Following is a collaborative poem comprised of lines by students, faculty, and staff at Penn State Altoona. Conceptualized and arranged by Erin Murphy, poet and professor of English, "In My America" premiered in April 2021 during National Poetry Month. The project is sponsored by Hard Freight student literary magazine and ¡AHA! (Arts and Humanities in Action), an initiative of the Division of Arts and Humanities devoted to encouraging connections between the classroom and cultural experiences.
The video production was created by Naomi Baker, assistant teaching professor of theatre and integrative arts. The live performance was choreographed by KT Huckabee, professor of integrative arts and dance, and performed by members of Allied Motion Dance Company and the Ivyside Dance Ensemble.
In My America
In my America, everyone's perspective flashes out like a cardinal's red feathers against the snow.
In my America, snow-covered mountains glisten.
In my America, fluffy white flakes fall as if the world is their snow globe until morning, when the light, sparkling powder becomes a dark, dirty slosh.
In my America, warm colors melt away cold dirty-white snow of a bleak winter, giving way to hopeful smiles and a spring of listening.
In my America, purple crocuses pop up at night, their petals see-through.
In my America, the spring greening is like the earth shedding its heavy winter coat for a colorful and comfortable t-shirt...all the easier to dance in.
In my America, ocean waves glitter in the sunlight as the days brighten, banishing the dark shadows of the world.
In my America, trees, rocks, and moss are comforting.
In my America, simple beauty can be observed in the kindness of a stranger, the vibrant shades of a sunset, or the expressive gaze of a dog.
In my America, mountains rise above the lakes and the trees rise above the mountains like a grand cathedral of nature.
In my America, sun shines through my window, making everything feel lighter.
In my America, bright smiles and bright eyes bring beauty to life.
In my America, coursing rivers and the frosted peaks are admired by all races, ages, religions, and genders.
In my America, sunlight refracts on the river water caps like the flicker of a flame, fleeting and bright, and the sunset covers the valley in hues of pink and purple, bringing the hardworking day to a calm peace.
In my America.
In my America.
In my America.
In my America, kids can’t play freely outside.
In my America, polluted water pours from kitchen faucets.
In my America, drugs cause just as much harm as guns.
In my America, the souls of the 120,000 Japanese Americans interned during World War II have been relegated to a single sentence of a textbook on a dusty shelf.
In my America, it's easy to change your title from Ms. to Mrs., but changing from "he" to "she" is unthinkable.
In my America, justice knows two faces, and the color of the skin determines the guilt.
In my America, Asians are afraid.
In my America, the expectation of black women is strength, even when handling disrespect.
In my America, debates break out at the dinner table over the validity of my rights.
In my America, we still don't have equal pay.
In my America, children are kept in cages while we support the people who put them there.
In my America, we're all on social media but never social in person.
In my America, healthcare is a debt sentence.
In my America, 5,500 indigenous women went missing in 2019.
In my America, prisoners should not be for profit.
In my America, immigrants should not be called aliens or illegal.
In my America, the warm of white-skinned children, small and fierce, tell my brother his skin color is a death sentence with no trial before this verdict.
In my America, the hate in our world forces others to change themselves to make those spewing hatred comfortable.
In my America, no one is really free, no matter what they tell you.
In my America, children are caught in the crossfire of political activism.
In my America, kids as young as 17 go into debt attempting to get an education.
In my America, I see the bystanders get hurt and those responsible face no repercussions.
In my America, we ask How are you? and expect the pain of truth to fracture the false answer I'm good, and you?
In my America, identifying with the LGBTQ+ community shouldn’t prevent me from buying a house, receiving healthcare, attending school, or getting a job.
In my America, the struggle to live up to the myths of our past comes at the cost of our future.
In my America, freedom and equality reign for those who seek it, but why do I feel like we’re not equal at all?
In my America, the streets are run down and filled with danger, the family we've left behind still swathed by it.
In my America racism, injustice, and the quickness to judge are the norm.
In my America, more than 164 black men and women were killed by police within the first 8 months of last year.
In my America, a full-time student holds a full-time job.
In my America, we are divided when we should be united.
In my America there is hate.
In my America, my eight-year-old daughter comes down the stairs shaking and crying and asks, Are all police killing Black people? Will they kill me?
In my America, my people are not free—oppressed people are not free.
In my America, the american dream is lower-cased.
In my America, there’s a need for change that will take years when we only have days.
In my America.
In my America.
In my America.
In my America, there is silky new skin emerging from a surgical wound.
In my America, we dream again, waking up humming What if?, not gasping Why?
In my America, we remember our daunting history instead of shying away from the history we share.
In my America, trans women are women, trans men are men, and no one cares which bathroom you use.
In my America, treaties signed are treaties kept, even if that means stolen land is given back.
In my America, the dead visit us in dusky dreams and reverse the polarities of grief.
In my America, people listen when you talk to them—their eyes aren't on a screen.
In My America, random acts of kindness endlessly flow like spring snowmelt racing down steep mountain streams.
In my America, children learn to read and grown-ups read to learn.
In my America, amber fields of grain feed all who are hungry.
In my America, our forests are great and our water clear.
In my America, our conversations create connections, and those bonds are binding and blessed.
In my America, we are not an empire, but an example to the world.
In my America, our advocacy and protest will not be performative, but revolutionary.
In my America, the Dream exists outside of the vacant, consumerist void plastered across billboards and digital screens.
In my America, we are quarantined during our birthdays, and our presents are cereal and juice boxes from our pantry wrapped in free coupon circulars.
In my America, a Black man follows the wings of a Kentucky warbler into a tree and speaks the bird's name, imitates his song, without fear others will do him harm.
In my America, our military veterans receive the attention and care they honorably deserve.
In my America, I appreciate and thank those who have fought for freedom.
In my America, we teach a more inclusive history.
In my America, men do not dictate what women can and cannot do with their bodies.
In my America, there are no sad or hopeless student faces—there are conversations to bring a sense of peace.
In my America, sentences are peppered with cardamom, saffron, oregano, harissa, and sesame.
In my America, everyone is treated fairly and with respect.
In my America, we learn we are stronger together than we are apart, and we work to bring our country back together as one.
In my America, every person should have the same health care regardless of wealth, race, color, age, or gender.
In my America, the silence of the morning isn't heavy with the weight of loneliness but instead charged by the anticipation of voices and moments soon to come.
In my America, there is more acceptance and respect for all the cultures that are searching for the “American dream.”
In my America, there is genuine kindness and happiness behind every have a good day! and thank you spoken.
In my America, the content of one's character speaks loudest.
In my America, people help neighbors and hard work pays off.
In my America, we are all a giant family, no matter the size of the division between us.
In my America, I hope for a land that is more full of beauty, more full of kindness, and more full of love.
In my America, we don’t just accept or tolerate—we seek to coexist.
In my America, we are fearless to speak what we believe and stand by our Constitutional rights.
In my America, we see each other not as enemies but as fellow Americans and as people.
In my America, there is more kindness, gentleness, a helping hand, and kind words.
In my America, corruption does not exist.
In my America, individuals are stones that have been ignored but are becoming the cornerstone of our nation once more.
In my America, this country is for all of us.
In my America, the sun shines on a land that welcomes people from every speck of the world.
In my America, truth, transparency, fairness, and inclusive collaboration triumph over lies, deception, exclusion, and unearned privilege.
In my America, there is innovation brimming at the surface, waiting for the final drop of unity.
In my America, everyone's hands are shining in the same brilliant color when they are extended to help someone.
In my America, those who are the most unique and different are those who are the most special.
In my America, we respect diverse opinions.
In my America, the compassion, empathy, and care we extend to others becomes a new spoken language.
In my America, there is truly a bipartisan democracy.
In my America, everyone is treated as equal and those in need are given the help they require.
In my America, the feel of a moving car combined with the music playing through its speakers provides an escape from the everyday stress of a college student.
In my America, all people love, all people care, all people matter.
In my America, there is respect for people with different cultures that are trying to live the American dream, the free country.
In my America, we push back against hate so the next generation can learn from our shame. If hate persists only we are to blame.
In my America, "=" is sacred.
In my America, diversity is cherished.
In my America, we are united, we have empathy, and we are hopeful.
In my America, everyone is open to listening.
In my America, the environment is emerging victorious after years of neglect and defeat by arrogance, ignorance, and greed.
In my America, I am proud of who I am and what I stand for.
In my America, there is no judgment based on one’s physical appearance.
In my America, there is no more violence or pain.
In my America, we learn from our mistakes.
In my America, red blood that flows and nourishes the body and soul of all peoples, replenishes the earth and its life forms, whispers the cries of suffering and sings the praises of love.
In my America, Creation continues beyond six days and we do not rest until all life flourishes.
In my America, we are more than the free, the white gated fence, a promise for thee, one body, one sense.
In my America, we are the People, the People are We.
In my America, we’d rather understand than overthrow.
In my America.
In my America.
In my America.
In my America, kindness is the new reality show.