Friday, May 18, 2007

I am tired of being a white woman.

I am tired of being a white woman,
and having to apologize
for the English I learned
to write in big looping letters
on rough brown paper, for fluency
as natural as dancing,
for semicolons, conjugations,
and the dizzying vocabulary
I needed for the SAT.

I am tired of being a white woman,
and having to tell the story
of my great-grandfather
arriving at Ellis Island,
shipped straight from Terceira,
where Baptista troubles
no tongues, not like this valley,
where everyone wants to know
if I'm from Oaxaca or Quintana Roo.

I am tired of being a white woman,
and having to mark boxes
that lie, that want to paint
my olive arms and dark eyes
a transparent, raceless nothing,
that mark me oppressor, fiend,
so that admissions committees
can write me off as someone
who cannot bring diversity.

8 comments:

Brian said...

i enjoyed this poem... have you ever read about the research of Claude Steele?

Crafty Green Poet said...

this is excellent, beautifully written, thought provoking, moving.

Tinamtl said...

I read your poem 3 times over. It stirred something in me - being white as milk and blond with green eyes - having daughters olived skinned and dark eyes and dark hair.

gautami tripathy said...

Very well written. I read it aloud.

Abzdragon said...

Wow... just freakin wow. I loved it. I can totally relate. My Mom's whole family is Italian through and through and I am 50%, just "white".

...deb said...

Brilliant work. Dives and soars, takes me to a place I didn't expect to see.

SquareTraveler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SquareTraveler said...

This is really excellent. I'm white and have been mistaken for Italian and Latino, and I am always flattered. There's no glory or supremacy in whiteness.

Come to think of it, I've been mistaken for a woman, too. I enjoy that less.