Rant – A Poem

I could rant about the boredom

About not being able to eat at the crepe place

Or get my nails done to match the front door

I could rant about the kids 

Running around inside then outside, being loud

And disturbing the neighbors working from home

I could rant about the heat 

And not being able to go to the beach

Or to Disney for the first time

I could rant, but I won’t

I can’t

When families are made newly homeless through job loss

When food pantries are not getting enough donations as their lines get longer

When parents are risking their lives for $7.25 an hour

When some kids don’t have an outside

When some kids can’t be loud or else

When black bodies are pitted against blue bodies

When black bodies are killed and will never get to go to Disney

My immigrant, light skinned Asian, college educated, middle class, suburban stay at home mother runner rant is bullshit.

Because I can still breathe when others cannot.

New House in the Suburbs, Paul Klee
1924 – National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

This poem was written for Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #235 – Rant. I have also incorporated a Wednesday Writing Prompt from Jamie Dedes’ that she posted on April 22, 2020 that used the picture above as a starting point. I wasn’t able to write anything for that prompt then, but the picture has stayed with me so I am glad to be able to use it now.

I really liked the haziness of this painting – it reminds me of the images/ideas I had in my head about the kind of house I would live in when I grew up. I wanted a symmetrical house, with a weeping willow in the yard, maybe a pond close by. There would be a swing under the weeping willow and in the fenced in yard, there would be apple trees and flowers. And of course, there would be birds flying under the yellow sun with a few puffy clouds overhead.

I lived on the first floor of a duplex in Brooklyn when I envisioned my “grown up home”. We had a little yard in the back that was usually overgrown with weeds despite our attempts to grow vegetables and flowers. The kitchen was all the way in the back, so you had to pass through all the rooms to get to the back of the house. I would ride my bike up and down the street on the sidewalk, from our house to Aunt Rita’s house – that’s as far as my mom would let us. Sometimes, we would go to the bodega at the end of the block to get treats or get some plantains for a quick and yummy afternoon snack.

My kids have never lived in the type of place I lived in growing up. They’ve only known single family homes in the suburbs with decent yards and two or more bathrooms. They all are currently obsessed with living in tiny homes when they grow up, that they would park in our driveway so we can all still have dinner together as a family.

All my dreams of living in a spacious house have been reversed with my children’s dream of living in a home smaller than my childhood Brooklyn home. The irony.

As I write this in my typical American suburban kitchen with granite countertops, I am acutely aware of what I have, that others don’t. Yes, I know my husband and I worked hard to afford to be “comfortable”; that our parents also worked hard so we can live “better” then they did. But I know we had help – social supports, financial resources and a systemic societal advantage of being stereotyped as the “model minority”.

At least, I used to see it as an advantage. After much reading (check out this article and this one), I realized that any type of stereotype is still a stereotype and is actually a disadvantage. Also, the whims of racism can change quickly and harshly as evidenced by the rise of anti-Asian sentiments with the arrival of the coronavirus that has been named by some as the “Chinese virus”.

So while I have lead a financially and educationally privileged life, I still have experienced racism:

  • I’ve been accused of stealing at the local grocery store numerous time (to the point that I go to a different store farther way in a more diverse neighborhood just so I don’t have to worry about being “randomly audited” when I shop – because it isn’t random if it’s always and only me)
  • I’ve been called racial slurs as I’ve been out running
  • I’ve felt afraid going to a new place and realizing I was the only non-white person there and getting those looks that tell me I don’t belong

The thing with racism is that it erases the individual – that all important staple of American exceptionalism. You don’t see my struggles and triumphs. You don’t know about the awards I’ve won or that my closet with pants sizes ranging from college to pregnancy. You aren’t aware that I love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or of my passionate conviction that Heinz is the best and only ketchup in the world. You don’t know that I dreamt of a house with a willow tree in the front.

But because I have lead a financially and educationally privileged life, I need to use that advantage to help those who were not as fortunate (through no fault of their own). Otherwise, I will be just as complicit in perpetuating racism.

Rant over.

©️ 2020 iido

37 thoughts on “Rant – A Poem

  1. Yep…if you’re gonna rtant… give it a good blast for all of us….. … we have nothing to cry about….but we have the power… Oh Irma, I send you this powerful song…. I’ve the words all weekend…. Like me you want playing tune and singing the words again and again, and again……

    Liked by 1 person

  2. personal and powerful … we all need to make a stand against these bigoted attitudes! When I call them out I get stock answers, so I call that bluff out too … such people feel fully justified. That’s not acceptable.

    You’ve worked hard to fulfil your dreams but many today will not live long enough to do that ..

    Liked by 1 person

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  4. a very powerful post Irma, so much to understand in this one lifetime, I paused many times reading your words about your homes, and life through the years, you have clearly put a lot of heart into this post. I am sorry you had to experience discrimination, it seems no one is spared, stories start to emerge and I am exhausted some days from reading but know how important it is to listen to everyone’s story. thank you for yours here. I love looking at tiny homes by the way, the creativity is amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Gina. Racism is so insidious – no matter how well dressed I am or how many degrees I have, that isn’t seen when I’m out living my daily life and I’m just an “Asian woman”. It is exhausting – so self care is definitely important. I hope how are making that time for yourself. ❤️ I too, actually, adore the ingenuity of tiny homes. They seem so cozy and the thought of being able to pick up and change the scenery when the mood strikes is very enticing!

      Liked by 1 person

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  6. Ooohhh my Irma…that must be very very traumatic, being accused of stealing…ahhh i dont have words to express my anger right now..i can only imagine…
    On the contrary your kids are so cute for wanting to have a tiny home..☺☺☺

    I wish they will grow up to be as strong and as independent as you are..someone who is never afraid to speak up..

    I am with you on this Irma.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Mich! Yes – with my kids no less, the store would always want to look through my bags even after I had paid! So embarrassing and hurtful. At least it’s an opening for a conversation with my kids about racism. I hope they do grow strong and brave! Thank you for the supper and validation, Mich! ❤️❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This was a great read this morning, Irma. I love your poem. It nails it and it’s how I feel every time I want to complain about something insignificant. I’m sorry you’ve experienced racism. I know it happens because it has happened to people I love, so I’ve been aware of it since I was a kid. My birth-daughter is half Asian and she pretty much rejected her white side which includes me and it’s not just about racism, but it’s a big part of it. I especially love your last paragraph. Have you heard of Daryl Davis? He began at a young age to unpack hate and his lifelong question to every racist either directly or unspoken was, “How can you hate me if you don’t even know me.” He’s the guy who collects KKK robes after holding sometimes years-long conversations with the leaders of these hate groups and without judgment. They come to realize how injected their hatred was and when they do take the time to know him they realize it makes no sense. Much love to you today. Hope you have a beautiful weekend. ♥.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, Daryl Davis is a brave and brilliant man! Nowadays, though, it seems that people don’t even want to take the time to get to know each other. It takes vulnerability to really listen to another person and some people don’t want to feel that. I’m sorry to hear about your birth daughter. As a mom, I know that separation from our children can be a very deep pain. Racism can be a painful disconnection, like being estranged from family. Conversation and connection is one way to bring healing. Hugs to you, my dear! ❤️❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks so much Irma. Yes, exactly. Pouring love on it. Loving when it hurts. Listening with all my heart when she is ready to talk. All that. Love will find a way if we are brave enough to open our hearts, but it is hard sometimes. I rereading Brown’s The Power of Vulnerability speaking of. =) Great stuff. I hope you have a great weekend. *hugs* ♥.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I feel the same. We all have parts of our lives where the privilege is obvious and I think, it’s OK to be grateful for it. With this pandemic, finding the silver lining is paramount for our mental health ( at least in my opinion).

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