The System

Degree

They say the white boy cannot milk
The system. His only welfare
Is a map of hierarchy, where
He stands on top among the white fellows.
Privilege in the 21st century
Has become Lucifer’s virtue.

All the while the Indian kid
Born to the Computer Engineer from Calcutta
Enters Harvard on merit.
Genes are erecting geniuses
On the east coast.

And the young man from Harlem
Tunnels through a minority scheme
And enters the walls of Stanford.
The under-represented becoming
The ghetto over-achievers.

And the system is littered with
Statements of purpose, of dreams
That were built on shoulders, and not on text books,
Breaking open the system.
A system that no longer forgets
The hoopster from Bronx.

And the system is just pigeon holing
Destinies. The ladders, the quick fixes
Of an education. Still there are no easy ways
Out of your birth rite – Just ask the young black man
At John Hopkins how colorblind
A cocked gun can be? He will only smirk
In scorn.

System can never break the stranglehold of color
Of how a white piece of cardboard
With a few letters next to a name
Dwarfs next to color-coded ethnicities.
Young black men are only paper-boatmen
Floating their dreams on puddles of water
When there are rockets to be made.

And the dream is still not a dream.
Like wings trapped inside cocoon walls
Searching for a little orifice
To use his paper wings to fly away
To a colorblind world

Holding one hollow ribbon-tied parchment
To resist the hollow barrel of a gun.

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Author: meandererworld (Dilantha Gunawardana)

Dr Dilantha Gunawardana is a molecular biologist who graduated from the University of Melbourne. He moonlights as a poet. His poems have been accepted/published in Forage, American Journal of Poetry, Kitaab, Eastlit and Ravens Perch. He mixes science with poetry for a living, when what matters is the expression of both DNA and words into something serendipitous. Although an Australian citizen, Dilantha is domiciled in Sri Lanka, his country of birth.

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