Silence is Not an Option – A Poem

In the whisper of night

My voice finds her way

Through the crack in my heart

Image credit: Jasmin Chew @ Unsplash 
For the visually challenged reader, the visually a young Asian woman looking up to the sky, where a crescent moon is visible. Her stance is meditative.

Sadje’s photo choice for her What Do You See #75 pairs beautifully with Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #270 – Whisper. Many times in the past weeks, I have looked up to the heavens, eyes closed, willing a moment of peace, whispering a prayer but really wanting to shout my anger and anguish to the sky.

I was asked to write about the recent news coverage of violence against Asian Americans for a local group that I write for. I am the only Asian person in this group and as such, the assumption was that writing a piece about this topic would be easy. Even I thought it would be easy…but it wasn’t. I’ve been conditioned to believe in the “model minority myth” – the one that says that Asians (especially Asian women) are the “good ones,” the “minority group” that has been able to achieve the American Dream, and because we don’t want to lose this status, we should overlook the ways in which we have been discriminated against, the ways in which racism and sexism has adversely affected our lives. I’ve always been told to keep my head down, do my work, don’t complain, don’t speak my mind, don’t rock the boat. That was how we have survived.

But now – it seems obvious that despite this moniker (that really only served to separate Asians/Asian Americans from other communities of color), we are not exempt from being victims of violence due to racism. No matter how quiet we are, how much work we do, or how many ways we serve this country – we are still considered “other, different, foreign.” There is no way we can assimilate our eyes, our skin, our hair to the white culture of the United States of America.

Yet for years, generations, we have kept quiet. Sure, there have been a few who have spoken out, who have gotten politically involved, trying to make a difference, make a change. But for the most of us, the rest of us, we have continued the mantra of “keep your head down, do your work, don’t complain” – don’t be noticed and they will forget about you and let you live your life in peace.

This belief is like when little kids cover their eyes and think that just because they can’t see us, that we can’t see them.

It’s cute and fun when you’re two, but it’s dangerous and scary to believe this when you’re 22 or 42 or 62.

Asian Americans need to open our eyes. We are not immune to racism or sexism or any other – ism. Whether we stay silent or not, whether we work or not, whether we save lives as a doctor or not, whether we serve in the armed forces or not (I can go on, but I think (I hope) you get the point), none of these behaviors can combat racism because racism needs to identified, racism needs to be called out an held accountable, racism needs to be decried with the loudest voice we have.

Racism needs to be identified.

Racism needs to be called out and held accountable.

Racism needs to be decried in the loudest voice we have.

I hope my broken-hearted voice is loud enough in the roar of day.

©️ 2021 iido

18 thoughts on “Silence is Not an Option – A Poem

  1. Racism. So senseless. It’s the scourge of societies everywhere. I admire the way you have spoken out about this, Irma. We all must call racism out, wherever we see it, whenever we hear it. But it’s not always easy.

    Your poem is lovely though, a little island of peace in the turmoil.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The continuing scourge of racism right around the world is my biggest heartache. Every voice has to be heard, every day. Irma, I wish you didn’t have to experience this personally, but perhaps it gives you a stronger voice than mine, I don’t know. Writing against it is all I know how to do, along with calling out racist speech and actions I witness and donating to some related causes. Mankind’s absolutely senseless inhumanity to each other breaks my heart. Keep writing. Keep speaking out. ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for your support and allyship, Jane. We all need to continue to speak out, write about it and call out racism when we see it/hear it/experience it. It is heartbreaking and we are no way near a resolution.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You speak such wonderful truth. As a Sociology professor, I have seen the stress placed on Asian American students to live up to the myth and be silent. I am saddened by what I see today in this country, and I wonder how we can’t learn from the past to love one another. It shakes my faith in this nation to live up to its creed that all people are created equal. When Asian American students are continually asked where are they from, as though only white skin is truly American, I am reminded that even with being branded as the “good” race, Asian Americans, especially those born here, remain forever foreigners, and that is the saddest thing to me in a nation filled with and built by the descendants of immigrants from so many lands.

    Liked by 1 person

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  5. While I generally agree with your assumptions, one point I think the current issue of “hatred” not biased against Asian/Asian American is towards a particular group of people who “they” believe caused the pandemic or situation the country is in. I believe this is due mostly to social media’s intentional or unintentional publication or oration of biased incorrect information. Consequently anybody who belongs to that group or who lives in that part of the world or who looks like “them” iis PERCEIVED as the enemy. Unfortunately it cannot be corrected at this time if at all as many no longer trust what other people say. No one really knows what’s true or made up or propaganda.


  6. powerful post Irma, we need to hear your roar!

    ‘ism’s’ are a passionate project of mine … I roar if I hear it in general conversation, I challenge it whenever I see it playing out. Those I serve up are often astonished thinking as a white person I might agree or at least ignore their trash … so that gives me a definite advantage! They definitely squirm and hopefully makes them think twice

    Everyone needs to stand up and call it out, silence hasn’t worked 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Well and truly stated, Irma. Thank you.

    And that moniker? Its other use is as one of the greatest implied gaslights perpetrated on any minority: “you guys have it really good, compared to those other guys, so don’t start rocking the boat or we’ll sink it and you with it.”

    Liked by 1 person

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