MY CLAIM TO VICTIMHOOD

I am one quarter Irish
Treated as savages by the English
Living on potatoes
We suffered
potato blight
mass famine
The World let us starve
Like we were trash
Like we were nothing.

Ship steerage stowaways
To a better life
We had nothing
African slaves were
Unloaded first
At least they had
Some value.

Here the signs read:
No Irish
No Irish Allowed
No Irish Need Apply
Riffraff.

My little red-haired grandmother
Remembers a cross burning
In her yard
In upstate New York
The K.K.K.
Didn't just hate blacks and Jews
They hated the Papist Irish, too.

Persecuted! Victimized! Discriminated against!

I am one quarter Italian
guinea
dago
wop
without papers
grease balls
little pizza makers
gangsters
criminals
dirty crooks
Scum of the Earth
Degraded by Hollywood stereotypes
We required an
Italian American Anti Defamation League.

Persecuted! Victimized! Discriminated against!

I am one quarter Lithuanian
Meatheads
Who changed our family name
At the border
So people wouldn't think
We were Polish.

Lithuania
Merged into Poland
Annexed by Russia
Vilnius University closed
other institutions of higher education closed
the Catholic Church curbed
Catholic monasteries closed
Russian Orthodox declared state religion
Lithuanians barred from purchasing
Our own land
Or erecting crosses
Or new churches
The cultural life
Of Lithuania
Paralyzed.

Persecuted! Victimized! Discriminated against!

I am one quarter
French
Huguenots
Run out of France
At the point of a
Sword
With all the other
Non-Catholics

Persecuted! Victimized! Discriminated against!

All of my quarters
Have been accounted for
And they add to
One hundred percent
Each one of the four has been:

Persecuted! Victimized! Discriminated against!

Were we just too proud to be victims?
© 2003 by Michael J. Farrand

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