The unexplainable pride I felt
Every time
I saw a slant eyed-black haired girl
In my favorite cartoons and movies
Now breaks my heart
Every time
I think of how I “passed as white”
Because I was not black
My skin was fair
Well, I avoided the sun
Every time
We’d go outside and exchange lighters in the school parking lot
Because “Asians don’t smoke”
So I did
Every time.

 

Every time
My crush called me a banana
I’d nod my head in agreement because
Yellowness only protected
The sweet whiteness I had to offer so
Every time
I let him peel my slippery flesh
To consume the ripe fruit of my true nature
And there, exposed, I longed
For the warmth of my culture
Every time.

 

I bleached my hair and
Every time
My parents would scold me for denying
The roots of my heritage
Because I bleached that too
Every time
Black grew in to remind everyone that
Whiteness
Was something I had to work for.

 

School curriculums taught me about racism
But in black and white
Where I found my differences
Didn’t go unnoticed, just
Every time
My race came up it was the
Chinese Head Tax this and
The Korean War that
Every time
I felt relief in knowing that my classmates wouldn’t know
The foods I ate or
The language I spoke
Every time
I went home.

 

Every time
I hear about race I wonder why
Yellow
Doesn’t even have a place
Because I know that
Every time
I step out into this multicultural land
And see how I am different
But unsure of exactly how
I know that
Every time
They miss me
Hiding between the black and white text
Of my upbringing.

Poetry: Henna Choi
Illustration: Elizabeth Matus

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