DM ( / )

A Bucket And A Tent

America has no caste system
but America has castes.
Like every other nation

America has its rich and poor
with everyone else sardined
in tight rows in between.

But America doesn't have
Untouchables, as some people
in India are called.

Yet in Mumbai and St. Louis
there are people who live in tents
and use a bucket for a bathroom.

In India, birth determines caste.
In America, color of skin
determines caste.

No matter how successful
black or brown Americans
may be, they remain

black or brown even when
they supervise pale folks
they otherwise might

never have to meet.
What's in their wallets
matters not if pale folks

can't see beyond skin
that's black or brown.
Ask any American of color.

Yet some people black and brown
from castes in other nations
drown on the way to America.

They believe they're free
to earn a living here
and some of them

are doing that while
native Americans, both
dark and pale, survive on

Medicaid and food stamps
provided they're poor enough
to qualify for one or both.

But even if they qualify,
some find themselves in time
with a bucket living in a tent.

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Maya Angelou

Caged Bird

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