“Non-White”

My ancestors fought and crawled from the mucky waters of an island to the land of the free.
And still you call them “non-white”.

They slaved away dreaming of all the positive possibilities for their children and their children’s children.
And still you call them “non-white”.

They tilled the land until their hands were crusted and raw like the dirt they worked on for years upon years.
And still you call them “non-white”.

My mother grew up knowing nothing of dolls or fancy dresses – she and her nine siblings worked in the fields of the family farm so that they could make by.
And still you call her “non-white”.

My maternal grandfather fought for this country in WWII asking for nothing in return but the opportunity to live in America, and once he arrived he was given a more American name.
And still you call him “non-white”.

He worked several jobs, mainly as a janitor, saving his pennies to petition each one of his nine living children and their families to join him in the states.
And still you call him “non-white”.

When my maternal grandmother came here, she was our de-factor after-school caregiver – the family matriarch who would forever support and love you. Though we didn’t know it at the time, she helped us survive on government packages filled with its infamous government cheese.
And still you call her “non-white”.

That wonderful and amazing woman made extra money by sewing clothes, fulfilling food and baking orders for friends, and crafting photo albums for sale – all so she could send money back to her family living across the vast Pacific Ocean.
And still you call her “non-white”.

Despite having a college education, my paternal grandmother never again taught mathematics to another student when she arrived. Instead worked two jobs, scrubbed toilets, washed clothes, and somehow found a way to feed her family of 3 as a single working mom.
And still you call her “non-white”.

My father worked for the postal service for more than 25 years as a letter carrier. His job provided enough financial support for us to live a comfortable life. But the physical toll has been rough to witness over the years.
And still you call him “non-white”.

My mother never went to college but faced her fears by getting a CNA license. Doing so made her a better practitioner for her clients – many who are suffering from dementia, Alzheimers, cancer, and illnesses. Her work is often undervalued, but what she does is an important aspect of healthcare.
And still you call her “non-white”.

My parents saved enough money to move to the suburbs, which ultimately gave us a better public school education, despite it being a longer work commute.
And still you call them “non-white”.

We studied our asses off so we could jump further and hopefully gain acceptance. But knowledge was not power – it was simply alienation.
And still you call us “non-white”.

As children, we are told that education is the key to a prosperous future, that whatever we wanted to be could be attained through bettering ourselves, but we were never prepared for the amount of hurdles – both social and economic – that were thrown at us.
And still you call us “non-white”.

Those social and economic hurdles are the locks and chains that bind us to the ground. For equity and equality can never be found when the society that you so desperately want to be apart of doesn’t acknowledge you as anything more than “other”.
And still you call us “non-white”.

Post-racial isn’t a thing because it has yet to exist. Each day I am reminded that where I came from … no where my ancestors came from… those muddy waters of an island far away – is what I will always be known as. I will always be from the muddy waters. No amount of education, hard work, money, sweat, blood, tears, or hours slaving away to “make it” will ever get me closer to being equal to “white”.

Because I am still called “non-white”.

Society will still throw me, and those like me, into a category that it created to separate us from the rest, because it decided that we’re just part of a collection of people different from the status quo.

Society will toss me, and those like me, into a box, an ideal, a perception of their reality of who we are, because it makes the rest of society feel safe and good.

Well I’m here to say, hell-to-the-no. I am not “non-white”. I am not “other”. I am not a “perception of your reality”.

I may have come from the muddy waters of an island far away, but from those muddy waters a beautiful lotus blossom bloomed into the person I am today.

I am complex.
I am multifaceted.
I carry the dreams and hopes of the generations before me.
I fight for the dreams and hopes of the generations after me.
I love and hate, but most importantly, courageously live each day to do the greater good.

And lastly, I am a brown and proud Asian American Pacific Islander woman.

‘Til the next time.
– E

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.