We Are Not Responsible Analysis
The world is constantly becoming an increasingly more dangerous place, and in this day and age, everything has a warning label. Whether it’s a hairdryer, a computer keyboard, or even a simple toy, all manufactured products and structures around us have a label stuck on the side to protect us. It seems as if at least one person has managed to hurt themselves with every product and attraction in the world. The poem “We Are Not Responsible” by Harryette Muller uses a familiar format, repetition, and underlying meanings to poke fun at the rules and norms of the society every one of us strive to achieve in. The most visually noticeable part of this poem is the format. It isn’t written in familiar stanzas with any kind of meter or complex
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If the victim is given any rights at all, they can be taken away for not remaining completely calm. Disallowing any sort of protest or outspoken actions keeps the population from changing the system. Past that point, the individuals have no rights, and the government doesn’t really care what happens to the victims in the end, as long as they are silenced and don’t cause any further trouble. After looking under the surface of a simple disclaimer, it becomes clear this poem is truly showing the government’s faults. Lacking respect for immigrants, people of color, and anyone different than their own, they don’t have any preference or protection for those they feel need to be dealt with. At this point with the government, the only way to protect one’s self is to be quiet, not carry a wallet, stay calm, speak English, not fit the profile, and definitely not wear gang colors. This disrespect eliminates all possibility of immigration, change, and individuality, and there’s nothing the people can do to fix it due to the lack of rights. This country is supposed to be a democratic republic, but instead is looking more communist, with complete control over the people. The real question provoked by this poem is, how do we fix it?
Mullen, Harryette. “We Are Not Responsible.” Sleeping With the Dictionary. Berkeley: U of California