Remembering Rosa Parks

That week Rosa Parks was lying in state in Washington, DC
I asked the students what they knew of her
There was the standard talk

Her sitting down
Her standing up
How courageous she was

Deema raised her hand and had a story to tell
One of the students she works with
Had the following experience on the bus

Like many Afghan girls who’ve come to the U.S.
Ayesha wears the head covering
Her English is steadily improving

She makes good use of the time on the bus
To study the odd English verb conjugations
She’s minding her own business

When a middle-aged African-American woman
Gets on the full bus
Sees her and stops dead in her tracks:

“You, terrorist!
What are you doing here, get off this bus!
Go back to your country!”

The woman gets so close to Ayesha
That she can feel the woman’s spittle
Hitting her face

Ayesha stands up
Offers the woman her seat
And says, “This is my country now”

The older woman scowls
Ayesha slowly walks away
As it is her stop

She turns around to look at the woman
She looks for five seconds or so
The driver asks, “Are you staying or leaving?”

Ayesha turns to the driver:
“I’ve leaving this bus
And I’m staying in this country”

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