Student poets victimised for anti-war stance

Issue 

NEW MEXICO, USA — On March 17, the day of US President George Bush's
televised announcement of the imminent US military attack on Iraq, Green
Left Weekly
writer Bill Nevins was suspended from his teaching job
at Rio Rancho New Mexico public high school. The student Poetry Slam Team/Write
Club, which Nevins organises and sponsors, was also barred from performing
their outspoken words in public.

This took place after an anti-war poem written by a Rio Rancho New Mexico
poetry team member read out a poem over the in-school closed circuit TV
system. Following the reading, the student's parent (also a teacher at
the school) was ordered by an assistant principal to go home and search
the student's room for a print copy of the poem. The parent declined to
do so. All members of the poetry team were individually interrogated by
the school administration.

The charge against Nevins is that he permitted students to perform at
public poetry readings without approved "field trip" forms being on file.
Nevins is fighting the suspension with the strong support of the New Mexico
teachers' union.

The Slam Team/Write Club has achieved local fame for the courageous
way that multicultural youth from the school and the community had put
their words of anger and protest into fine-crafted poetry. They have delivered
these bursts of truth on local television, in print and at frequent poetry
open mikes throughout central New Mexico.

The team was planning to appear at the Taos State Wide Youth Poetry
Slam on March 21 but was told by the Rio Rancho High School administration
on March 17 that they may be barred from going there by the school. Several
students vowed to go to Taos anyway and to speak out there against repression
in the USA, denial of free speech at their school and the suspension of
Nevins.

GLW readers are asked to send protest letters to New Mexico governor
Bill Richardson from his web site at <http://www.governor.state.nm.us>.

Below is the poem that was read out:

Revolution X

Bush said no child would be left behind

And yet kids from inner-city schools

Work on Central Avenue

Jingling cans that read

Please sir, may I have some more?

They hand out diplomas like toilet paper

And lower school standards

Because

Underpaid, unrespected teachers

Are afraid of losing their jobs

Funded by the standardised tests

That shows our competency

When I'm in detox.

This is the Land of the Free ...

Where the statute of limitations for rape is only five damn years!

And immigrants can't run for President.

Where Muslims are hunted because

Some suicidal men decided they didn't like

Our arrogant bid for modern imperialism.

This is the Land of the Free ...

You drive by a car whose

Bumper screams

God bless America!

Well, you can scratch out the B

And make it Godless

Because God left this country a long time ago.

The founding fathers made this nation

On a dream and now

Freedom of Speech

Lets Nazis burn crosses, but

Calls police to

Gay pride parades.

We somehow

Can afford war with Iraq

But we can't afford to pay the teachers

Who educate the young who hold the guns

Against the "Axis of Evil"

Land of the Free ...

This is the land

If you're politically assertive

They call you a traitor and

Damn you to ostracism.

Say good-bye to Johnny Walker Lindh

And his family.

Bye Bye.

American Pie.

So maybe

My ideas about this nation

Don't resolve around perfection

But at least I know

Education is more important

Than money.

Land of the Free . . .

If this was utopia

We'd have to see each other naked

Before we got married

But instead, we see each other naked all the time

Because the government has my social security number

And the name of my dog!

And then we make babies,

But don't worry, they won't be left behind

And they grow up saying

God bless America!

But they don't know who Bush is

Because they never learned the Presidents.

And they will ride the ship Amistad

To our dreamland shores

Bearing the same shackles as us.

I'm here to say that

Generation X

Is pissed and we are taking over,

Ripping down the American illusion of perfection

We are the future generation

I have my qualifications

I know it looks like Angel Soft paper,

But don't worry

It's a diploma

Do I look qualified?

You can take our toilet paper,

But you can't take our Revolution.

From Green Left Weekly, March 26, 2003.

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