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Mr. President - By: Fatima Siddiqi

Mr. president

You lay the rug, your white house of an America,


Bordering all parameters

Blanketing over all fifty states

From the edge of Redwood City, all the way to Jersey Shore

Drench the earth in red, blue, and white paint

You, Mr. President

You declare ‘genuine peace’

In your 1960’s optimistic Americana of a speech

Voicing the ambitious pursuit of an aspiring dream

As you wave the American flag, proudly, from the west coast to the east

Strangers, foreigners, visitors, immigrants

They grasp the abundance of your land

An intriguing mechanism under the name of capitalism

Opportunity and freedom, an immigrants perception for what America stands

You, Mr. President, you laid your carpet of missiles across pure land

Libya, Somalia, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Pakistan

In a revolutionary redefinition of terrorism, under a blood infested presidency

A homicidal monument, courtesy of Obama Administration

Obliteration, a brutal eradication of civilization, bombs

Approximately twenty-six thousand one hundred and seventy-one

As immigrants taxes extend from recreational funds, to soldiers armed with guns

Annihilating the very countries that they came from

I ask you , Mr. President,

For a country that crowns not a king or a sultan, but liberty

Where is freedom

Is freedom the ignoring of an ongoing genocide?

Is freedom idly witnessing the murder of 150 civilians last year in Palestine?

Is freedom the arming of weaponry?

Is it brutal the killings of over 400,000 Yemenis?

Is it the otherwise illegal 2003 Iraqi invasion?

Wiping out the entirety of a struggling nation

1 million, dead

Innocent children, women, men

I was born in the state of Jersey with a roof over my head

Privileged, American, free

What do I know about genocide?

What do I know about innocent lives?

My ancestors fought for education and the earning of a degree

How can I oppose the very country that has given me the capability to pursue opportunity?

But I must choose for what I stand, and with the freedom that I have been given, I stand with the motherland

Because opportunity and the pursuit of a degree, isn’t as valuable to me, then the countless atrocities

Committed against my people of my skin, my face, my hair, and my faith

So I stand for freedom, because I, Mr. President

I am American

Please give a detailed explanation about the meaning and main idea of this poem.

My poem, “Mr. President”, discusses the hypocrisy Western media, primarily American media, has regarding genocidal attacks towards Muslim and Middle Eastern countries, and the stereotypes associated with these groups of people. My poem strongly touches on the idea of American Nationalism and ambition, taking inspiration from 1960’s American culture/patriotism that was especially prevalent in the era of John. F Kennedy. By referencing major American symbols such as the White House, the American flag, and the fifty states, I aim to paint a vivid picture of America that is reminiscent of nationalism and American pride. The rug that is labeled as the “White House of an America” which is a metaphor for the government’s sovereignty that is prevalent across America. I accentuate this idea in the lines that follow by mentioning the west coast and the east coast, and Redwood City and Jersey Shore. Through these references, I pose the implication that American ambition, nationalism, and patriotism is something consistent that is relevant across America, and that America’s greatest societal strength historically and today is the pride Americans have for their country. Following these lines, I start to talk about immigrants, and how they romanticize their perception of America out of desire for the “American Dream”. It is after the mentioning of immigration that I start to transition from America and nationalism to their genocides in Muslim countries, by stating that America’s “White House of an America rug” extends far beyond America itself, and onto other countries. ‘Revolutionary redefinition of terrorism’ refers to the hypocrisy in media and news outlets in the portrayal of Muslims as well as Muslim-Arab-South Asian targeted hate crimes, namely after the tragedy of 9/11. My objective for this specific stage of my poem was to demonstrate my frustration, by continuously listing the crimes committed against the civilians of these countries, as well as significant and factual statistics, such as “approximately twenty-six thousand one hundred and seventy-one”, and “is it the otherwise illegal 2003 Iraqi invasion?”. It is after the lines “innocent children, women, men” that a major shift occurs in my poem, where I transition from talking about America and other countries to myself, and my personal story. I implement personal details about myself into the poem, such as where I was born and my background in New Jersey. I then portray myself to be making a decision regarding my stance on politics, which is the overarching conflict of the entire poem. This area of the poem includes me questioning myself, and having a conversation with myself about what I want to align myself with and believe. I conclude the poem, by mentioning the President I had written the poem for, I resolve my internal conflict by embracing my American identity and the freedom that has been given to me with it, while standing with my country and standing up for what I think is right.

Please explain your writing and thought process regarding this poem.

One of my major interests is politics, and I always wanted to write a politically coded piece that would represent my worldviews and the way I navigate politics in a way that correlates to my identity. In addition, I am also heavily interested in the analysis of music, and discussing the deeper meaning behind the very songs we all listen to and love, and before writing the poem I had recently analyzed one of my favorite songs for a school project called 'National Anthem', by Lana Del Rey. Through vigorous research, I realized that behind the glamourous and opulent symbols embedded throughout the lyrics, the primary theme of the song is the phenomenon of American ambition, and how it played a major role in the history of America. This further broadened my interest for politics as well as world history, so I began the writing process instinctively with no sense of direction, and instinctively created a a collection of rhymes and phrases that related American ambition to my personal identity and country. I ended up composing multiple lines that I was proud of, but I was unsure of how I wanted to unify all the lines I had created. After some reflection, I thought about the music video of the song I had analyzed earlier (National Anthem by Lana Del Rey), and I had remembered that there was a monologue that was dedicated to the American president, specifically, JFK. This gave me the idea to write my poem as a letter, or a question specifically written for the president, which ended up unifying all my ideas to create the poem I have submitted today.

Why did you choose to write this poem?

As mentioned earlier, I am heavily interested in politics, as well as literature. One of my core values that I adopted from my father when I grew up is being able to critically think and formulate my own opinion, as well as maintain my authenticity and staying true to my values. However, researching about politics as I got older made me realize that the politics in our world is incredibly messy and confusing, especially for young and impressionable minds trying to adapt to adulthood such as myself. There have been many instances in which I have researched about certain political issues for hours on end, to the point where my head hurts and I feel dissatisfied for the sole fact that I couldn't come to a conclusion. A major issue that has made me feel this way and continues to make me feel this way is America's involvement and conflict with Muslim countries, namely Pakistan as that is where I am from. I feel an immense amount of conflict within myself when I specifically research about this topic, as I was also born in America, and was raised and went to school amidst American culture. I also find American history and culture to be very fascinating, and I naturally feel a sense of pride towards America as well as Pakistan. My American-Pakistani background has created a lot of conflict within myself, as it is difficult for me navigate politics through clarity and identity what and who I should side with. It is for this reason that I wanted to write this poem, as I wanted to give myself an opportunity to voice my confusion and frustration, and come to a resolution to my conflict.

Do you have any tips or anything to share with the youth writers who may be reading this?

My greatest tip I can give any young writer is to keep a journal or some kind of documentation of all your ideas and free writes. Consistently write in your journal whenever you have an idea, it doesn't have to be perfect- the messier, the better. This will help you get into the habit of quickly being able to generate ideas, and allow you to focus on the quality of your ideas rather than grammar or errors.

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