Throughout this election season, NPR and its member stations have been having a national conversation called "A Nation Engaged." The project has looked at central themes in this year's election, including this week's question:
What does it actually mean to be American?
We put this question to some promising young spoken word artists, and we'll be sharing their poems with you all week.
Today, we bring you a poem entitled The Land of the Free by LéAndra Gregory, a student and Citywide Poet at Detroit Schools of the Arts.
The Land of the Free, by LéAndra Gregory
"... One nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all ...?"
We are supposedly one nation, but it seems as if were only good at dividing.
It runs in our genes. You see, there’s always been a line we shouldn't cross as a people.
We've learned that living in America, you speak when spoken to, hold your hands up high when a police officer approaches you, and you have every opportunity
that the next person has.
Under God but... fear that one day we won't make it to tomorrow
Fear to leave our homes for an education, because school is no longer a safe haven,
Left feeling as if our prayers weren't being answered, started seeing my people pray less
With liberty... I believed we were meant to be free.
Witness first hand what’s it like to be hated for being you
We have the voice to speak, yet nobody wishes to speak until it’s too late
Were imprisoned in our minds... so we spend our time following in footsteps.
Searching for our leaders it's hard making a living on your own.
Justice for all but our police stations have certain hours we can come into them.
Rape kits remain untested, murders are committed but these killers aren't persecuted
We march and protest to be heard, yet it appears as if we do it just to be ignored.
See life in America isn't as easy as people may imagine it to be.
We have our fair shares of bomb threats to our schools,
Contamination to the water we drink due to an act of carelessness.
But see behind every dark cloud there’s a silver lining,
Every maze has an end to it.
Life in America is rough just like every other place,
But we are the land of the free, and the home of the brave.
LéAndra Gregory is a student and Citywide Poet at Detroit School of the Arts. She's entering her third year of Citywide Poets.