By Savannah Powell
12th grade, Herriman High School, UT

With lines from “‘Look After My Babies’: in Ethiopia, a Tigray Families Quest” by Cara Anna and Nariman El-Mofty

                                                                                             When blood of Tigrayan red became a crime,
                                                                                                                  We learned to paint our faces
                                                                                         Our children are re-taught to introduce themselves
                                                                                                                   Characters playing a part
                                                                                             “We are Amhara, Wolkait, we are not illegal”
                                                                                                                              We whisper lies
                                                                                                                   Through shallow breaths
                                                                                                               Hoping to open doors to safety

                                                                                                 You call me friend and praise “our people”
                                                                                                                    If you knew I was Tigray,
                                                                                                                     You would not help me
                                                                                                   Why does ethnicity make me less human

                                                                                                         Children leave their mothers womb, 
                                                                                                        refugees in bouncing pink bassinets 
                                                                                             fighting forces who try to erase their existence

                                                                                             Yesterday our people traded sugar and laughs
                                                                                                    Around fires warmed by our brotherhood
                                                                                                                Watched each others children
                                                                                                             A family we stitched ourselves
                                                                                                                    Now you spit in my face
                                                                                                               Blinded by unhinged hatred
                                                                                                                              For difference
                                                                                                                          I beg you, tell me
                                                                                                                             What changed?

Savannah (Vanny) Powell is a recent graduate from Herriman High School in Herriman, UT. She’s a lover of literature and has been writing poetry all throughout high school. Vanny believes in telling the stories of people from every wake of life, and is extremely grateful for the opportunity to share these underreported issues through poetry.

Read more winning entries from the 2021 Fighting Words Poetry Contest.