Manu Gunnala // LAND OF THE FREE

I. Be yourself, they’ll tell you as you wander in

Eyes bright, heart unguarded

Your possibilities are infinite, this is the

Land of the Free


II. Be yourself

Stop speaking like that

You’re in America now


III. Be yourself

Put those Legos away

Here’s a Barbie doll, isn’t it



V. Be yourself

Cross your legs, lower your voice, put your

chin down

You’re so tall for a girl


VI. Be yourself

Don’t be silly

You can’t be a writer, artist, astronaut

Those jobs aren’t for



VIII. Be yourself

Here’s a page-long reading

On the history of your people

Write an essay about how

Britain saved your country


X. Be yourself

Don’t mark your race as Asian on that test or

You’ll need to score

Three hundred points higher


XI. Be yourself

Of course you aced the test, you damned



XII. Be yourself, they’ll tell you as you walk out

Masked and shackled

this is the

Land of the Free.