This is not new

This is not new! ring the cries
Of millions of abused, exploited,
Stolen and murdered children
Down the long dank corridors
Of our nation’s history.

This is not new!
Weep the Native American children
Kidnapped by missionaries to be “civilized,”
Kidnapped by ranchers and farmers and miners
For forced labor,
Kidnapped by government
To have their language and culture
Educated and beaten out of them.

This is not new!
Wail the African children
Stolen first from their homelands,
Enslaved along with their parents,
Then sold at the whim of the masters,
Never to be reunited with their families.

This is not new!
Sob the children of the industrial age poor
Forced to work in dangerous factories
Sixteen hours a day,
To live in wretched,
Vermin-infested tenements,
Their miserable lives shortened
By exhaustion and disease and disaster.

This is not new!
Testify the children of Japanese heritage
Interned in WWII.

This is not new!
Moan today’s homeless children,
Living in the backs of cars,
In temporary shelters and transient motels,
The kids of color targeted by cops,
All watching their American dreams
Dissolve in a toxic miasma
Of hunger and fear and despair.

This is not new!
The millions of dead and buried children
Who failed to matter enough
Call out across the mangled years
To the little ones now
Being ripped from their families at the border
And thrown into cages
For the unspeakable crime
Of having parents who seek a better life.
This is not new! they shout,
This is what they’ve always done!

Buff Whitman-Bradley’s newest book is And What Will We Sing? a collection of protest and social justice poems spanning the last 25 years. He podcasts at and lives with his wife, Cynthia, in northern California. Read other articles by Buff.