Unravelling and weaving, sometimes simultaneously

Passe Blanc

They have a word for it here
“passing for white”
because it is not antiquated
even if the privilege should be

I do not know
having been bleached from birth
from the brain down
to ignore that I am brown
that I am red
that I am anything but white
if there is a term like that
for me

I do not know
what it was like for my father
who grew up in an adobe
the first son in a large family
of an alcoholic
poor enough to lie about his age
so he could work to support
his mother and siblings
proud enough
he took classes to lose his accent
yet refused a fellowship
offered him based on his brownness
who shook off his Indian roots
because shit rolls downhill
even for a lower class
brown boy

I do not know
what it was like for my mother
who grew up in the south
the product of such blinding whiteness
there was no room for color
of any kind
who was disowned by her mother
for marrying my father
who insisted I only check the Caucasian box
on any form I completed
who taught me to look past skin
but wouldn’t let me bring
my black friends home
for sleepovers
who thought she was past prejudice
but collected mammy kitsch

What I do know
is that I check all the boxes now
I talk about it
I do not simply let people assume
I am a cracker
who is more liberal than usual

I look
and I see
and I weep for
all the children
those that are reared to think
they are better by privilege of birth
those that think that no matter
how good they are
their skin makes them unlucky
those that are afraid
to speak who they are
because maybe riding the line
has some form of protection
if they can just pass inspection
and be deemed
to have the good hair
to be fair enough
to have the right speech
and clothes
and obsequiousness
to be safe.

(c) RCGA 2014


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