Dear Bakersfield,
Don’t be a Coeur d’Alene,

revving up your truck engines
and hurling racial epithets.

Don’t terrorize young athletes
reveling in their dream.

Yes, I know you
are a much larger city

in a progressive state,
but what a state

we’ll be in
if the racist legacy
of Oildale continues,

if a BC professor defends
a white supremacist group’s
vandalism on the campus,

if, like we were in ‘73, young Black
families are still being blocked from
housing in certain neighborhoods

What will you do, Bakersfield?
I implore you to ponder

how you will promote
harmony over discord

peace over conflict
consensus over strife.

Our hometown kids
just want to grow up.


Annis Cassells is a poet, writer, and teacher whose work has appeared in print and online journals. Many of her poems got their start as she traversed the USA on her trusty Candy Apple Red motorcycle. In 2023, she published her second full-length poetry collection, What the Country Wrought.