Posts tagged "race/ethnicity"
White Memory & The Psychic Sherpa

White Memory & The Psychic Sherpa

Oftentimes, in an alcoholic or abusive family, there is one member who first acknowledges the problem, who remembers the painful and harmful acts of the past and the damage caused by those actions, who chooses to break the zones of silence the family enforces about their past, who points to the craziness and denial at...
Jewel

Jewel

I. Tasha’s father sits in his recliner watching TV. Wonder Woman is his favorite, or at least, he pays special attention when actress Lynda Carter is on the screen whooping Nazi’s asses. Outfitted in star-studded panties and a gold foil bra, Lynda Carter is impossibly spangled compared to the women on our street. I’m scanning...
Work Lessons

Work Lessons

There’s a posture your body learns when you’re always on ladders. Your thighs stay clenched, tailbone forward, hips up-thrust to keep you on balance. You keep your feet wide, quads pressed against the rung they’re closest to, arms steady overhead, brush in hand. You learn micro-seasons invisible to most: the April weeks of spiked black...
My Mother Calls Me

My Mother Calls Me

I pick up my cell phone when I see it’s my mom. MeeSHYAH I can tell by the way she says my name, something is wrong. My name, unpronounceable for her, the vowels moonbouncing on her tongue until they lose balance and fall over. And the consonant sound that would make her English stand upright:...
Friday Night Mariachis

Friday Night Mariachis

The Guadalajara restaurant’s sidewalk marquee boasts Live Mariachis! but the band is only two older Mexican men toting battered guitars and strolling between tables, taking requests. Their black slacks are shiny from wear; one of the men is missing a few teeth. As they approach, my two children urge me to request a song. Whether...
The Closet of Many Heads

The Closet of Many Heads

My father’s mother has worn the wigs for as long as he can remember, and even my father admits he’s only seen her without one once. She lines the wigs industriously on her closet’s only shelf, each atop its own Styrofoam head. Each ash-blonde pixie cut seems identical to its neighbor, sets of twins frozen...
Bole So Nihaal

Bole So Nihaal

Allah hu Akbar. God is (the) greatest. Bole so nihaal, sat sri akaal. Whoever utters the following, will be blessed with happiness—eternal is the holy lord. Bhakt janon Ke sankat, Pal bhar door karein, Om jai jagdish harey. Glory to the holy lord who removes all obstacles in the path of his devotees.  * My...
The Club from Nowhere

The Club from Nowhere

The oil sizzles, a spray of bubbles rippling across the pan, then the flour-coated chicken dropped in, first a thigh, then a leg, a breast, a wing, another leg, the hiss and sputter of crisping, edges ruffling, browning, the juices drawn in as a hand deftly turns and shifts the pieces in a hot pan...
Identity Theft (Side B)

Identity Theft (Side B)

Origin Story Smoke-thin memories penciled fast as you can while your mother breathes ghosts from the end of a line you can feel cannot touch the words on the paper reaching like seeds seeking like roots for who you are who she was and why you left your left ear goes numb to the sudden...
An Indian in Yoga Class: Finding Imbalance

An Indian in Yoga Class: Finding Imbalance

Sukhasana My intent for the day’s practice: become more Indian. As an Indian from Indiana who has never been to India, I want to get in touch with my roots, and doing yoga seems like a fun way to do that. Ommmmmm As we flutter our eyelids open, Brittany, the instructor, says, “Today we’re going...
A Black Hairstory Lesson

A Black Hairstory Lesson

There was the year micro-braided, brokenhearted girls sang Ashanti in prayer circles, their sopranos trapped in their sinuses, the incantation to be unfoolish neutralized by the next shape-up with a pair of Butters. Then the year triple-X-tee’d boys-will-be-boys broke down the name of Osama bin Laden into call-and-response, pounding the battered faces of lockers to...
Fluency

Fluency

What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open – Muriel Rukeyser We learned English faster than our parents, their tongues too old to take a new shape. Our tongues still coated in milk, this meant we didn’t pray like they did, and God didn’t answer when we...
Hairy Credentials

Hairy Credentials

Summary of Qualifications Nicole is a professional woman who wants to rock her Afro in business settings and still command respect. Her career includes ten years of camouflaging her true self to stay marketable and frying her mane to avoid frightening employers with her real hair texture. The consequences of her cover-up—a bald spot and...
Siberia, Atlanta

Siberia, Atlanta

When I tell you that my mother’s father was born in a Siberian prison, I’ll remind you that was because his parents were perhaps exiled as retribution for political acts. Or simply because they were Jews. He, however, was a baby. Some of what I will tell you is true. Were they Jews? Yes. But...
Summer Missionary

Summer Missionary

With our third foster baby I begin dreaming of bruised women, women I have to help up the stairs, their egos battered, terrible mothers, until I notice that they are not the birthmothers, they are me. I think of something the church people used to say when I was growing up: be grateful for what...
Toledo, Ohio 1977

Toledo, Ohio 1977

Fried chicken and sweet potato pie. Blatz beer on our father’s breath. That autumn Michael and I bagged leaves and burned weed with Anthony, walking house to house with a rake, ringing the doorbell and not running. He taught us how to ask for what we would be owed. We raked and mowed the small...
Black in Middle America

Black in Middle America

I spent five years in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula—a place I didn’t even know existed until I moved there to attend graduate school. I lived in a town of four thousand people. The next town over, over the portage bridge, had seven thousand people. In my town, the street signs were in both English and Finnish...
\'in-glish\

\’in-glish\

I learned to speak English in preschool, at two and a half years old, still young enough to do away with any lingering Chinese accent. Though, sometimes, I wonder if every trace had been scrubbed away, listening intently to my own voice rattling around in my skull for signs of foreignness. The cheery teachers sang...