Who beat the brown upon my skin?
Who cleft my teeth and carved my grin?
Who pressed my eyes into my face?
Who stole from me each form of grace?
Who scored and cut my ugly jaw?
Who strung my voice with its caw?
Who struck my scalp with wilting hair?
Who smote me dark and never fair?
Then tell me not, for I am flawed
That “Ye were knit by hands of God.”
What is the White Man’s burden?
Can I find it in my fields?
Does he stir it with his bourbon?
Is it the rod he wields?
And all the White Man’s children,
These heirs to his estate
Writhe in laps of luxury
Unbridled by its weight.
Ever suckling at the bosom
Of privilege and power
The world is their inheritance,
Theirs is the chosen hour.
And we who toil beneath them
Dealt the brown man’s hand
Must ever labour thrice as hard if
As equals we dare stand.
– S.S. Bartlett