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
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.
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.
©️ 2020 iido