Manual High Student Poems: Dream Deferred

Dream Deferred

-by Carlos Hernandez-Tovar


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    Manual High Student Poems: Dream Deferred kgnu


Students from Manual High School in Denver visited KGNU recently to record some of their poetry. In their 10th grade American Literature class, the students have been writing, discussing, and reading about “The American Dream”. They’ve been inspired to write their own poetry on this theme. KGNU will be featuring these poems throughout January.


America the land of the free,
but the culture to judge.

Judge you based on color of your skin, or a paper you don’t have;
Rob you of your life just cuz they don’t know who you are,
treated like the stereotypes say you should be treated.
Because your skin is brown,
You are a criminal, a janitor, a landscaper.

Yours is the dream deferred.

Not wanting to educate you, so you
hand a bag through a window at McDonalds
cuz they think that’s all you’re capable of.
Going to a chemical world of drugs,
to escape the harsh reality of this world.

What happens to the unfulfilled dream of a kid who wants to become a lawyer,
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun
when society tells him “you can’t cuz, that’s not what your people do”?

Yours is the dream deferred.
To serve and protect
or to protect others from me?
Shot 17 times for having too much melanin.

I’m not considered white, but I’m also not black.
Is white really a color of the skin?
Or is it a way of life?
My people dying of dehydration.
crossing the border in order to get a better education,
when in reality it’s all just a huge falsification,
hope it’s all a hallucination.
We only serve those who can afford it,
but we say
if you are poor, you must be lazy.
work harder.
Work harder.

Ours is the dream deferred.
Oh say can you see? The barcode imbedded into my fingerprint?
Turning my DNA into a binary code to identify me.
They don’t trust me to tell them my real name,
why should I trust them with my life?
Our families deported because this land isn’t ours.
But have you ever wondered why it is called Baja California?
What happened to Alta California?
I didn’t cross the border, the border crossed me.
They separate us with a fence
like animals that
they don’t want to escape.
Where would we escape to?
Across the fence they talk about utopia,
a land of the free,
but it’s just a replica of
what you were trying to run away from.

Now repeat after me,
I am free,
but wait, why am I in chains?
why are these windows barred?

Ours is the dream deferred.

“Oh look, you have deferred action,
now you can get a job and pay taxes!”
As if I wasn’t paying them before.
As if all the dollars paid
from undocumented laborers
with fake social security numbers
isn’t the only thing keeping that system afloat.

They think I’m a criminal,
just because I’m not the right color.

But in reality, my dreams are the same as yours.
A family.
A house.
And most important,
The Right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

But, mine is the dream deferred.

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    Manual High Student Poems: Dream Deferred kgnu

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