This is the official blog of Northern Arizona slam poet Christopher Fox Graham. Begun in 2002, and transferred to blogspot in 2006, FoxTheBlog has recorded more than 670,000 hits since 2009. This blog cover's Graham's poetry, the Arizona poetry slam community and offers tips for slam poets from sources around the Internet. Read CFG's full biography here. Looking for just that one poem? You know the one ... click here to find it.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

"Brown Boy. White House" by Amir Safi

Performed for the Austin National Poetry Slam Team during semifinals at the 2013 National Poetry Slam in Boston, Mass.

"Brown Boy. White House"
by Amir Safi

I once asked my father,
If it was okay not go to daycare anymore.
He smiled and asked, "Why?"
and I still have trouble giving him straight answers.
So he watched one day as a group of white children pulled his son from the monkey bars.

I still have calluses on my hands.
I still have a hard time letting things go.
The teachers explained to my father that this is how children play.
Twenty years later and this is still how we play.
So he pulled me from their care and put me in a church,
where I learned that Jesus still has calluses on his hands.
He still has a hard time letting some people go.
Growing up in Texas,
One learns to practice patience,
Practice repetition patience,
Patience makes perfect.

The best birthday present I get every year is a telephone call from my grandmother.
I remember walking with her through department stores as people would stare.
I remember getting very angry because I was taught it was impolite to stare.
I was taught that was not the purpose of a hijab.
I believe this is why people have stopped wearing their faith,
Unless it can be conveniently concealed under their shirt.
Maybe if people don't stare then God won't either.
Growing up in Texas,
One learns to practice patience,
Practice repetition patience,
Patience makes perfect.
I was made fun of for being Mexican, until 9/11. Then it was Arab or terrorist. I'm not Persian that country no longer exists. Iranian- American is an oxymoron Muslim-American a paradox.
A girl asks me, "Where are you from then, Amir?"
I answer, "Well, I was born in Iowa."
She then says, "Oh really, is that in the Middle East?"
A boy approaches me in a high school hallway and says,
"If you were from Afghanistan, I'd beat your ass."
The three words I should've said were "I love you."
Instead I said, "Wish you would!"
It was then I understood how your Patriots' Act. If the French gave us the Statue of Liberty in 2003, we would have given it back because they didn't go to war with us in Ee-rock/Eye-rack.
When the French did give us the Statue of Liberty,
we gave her back.
At first,
she was black.

Save diversity for a skittles package,
but even then we all pick our favorites.

We like our borders like our picket fences. WHITE WASHED.
A red boy is given a white name.
Black slaves paint a white house.
Public schools teach that it is important to assimilate,
so a yellow girl's parents do the same.
But, how will they ever learn how to pronounce our names if we keep changing them?
Do you think people naturally know how to pronounce Cry-stal or Chris-top-her?
English is neither phonetic nor forgiving,
That's why I find comfort when a boy named Cassius molds his last name into Ali in an attempt to salvage his identity. The ring is the only time he faced a fair fight.
If black is the culmination of all colors, then why do we keep trying to stir this melting pot white?
My name is Amir Safi. I still have calluses on my hands. I still have a hard time letting things go.

Amir Safi © 2013

Amir Safi’s poetry is the result of a collision between his Iranian culture and his Texan upbringing. He is a graduate of Texas A&M University where he received a degree in Biology.

“What better subject to study than the science of life?”

While in school, he co-founded 501(c)(3) poetry nonprofit Mic Check and the Texas Grand Slam Poetry Festival.

Upon moving to Houston, Amir founded Write About Now Poetry, a weekly poetry slam and open-mic that meets every Wednesday at 7:30 PM at Avantgarden. Amir is the 2013 Southern Fried Poetry Slam Champion, a 2013 National Poetry Slam semi-finalist, a featured artist on Upworthy, and he has performed at shows and concerts featuring performers ranging from Anis Mojgani to Stalley.

For more information, contact or booking, like Amir on Facebook:

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