Keepin' It Real,  Writing

What are You?

Growing up mixed race in America can be hard, especially when it comes to understanding what it means to be made up of a mix of different and often conflicting identities. In this beautiful poem, Priya Mosher discusses her experience being both African American and Asian.

 

What Are You?

“But really, what are you?”

they ask after I say I’m American

a nervous smile crawling across their lips like spiders

as they fiddle uncomfortably with the calluses on their fingers

afraid to offend, to let their tongue slip out the wrong words, wrong terms, wrong wrong wrong is anything ever right?

 

What are you?

As if I’m some undefined “it”, I believe you mean my ethnicity my

race

if I dare mention that four letter word dripping heavy like honey

with guilt and prejudice and privilege and tears and blood and clear sweat that has the freedom

of being colorless.

 

What are you?

I am a masterpiece of mixed melanin.

My skin is a watercolor

painted by my ancestors

each with different colored paint palettes

but all with the same intention

To paint a beautiful piece of art.

But in some minds, black ink on a crisp sheet of white paper won’t bleed pretty.

 

What are you?

half Asian half Black

has become a phrase said more than my own name

a phrase that seems to have to pass my lips

every time I meet a new face

a phrase that seems to hold my whole identity, my whole being

my whole worth.

 

What are you?

half Asian half Black

but when you’re a watercolor of watered down pigment

no one color can be seen clearly.

Not Asian enough, not Black enough

I just want to be enough.

So I keep wondering

when will half Asian half Black

ever really equal a whole?

 

What are you?

I am my short eyelashes, extending like tiny butterflies from my dark brown eyes

never being able to reach my sparse eyebrows.

I am my thick hair

a mane with a mind of its own

full of endless fat strands of curly black wire coated in coconut oil.

I am my pillowy pursed lips

and my round button nose.

I am my warm toffee skin

soft with traces of warm embraces and eucalyptus lotion.

I am all that you see but

I am also so much more of what is invisible to your eyes

so much more of me is hidden under caramel skin

and if you look without your goggles of predefined stereotypes

without trying to force me into a category with requirements that I won’t fulfill

maybe then you will find out truly

what I am.

Hello! My name is Tyler Newman and I'm a magical creature.

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