Is this racism?

Does this qualify

my statements, my actions, my desire for change

when I have not faced the darkest depths of injustice 

or really ever looked it in the eye


When my most intimate encounter with such

might merely be the lies of my own internalized fear

of my mom speaking in front of my friends

and in turn

closing the lid of my lunchbox between 



When even the truths of my experiences feel less than valid

in all the moments second-guessed 

between the microaggressions and ignorant questions and the occasional slur

or jokes and slit-eye drawings that, hey, I absorbed without complaint

and after years, mastered the art

of turning my heritage into comic relief anyway


And yet it lingers

A conscious shame for looking like myself

one that hurts and that haunts

but never enough for me to speak forth

that I cannot punctuate nor hyperlink nor write into prose

that I can only find hidden 

in its ambiguity

perpetually in ambiguity


And then I think 

about Vincent Chin

and Fong Lee

and Cau Tran

all who did not live to see 30 

all who were brutally killed

with a baseball bat, by another white man, because of a ten-inch vegetable peeler

by an ebens and an andersen and a marshall not serving a day 

but only receiving a medal of valor


And I think

these are not mutually exclusive

they are not at all

and if we quietly teach ourselves to compare and repress

instead of to point to the beast underlying

where the common denominator is

an insatiable system that feeds on itself

then who is that serving


And when I mutter to myself 

Is this racism? It can’t be

am I only conflating it with my family’s simply being poor

or my unbelonging for a reason attributed otherwise

and am I neglecting the shield

of my father’s masters degree


We fall into that trap

and keep our mouths shut

and get lost in the second-guessing

failing to connect the dots 

towards a liberation that coincides

failing when, right now, our grandparents

cannot make it home alive


I wonder if our encounters brushed aside 

and history untold or forgotten

has turned into a gaping hole 

of invisibility and silence that

only please the white man



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