Rust-colored hair and freckles like mud specks made me a target, easy prey for schoolmates of mixed races. Brown children chased me through the mile-high city projects of Denver with worms, they threatened, sometimes managed, to slip down the back of my shirt as I ran screaming toward the direction of wherever home was those days. My older brother pummeled them with balled-up fists. Determined grit showed in his eyes and mouth. He blocked their pathways, took their wrath, as I ran and ran and ran from their chants of, “White Patsy! White Patsy!” We were five and six years old. It was the full-bodied, black- skinned woman, who lived in the same building as ours, who motioned me in as I watched hungrily from her open doorway. She kneaded white flour mixed with brown into loaves of bread. Soon, delicious smells of rising yeast floated throughout the cold, rat-infested building. She’d lift the top from a barrel beside where she stood, rub her warm brown hands across her apron, take a slice of day-old bread, sprinkling sugar and cinnamon on it, before placing it into my outstretched hand, then pull me against her for a quick, firm hug. I was a stray she fed daily. Decades later, the day my stepsister called to tell me my father had killed my mother, I learned her name was Myra Hodges.
Ronda Miller is a Life Coach and author of five books of poetry. Her latest book, I Love the Child, took first place at the 2020 State Kansas Authors Club Convention. Miller is a former state president of Kansas Authors Club, 2018-2019, and created poetry forms Loku and Ukol. Miller’s presentations across the United States include, Rewriting Your Trauma, and Talking to Crickets (we all live until we die).
Guest editor, Denise Low, Kansas Poet Laureate 2007-09, is winner of a Red Mountain Press’s Editor’s Choice Award for Shadow Light. A new book of poetry from Red Mountain is Wing. Other recent books areThe Turtle’s Beating Heart: One Family’s Story of Lenape Survival (a memoir, U. of Nebraska Press); A Casino Bestiary (Spartan Press); and Jackalope, fiction (Red Mountain). She founded the Creative Writing Program at Haskell Indian Nations University, where she taught and was an administrator. Low is past board president of the Associated Writers and Writing Programs. She has won 3 Kansas Notable Book Awards and recognition from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Sequoyah National Research Center, Poetry Society of America, The Circle -Best Native American Books, Roberts Foundation, Lichtor Awards, and the Kansas Arts Commission. Low has an MFA from Wichita St. U. and Ph.D. from Kansas U. Her literary blog is http://deniselow.blogspot.com.
6 thoughts on “White Patsy: Raised Racist by Ronda Miller”
Ronda Great poem. Way to go. Get me in touch with the Coop if possible. Perry.
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Perry and Sally, thanks so much for reading it and responding.
Let me know if you still have issues finding the means to submit a poem of your own.
A deep and moving poem showing how the light gets into our lives through the cracks [metaphor courtesy of Leonard Cohen]. I think this is a fine poem.
Thanks so much, Gretchen.
I’ve really appreciated your support these past few weeks.