by David L Williams
|Cartoon by Nick Anderson at The Week|
A Republican state lawmaker has launched an investigation into Texas school districts over the type of books they have, particularly if they pertain to race or sexuality or "make students feel discomfort." State Rep. Matt Krause, in his role as chair of the House Committee on General Investigating, notified the Texas Education Agency that he is "initiating an inquiry into Texas school district content," according to an Oct. 25 letter obtained by The Texas Tribune… His list of titles includes bestsellers and award winners alike, from the 1967 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron and Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates to last year's book club favorites: “Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women that a Movement Forgot” by Mikki Kendall and Isabel Wilkerson's Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. —The Texas Tribune, October 26, 2021
The Brahmin cried, ‘I found a corpse inside
My mind, and gave it decent burial
To finally start the journey of my life
That had to wait until I became equal.’
I learned of this while reading a great book
I’d heard so much about, and now at last
Am disappointed at how long it took
To broach deep inequalities from Caste.
I doubt the author will raise much complaint
My paraphrasing that self-reformed Brahmin
Who boldly cast away the lifelong taint
He felt from having had to wear an emblem
Of how this hierarchy in history
Inflicted untold horrors and misery
Which still continue to the present day
Enslaved as mudsills in the USA.
Editor's Note: In quotation marks in stanza one is a paraphrase adapted from the words of a Brahmin quoted by Isabel Wilkerson on page 364 of Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. Minor adaptations by the poet create here a sort of “found poetic stanza.” For more on Wilkerson's book, see her NYT Magazine piece "America’s Enduring Caste System" and Sunil Khilnani’s New Yorker review, “Isabel Wilkerson’s World-Historical Theory of Race and Caste.”
David L Williams is recently retired from 34 years teaching high school English in Lincoln, Nebraska, his primary residence since he went to college there in the 80s. His poetry has mostly been written since May of 2021, and he has only recently started trying to publish, with success already in several journals.