You Are My Mirror | Sojourners

You Are My Mirror

This is a story about one of the newest forms of communication -- social media -- and one of the oldest -- poetry, and how the two joined forces for social change.

On April 20, 2010, nine students chained themselves to the Arizona state Capitol building to protest Arizona's new anti-immigrant legislation, SB 1070. Their slogan: "We are chained to the Capitol just like our community is chained by this legislation." While others chanted and gave speeches, the nine students sat silently and with dignity as police officers cut the chains and arrested them. Of course their protest was posted on YouTube, and when a friend sent the link to a prize-winning poet and professor at the University of California-Davis, Francisco X. Alarcón, Alarcón responded as poets have for millennia when witnessing acts of courage in the face of oppression: He wrote a poem.

Alarcón posted "For the Capitol Nine" to his Facebook page, addressing the young people directly: "you ... / chain yourselves / to the doors / of the State Capitol / so that terror / will not leak out / to our streets ... / your courage / can’t be taken / away from us / and put in jail / you are nine / young warriors / like nine sky stars." So many "friends" and "friends of friends" responded to the poem that Alarcón decided to create a Facebook group and invite other poets to post poems on the subject.

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