless home is the soldier raping your sister, 

Baati pulled up to waist, 

Legs forced down at the ankles, 

Eyes hungry, 


No one leaves home unless home is a rubble of belongings and memories, 

A space where a house once stood, 

Thick clouds of debris painting the sky, 


No one leaves home unless home is self-destructing, 

Counting down backwards from 10, 

Bombs detonating in the busiest of markets, 


No one leaves home unless home looks like the barrel of a gun, 


No one simply leaves home, 

They escape



Mother Tongue

By Edel Ahmad 


When my mouth betrays my mother tongue, 

I play Saado Ali and hum the x's and c's, 

Re-teaching my tongue to bend at the right angles, 

And my lips the right time to open and close, 



I think in Somali, 

Mostly in short sentences, 

"Waa daalanahay" 

I'm tired, 

"Waa kuu xiisay" 

I miss you, 

"Waa ku jecelahay" 

I love you, 


When I speak in English to other Americans, 

They ask me: "Where are you from?" 

I tell them I'm American, 

They tell me: "I know that, but where are you from?" 



I tell them I'm Somali, 

They ask me "But how come you don't have an accent?" 

And I want to cry, 

I carry the language in my mouth, 

Neatly tucked beneath my tongue, 

Waiting for the opportunity to be used, 


Most days I feel more American than Somali but I'm never American enough, 

Most days I feel as though I don't belong, 

That my body was never meant to endure these winters, 

I look for home in the eyes of my people, 

I listen for it's sounds in the way they tell stories, 

The animation, 

The onomatopoeia, 

The way they describe the setting, 

But it still doesn't make me Somali enough, 


Baba tells me how he never learned to swim, 

That my grandmother was afraid the sea was too hungry to spit him back out, 

I dream about running into the Indian Ocean, 

The way she would wave hello, 

And whisper "soo dhowow" 

Welcoming me home, 

I wonder if she will enter my mouth and rid me of my accent? 

If I will spit her back out and be able to effortlessly sing every Saado Ali song, 


"Ma jiifsado cawadee (I cant sleep at night), 

Dharaartii ma joogi karo (I cant stay alone without you during the daytime), 

Dhinaca aad iga jirtaa , qalbiigu ii jiidayaa (My heart pulls me to whatever side you are) 



Black Love by Uma Samari

The curls in your kinks 

Cradle my neck when you're this close, 

I almost mistake your hair for my own. 

Lover of mine,  

How you look like me! 

Tender, human, black, free.

Today I Saw Lady Liberty Drowning

by Edel Ahmed 


Today I saw lady liberty drowning, 

She stands for nothing anymore so, she jumped, 

Into the New York harbor, 

Choking on the tears of the black, Muslim, immigrant mothers, 

Who have long since flooded the waters, 


They take our children then put us on TV, 

Show the country which womb they snatched the life from this week, 

They rally for the rights of the unborn child, 

But when you come out in this brown skin, 

You aren't worthy of a bag of skittles, cigarettes, suhuur with your friends, a traffic ticket, 

Instead, they puncture your body, steal your life, and walk free, 


Tell me, how long will brown and black bodies have to be target practice before you 

admit you don't want us here? 


And when we gather and stand up, 

When we fight back, 

They tell us to go home, 

Ask us to get a job, 

Tell us we are just lazy, 


When we say we will take those tired, those poor, your huddled masses, 

They tell us to build a wall, 

To close our waters, 

To book the return flight, 


When we say black lives matter, 

They tell us all lives matter, 


But whose funeral did we have to attend? 

Whose body did we just wash and wrap in white cloth? 

Whose life did we pray upon and bury today? 

Which mother did we have to console this week? 



Living in this skin feels more like drowning, 

Like screaming for help but no one can hear, 

Like a game of how much more can you take? 


And I can't take anymore 



Pray, Say & Slay Team