Thursday, February 28, 2008
From Air Jordans and a swimming pool
I am from suburban house next to Alamo Canal,
Cattails and crawdads and many lost balls
I am from homemade wood furniture,
Functional masterpieces - yes, works of art - no
I’m from “Happy New Year” hugs and way too much food,
From Tadashi that I don’t remember and Bob that I never met
I’m from good looks and great brains,
From varsity athletes and humble servants
From fat jokes at school and “baka tare” at home
I’m from a liberal activist and a passive conservative;
An AWOL nurse and dedicated administrator
I’m from the Land of 10,000 Lakes and the Land of the Rising Sun,
From vine ripened tomatoes canned in our kitchen, and canned tuna fish
From a lost identity in Japan and a determined swim to Mexico;
His journey to the US could be a movie
I’m from the family crest that is proudly displayed on hats, shirts, walls, and coffee mugs
I am the first born son of the first born son of the first born son.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
‘I am not a Euro-American,’ one writer protests. ‘Why do you insist on calling yourself African American?’ objects a caller to a CNN broadcast. ‘Why can’t we all just be American?’
. . . Frankly, I think most African Americans, if given a chance, would have chosen to be ‘just Americans’ ever since the first of us was brought here to Jamestown colony in 1619, a year before the Mayflower landed. But that choice has never been left up to us.
Their real message: ‘Racial identity serves no purpose for me, and I reject whatever purpose it serves for you!’ Their will to color blindness sounds to my black ears uncomfortably like a desire to render black folks invisible.
--Clarence Page in Showing My Color: Impolite Essays on Race and Identity
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Friday, February 15, 2008
Terraces in the hills that cut through the fog line.
I Grew Up With
Cutthroat Monopoly at Christmas.
Those who are long lived, with strong teeth but bad knees.
“Always shoot for an A” but found that “Maui No Ka Oi”.
My Pieces Came From
An engineer, a teacher, a diplomat, a winemaker, and a champion of women’s rights.
I Am Always So Confused
Because I can’t “Check only one box for your ethnicity.”
Because the organization of our family heirlooms follows our personalities – very diverse but all over the place.
Because they didn’t think that I was fluent in English, even though it was all I spoke.
I am from all over, but for today, I’m from
Thursday, February 7, 2008
From De Cecco and Patsy Cline.
I am from celebratory, exuberant, warm, pudgy hugs.
I am from the oak grassland, the honeysuckle, Nonna's front yard walnut tree -
Thick bark and strong low branches for brave girl's scrambling feet.
I am from long debates and longer dinners,
From Julie, young at heart, and Anna, the wise.
I am from drawing together and running away,
From 'Your best is all we ask' and 'We know you can do better.'
I am from First Communion and 'Peace Be With You' weekly, then
just the Holy Days, and now only for the dead.
I am from Concord and Caserta, beer bread and mortadella.
I am from the seed smuggler who left home for her American soldier,
and from the Oakies we don't talk about for shame.
The photos are legion in mass tupperware graves,
The living room frames tell the stories of strangers.
I am the oldest cousin, the 'Number One Grandchild,' the first-born of the first-born.
I am from somewhere in the middle, I haven't met them all. I don't even know all their names.
I am second generation, I am n(x) generation.
On the forms I check Caucasian.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Racial practices that reproduce racial division in contemporary America (1) are increasingly covert; (2) are embedded in normal operations of institutions; (3) avoid direct racial terminology; and (4) are invisible to most whites (pg 9)
The median net worth of blacks is just 8% that of whites. (pg 13)
Because “race” is a socially constructed, it is contested and redefined... Light-skinned immigrants, originally classified as distinct racial groups, came over time and through challenge to be reclassified as white, even while maintaining some ethnic distinctives. Among dark-skinned immigrants from Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean, the struggles to avoid being labeled “black”. We witness this process on a micro level. An influx of Somalians and
other east African immigrants into the city in whith I [Emerson] live provides occasion for contact, and I see and hear their struggle to avoid categorization as African American. On one occasion, a Somalian—far darker-skinned than the vast majority of African Americans—requested a ride from my friend, saying three times, “I am not black.” The Somalian’s assumption—that he would not get a ride if he was defined as black—was learned quickly. (pg14-15)
I am from the windows
From hammers and cookies
I am from the artists place
Working, weeding, and swim caps
I am from the oak tree
Dropping it's leaves and acorns and the fort that we play in
I'm from gatherings and issues not talked about
From Richard and Marcy
From Pauline and Percy
I'm from silence about that which hurts
And large tables with extra seats filled with different nationalities of family
I'm from "never quit"
And "watch out for those who can't do for themselves"
I'm from peace on earth
And can't we all just get along
I'm from Oakland and Iowa, Carmel and Hong Kong
Blond brownies and meat and potatoes
From driving to California with extra tires on the roof
From race sit-ins at high school
From a cat-brother named Sam
From Circle Hill Drive, great grandmother's piano, stocks and bonds and "Days of our Lives"
I am from God, made new with injuries and talents