Thursday, March 25, 2010

cherokee summer skin

i am of an indistinguishable race.
i don't know what i am and often
don't know what i should be.
am i white? do i look it?
i have large, almond eyes and
flat eyelids. i have black, shiny
hair and large breasts that i hide
in an otherwise uncurvy figure.
am i hispanic? only according to
certain forms.
i don't look like a white girl.
it is most common for people
to assume i am half asian and
half mexican.
of which i am niether.
people have guessed romanian,
japanese, french, brazilian,
you name it someone has
labeled me as it and rarely do
they guess what i really am.
who i really am.

i am irish.
my irish grandmother
jean aloa o'scanlon taught
me how to boil cabbage and brew
spicy mustard for saint patrick.
she taught me how to fold my
hands in prayer like a good
catholic girl.

i am spanish.
my great-grandmother bonita
of spain, a black-haired, pale faced
beauty. a tender nurse in a white
dress. her pictures say i have her
eyes and her smile and i know
our laughs sound the same.

i am cherokee.
my cousin bobby has hair to his
chest, wrinkled dark skin and shows
me the smooth and sharp edges of
arrowheads he digs up from the earth.
his arms prove of his labor in the sun.

i am them and they are me and give me
dark, shiny hair and asian-like eyes
and fair skin that turns to copper in july.

i am proud to be these things and yet
why can't anyone see them?

i am proud to be these things and yet
why do i always seem to desire to
be "more white?"

why do i want to have light brown hair
and deeper set hazel eyes? why do i
want a thinner waist, a chiseled face
and sunken in cheeks? a long neck?

all the thing i scrutinize my body for
are ways for me to look more white.
they are ways to strip myself of my
heritage and my being, my identity.

my identity which i let people take
away from me. my identity which
i cover up in hair dye and eyeliner
and eyelash curlers and face
contouring bronzer.

but when i see pictures of my mother
and grandmothers, i smile, showing my
big cherry tomato cheeks. i proudly show
off my very spanish eyes that are so unique
no other white girl has them. i radiate my
cherokee summer skin. i let my dark dark
hair blow in the wind and decide that being
mislabeled is not a crime, i am a mystery.
i will enjoy the false guesses and feel kindred
to my japanese sisters. i will only dye my hair
because it feels summery, i will curl my eyelashes
just to be flirty. i will fold my hands in prayer,
just like my grandmother taught me. i will
remember my own and embrace everyone else
and know that pretty comes in more colors than
white.

3 comments:

Stephanie said...

This is beautiful. And so are you :)

Tobin said...

you are my japanese sister :)

Roger said...

Gee ....... i wonder where she gets this........