James O. Clifford, Sr.

James O. Clifford, Sr.

James O. Clifford, Sr. spent 40 years in journalism, a span split between United Press International and the Associated Press. He was the broadcast editor at the AP’s San Francisco bureau when he retired in 2000. His honors include the San Francisco Press Club feature writing award and UPI’s Excellence in Broadcasting award. He is the author of Philip’s Code: No News is Good News – to a Killer, a murder novel built around the changes in news reporting he witnessed during his career. Since retiring, his byline has appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal, where his “Rear View Mirror” history column runs twice a month, Climate Magazine, The Journal of Local History and La Peninsula magazine. He is a graduate of San Francisco State University, where he met his wife, Peggy. The two were married in 1962 and live in Redwood City. They have seven children.

Poem on Belonging


Don’t call me “Anglo.”
I won’t hear you.
You’ll be white noise.

I’m the Irishman, the paddy who played the “Irish banjo.”
Built railroads, dams, bridges.
Fought your wars.
Willing to die so we could apply.

I’m the Italian.
The “Luigi” you made fun of. 
The “wops” hanged in New Orleans.
I built Stanford block by sandstone block.
And all you thought I brought was pizza.

I’m French.
Detroit, St. Louis, Louisiana.
We want our land back.
The border crossed us.

Pollack, Bohunk and Jew.
We spoke Polish and Yiddish
But called English the mother tongue.
We learned from her.
And moved up rung by rung.

We’ve all vanished into the great pot.
Not to be seen again.
Don’t ask, don’t tell.
Mixed and shaken until white – white without privilege
That’s all right.
Just don’t call us WASP or Anglo
Call us American.

Copyright © 2022 by James O. Clifford, Sr. Used with permission of the author.

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