Posts tagged "race/ethnicity"
Regaining My Blackness

Regaining My Blackness

I didn’t know I was black until I was 9 years old, when my father called the beggar at the stoplight a nigger. The beggar, a teenage boy in torn clothes, had poked his hand through the driver-side window, palm up—Spare some change, no, sir—daggering my father’s personal space. My father kissed his teeth and...
How We See One Another: Our Guest Editors Castro and Sukrungruang in Conversation

How We See One Another: Our Guest Editors Castro and Sukrungruang in Conversation

Guest editors Joy Castro and Ira Sukrungruang discuss what they hoped for and what they learned in assembling our Special Issue on Race, Racism and Racialization. __ Joy Castro:  Editing this issue with you has been a fascinating process, Ira, and I’m really glad to have gotten the chance to read these essays.  Can you...
Mother’s Tongue

Mother’s Tongue

As the teenager stepped through the first set of automatic doors at Target, I was entering from the parking lot. For a few seconds we stood in the foyer area between the sets of double doors. “Aren’t you? Aren’t you?” he asked, his lips quivering with joyful anticipation. In the mid 1990s, the sight of...
Milk for Free

Milk for Free

Item: “Did anybody touch you down there?” Down there, I understood, referred to the mystery below my waist, between my legs. A place where my mother  said no one should ever, ever touch me. My mother asks me this question, nightly, as she undresses me for my bath, until I learn to bathe myself. What...
Elegy with Ghosts, a Burning City and Many Special Effects

Elegy with Ghosts, a Burning City and Many Special Effects

In the filming of The Crow, the only son of Bruce Lee is shot and killed while making a movie about a man who gets shot and killed. Detroit is on fire. It’s Devil’s Night. Sirens everywhere. In the movie version of this essay, he’s resurrected and seeks revenge. In this way, he reminds us...
I Go Back to Berryman’s

I Go Back to Berryman’s

All of the streets in the trailer park are named for fruits or for dead presidents—Cherry, Lincoln, Peach, Garfield—and if you walk them and peer through windows with parted curtains, you will see love being made, hate being made, bodies being discovered, bodies being forgotten, smoking and drinking and swearing and Bible reading, you will...
Fast Food

Fast Food

The snow-white husky under the pew in the foyer is watching the humans at the butcher block table in the middle of the kitchen. The father in the suede suit coat has been back from his job twenty-two minutes and forty-eight seconds, and is eating eleven peanuts cracked open from their shells, three smears of...
Life in the Alley

Life in the Alley

I wasn’t old enough to go to school, and sitting on the front porch watching the cars go by on Fourth Avenue was the most of what I did, when I wasn’t looking down Zion’s Alley at the lives of black people, which I did from the upstairs window when I was sick at heart. (“Sick...
Cheekbones

Cheekbones

A beautiful woman once told me she thought she’d do well here, in America, since no one back there appreciated her strong, distinct features. This woman had deep-set eyes, high cheekbones, and a pronounced jaw; she looked like a younger version of my mother, right down to the over steamed dumpling of a nose. She...

Go

We’re sitting on our bikes and staring down the small alleyway made by fenced-in yards backed up to one another, and one of the kids in our groups says, “Go,” and like a pack of dogs we charge the space, pedaling hard and gnashing our teeth. Ahead the path narrows, and what started out as...

Wall Painting in Chicago Bar: “Richard J. Daley, Mayor”

It’s three blocks from where my Cantonese in-laws live since they moved out of Chinatown.  Bridgeport, so-called: no bridge, no port, but working class.  I’d thought the neighborhood tough—afraid to go out, lock your door at night.  But one couple on the corner stools, who could be Torres or Rodriguez, toasts me with pints of...

White Guy

I was in Walmart yesterday, swung around the end of one aisle where a five-foot-high cardboard-display edge stuck out about eight inches and, like an old fuck, caught it with my chest. Back up slightly, proceed on toward the Life Savers.  Halfway up the aisle (around the Life Savers) this black guy, twenty-five-ish, slightest smile...

Story Boy

This is sixth grade.  We’re in that dim little hallway outside the closet-sized room where they sell popsicles during recess.  The big boys are teasing me, but it’s friendly bullying that I don’t mind.  They’re asking me leading questions.  They just want to get me started. Okay, I’m eleven years old, very hormonal, both smart...

Becoming a Sanvicenteña: Five Stages

Stage 1: Fear The old highway to San Vicente is nothing more than a dirt road. At the height of the dry season the landscape is leached of color, the road pale as bone. We bump in and out of potholes, my American advisor filling the Peugeot with 400 years of Costa Rican history: the...

Closing Time

Pedro the dishwasher told me about how his sister died. We were drinking gin at a table by the window. He dried his hands off with a towel, ran his fingers through his black hair and described the way the hot water was still running when he found her hanging from a cord in the...

Somebody Else’s Genocide

After my reading in Atlanta, Georgia, a blond woman asked me, in German-accented English, if my books were translated and published in Germany. “Ja,” I said. I studied German for two years in high school and one semester in college, but I remembered only a few words—abgehetzt, schoner, arschloch—and only one phrase: Ich habe sieben...

A Bear in Tel Aviv

I saw the bear on a spring night in 2004 while walking with some students in Tel Aviv. We were on our way to a restaurant to meet the group that had accompanied the American writer who that afternoon had talked endlessly about basketball to the seminar. I didn’t know this part of the city...

Cairo Tunnel

I nudge through the turnstile, putting the stiff yellow ticket in my pocket and crossing a footbridge to the other side of the tracks, where I head toward the cluster of women on the platform. It’s rush hour. Morning salutations compete with beehive intensity. I scoot forward and back. Soon, the Metro barrels up, and...