In Middle School

In Middle School

in Yarmouth Maine

in the whitest State in America

in denial

in despair

I had learned to assimilate:

         to convince myself that I was white

                      I have pale skin

                                 less chinky eyes

                      I don’t speak my native tongue

                                  eat Asian food for lunch at school.

In Mandarin class

that spring,

I began to unassimilate:

My teacher fed me during class

            ciabatta and chili oil

            fresh steam bun with tofu sitting in chili oil

            homemade dumpling leftovers.

She fed me a new identity

I learned my people’s language

  my people’s food

  my people’s culture.

In Middle School

in Yarmouth Maine

I discovered that Asian food

            is so much better than Karen’s food

I began to ask my mom for Asian food

“Can we get dumplings at Hong Kong Market?”

“Can we get steamed buns with pork?”

“Can we go to Hong Kong Market more often?”

When I begin bringing Asian food to school for lunch

I am proud.

I watch movies starring Asians

I watch Asian stand-up comedians

I realize Asian people are attractive

Henry Goulding,

Kevin Kreider,

Gemma Chan,

Jamie Chung,

Constance Wu

            our strong cheekbones

our sculpted facial structure

our eyes

our dark hair

our diverse range of skin tones.

In Middle School

in Yarmouth Maine

I used to think white was beautiful

but I realize that standard of beauty was wrong.

The most important thing is that I embrace my heritage

    my identity

    my self.

I am finally proud

       proud of my brothers and sisters

       who paved the way for other Asian Americans

       proud of my heritage

         my food

I am finally proud to say “I am Asian American”

       proud to say “I am Chinese American.”

I am finally proud

in Middle School

in Yarmouth Maine.

by Zabrina Richards

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