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Freethought Today · August 2017

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

FFRF Students of Color Essay Contest Fourth Place: In whom do I trust? By Lizeth Ortega-Luna

FFRF awarded Lizeth $750.

By Lizeth Ortega-Luna

It's 8 a.m. and I get up
and recite a pledge only to erupt
when you stand up
and say, "In God We Trust"
when we all sit in silence and know that in all must
you choose Him to find refuge in justifying
the injustice
the malpractice
that attacks us

when I say
that God will not help us today
in fighting the war against terror and corruption
you say it's an abruption
of me losing faith

how can I have something I never had?
you say, "it could be worse, it's not that bad"
when I know there are children dying,
farmers' fields are drying,
families being torn apart are crying,
friends mourning the death of the migrant — none of it is expected

you neglect it
and say, "God had a reason"
yet you expect me to believe in the meaning
when I know even you don't trust yourself

maybe it all works like a carousel —
going around
and around
and around
until your head hurts —
and you are left to pray and believe that "it could all be worse"

when I look at the news on TV
and see those plea
for justice while they march because they deserve to live
in a world with rights, it's as if we are in Berlin —
having a wall separate humanity
from our sanity

you still tell me to pray because God will listen
and when I tell you that you have that
I don't have privilege to wait for something to happen
because of the color of my skin, I have to be the captain
of my life seeking into the ocean
for a solution,
you get upset!

I should be the one with no rest
when I am told that my sister may never recover from her condition
remember that my dad could have gone missing
if that man with the fair skin would have pulled the trigger
when I have gone days without dinner
have been homeless
and hopeless
all a mess
with nothing but despair,
I shout at you, at him, at everyone, "it's not fair!"

I then ask, "Why me? What have I done?" and you tell me, "Your answer will come"
and yet, you expect me to believe when I have been let down
when I know there are others that live as if they have a crown
only to feed
their greed
off of us who work with our sweat, blood, and tears

if there's something I have learned these past eighteen years is that in Myself I trust.

Lizeth, 18, is from Las Vegas, where she volunteers her time by teaching children English, Spanish and math. Lizeth, an AP scholar, served as the 2016 American Legion Auxiliary Nevada Girls State as a deputy mayor, senator and Girls Nation runner-up. She enjoys dogs, gardening and calligraphy. She aspires to be a leader through understanding societies and cultures and ultimately would like to be a United States ambassador to the United Nations.