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Poetry

An Interview With My Mother About My Childhood

My mother asked me what she should do differently with her second child.
But knowing my mother I can’t tell her the truth without it being a complete disaster

I’d tell you what to change but I don’t think you’ll listen.
My childhood was never about was best for me first
And maybe that’s selfish but it’s not for a nine-year-old
It’s not selfish to want a parent to understand
To speak with love
But you never did.
You still don’t.
You fed me too many Ikea hotdogs
I am afraid my brother will have the same childhood I did.

1.
Ellen, you are not raising a white daughter.
No matter how much you or your family want to believe it
You do not have a white daughter
You cannot raise your child thinking that.
I knew more about what history did to erase my culture
than I will ever know of my culture
Yeah the sexist remarks were wrong,
but you shouldn’t have taught me to say “Thank you” if they related to my race
Don’t be that problematic white woman that ends up in every poem
I am tired of explaining my identity into your history and your family history

2.
I already had a hard enough time in school.
So why not make it worse and give me a super traditional Japanese last name
And then have some white lady show up to parent teacher conferences with a completely different last name
Or how about every TSA agent post 9/11 that asked the little girl if she was being kidnapped
because her last name didn’t match the last name of the person claiming to be her mother
I grew up not belonging because of the last name you picked for me
I grew up always saying no I am not adopted after my name.

3.
You never let me have water guns or nerf guns
Because you thought if you gave me a nerf gun
it would teach me that guns were a toy not a weapon.
But these were a toy.
You wanted me to believe real guns were dangerous and I should be scared.
You wanted me to be afraid of guns.
But you should have taught me to fear the person holding it not the gun itself.
After all songs from our neighborhood warned us. They said Fuck the police and they were right.

Now I didn’t grow up with race riots and burning cities
But it was part of our history
And I can still see where the buildings burned
We still keep bars on windows
People still think of my city like that
I still know the difference between fireworks and gunshots
It’s still just another day in Compton
Because when you google us the same things come up
History on loop: shooting, violent crime, police brutality.
No one wants to pay attention until we produce another music group
Just to get a letter from the FBI
At least they know the power we have now.

Like this post? View similar content here: Marching For Love

Comment
by NicoleTracii

If you asked Nicole to tell you who she was, she could probably sum it up in about thirty seconds. But if you asked Nicole to write about who she was, you’d teach her that she’s more than a few prescribed societal labels. The same goes with how she feels. So maybe Nicole doesn’t know herself until she writes it.

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