Youth Voices

Untitled Poem

August 5th, 2016     by Elizabeth Ouedraogo     Comments

Illustration by Erin McPhee

It’s a name not a novelty.
Not a game, or a grotesque display of freakishness.

It’s a name, not a chorus.
Ask me once how it’s said and I will answer you patiently. Ask me twice and I’ll believe that you’ve forgotten. Ask me three times and I might snap. Ask me every day and I might respect you a little less. Attempt to shout it at me every time you see me, and I’ll know to you it’s just a joke.

I’ll know you never cared to learn
That it’s a name with a meaning And a history Seeped in rich culture
That’s been for generations mocked by Smiths and McDonalds. But that you would choose to ignore.

It’s a name that you’d respect if perhaps you asked a different question. In a country you’ve never heard of it’s the most common name of all. In a tongue you’ve never spoken it means stallion, The revered animal on which my ancestors fought yours. At times I think mine won, Then your ignorance once again stains my history And I know I must keep fighting because I am not ashamed. Even though you all tell me that I should be.

It’s a name infused with pride that I have bled for because you all are so keep to strip me of it.
It’s a name I’ll never change no matter who I marry or who can’t pronounce it.

It’s a name I’ll never shorten no matter the growing number of wide-mouthed gawkers perpetually unable to comprehend that O - U - E is sometimes pronounced like W-A-Y.

It’s a name I’ll forever be associated with and identified as even though I’ve cried time and time again to Remember me not for the person I was born as, For the names I did not choose Or the child I am today. Remember me for my accomplishments My future victories and The person I will one day be.

The person that has learned to bear her impossible last name like an armour built to protect herself from your disgust disguised as wonder. The person whose last name she wears like a medal won from a race no one believes she ran.

Tags: youth

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