Posts tagged "race/ethnicity"
What You Are

What You Are

1. I found my Korean name in the junk drawer. It was printed in old typewriter font on a tiny pink bracelet; the kind that babies wear after they are born at the hospital. But my parents did not take me home from a hospital. They took me home from an airport, after a Michigan...
Mexican Americans and American Mexicans: An Etymology

Mexican Americans and American Mexicans: An Etymology

We are in the car driving south on CA-99 toward Anaheim. My sister, Christy, is stretched out in the backseat, my mom is in the passenger seat one leg tucked under her, the other straight, propped on the dashboard, her heel leaving a smudge, filing her nails. I am driving. We’re only an hour into...
Why I Let Him Touch My Hair

Why I Let Him Touch My Hair

I sat beside a white boy in a dead bar. Alone, he slurped beer, watched football. Hair yellow like an unpeeled onion, no signs of sun on his skin. A typical white boy. No match for me, yet, I started it, impressed him with what I knew white boys liked: Metallica, tits, Seinfeld. He was...
Open Season

Open Season

Here they come coyote, denim sharks with earthen skin, parting the C-Building crowd to bruise blood into pale cheeks, bust up orthodontic smiles, twist back thumbs from scales, turn asphalt into alfalfa, the New Mexican dance with history, the springtime junior high ritual, out for revenge, out for kicks, out for you. * 1: to...
Things People Said: An Essay in Seven Steps

Things People Said: An Essay in Seven Steps

1. But did your husband ride in on a horse? South Indians don’t ride in on horses; that’s North Indian. Was it a big Indian wedding? I mean how many people? I mean how many hundreds? You didn’t wear a white dress? But was it a traditional wedding?  Did you wear a midriff-baring outfit? I...
Full Service

Full Service

It is black Friday. I am wearing a black hoodie with the words RACIALLY PROFILED printed in white across my chest. I am selected, randomly, at check in. Hands in my hair,                       down my back, in my hometown airport.                       Never touching my skin, only the fabric that is covering it. I am...
On the Near Side of the Tracks

On the Near Side of the Tracks

The house is just this side of disused railroad tracks that stretch diagonally across the suburban street, cutting the property into an awkward slice. The house is close to the street, squat, the side yard brownish. Tree stumps and uneven ground make places where leaves accumulate. The tiny garage hunches down where the back yard...
Degrees of Authenticity

Degrees of Authenticity

She was a river child, a tundra child, a mossy child when Ma played a mail order accordion. Where a Ma-Child found it; how it was lost is not the point. After she found it, before it was lost, when I was a girl Ma played the accordion. When Ma emerged to lower a felt-lined...
How to Erase an Arab

How to Erase an Arab

“Israeli General Says Mission is to Smash P.L.O. in Beirut” Seventh grade, social studies—On the family tree, next to the names of my father’s family, I write locations of birth: Lebanon, Palestine, Syria. I trace flags from my atlas. There is no Palestinian flag in the book, but I know how to draw it. When...
Bruised

Bruised

I cut off every curl.   Every nappy thread that would forever belong to him unless I disposed of them.   Even now, when I lie alone at night and close my eyes I can feel his cool fingertips tracing through my scalp.   Until he clutches his fist, my strands tangled around his fingers,...
White Like Us

White Like Us

First encounter: I am seven. We are driving through downtown East Peoria, the small city in Central Illinois where I grew up, me and my mom in the front, my younger sister in the back. Summer. Windows down. Congested traffic. The heat bakes the concrete. Ahead there is a commotion. Shouting, cars honking, more shouting....
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...