Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Not either/or

I was asked this morning by the coordinator of my grad program, "So, how do you identify yourself?"

My answer: Chinese. What I should've said was "Today, I feel Chinese." (of course I couldn't really back that up with any reasoning, it's just a gut feeling)

As a biracial individual, I have often felt I had to choose one or the other. I am finding it increasingly more important to carve out my own path and be myself and to build up my biracial identity, because that is who I am and what I come from.

We worked on a poem today titled "I Am From". Here is my start:


I am from casseroles and dim sum

Corn fields and sugar cane

Golden hills with swaths of black

Temporary humidity, more-constant fog

Tradewinds sometimes


I am from the sweet smell of plumeria and sweet peas

Daily rain and weekly thunderstorms

Dairy Queen and Matsumoto’s

A couple of continents’ worth of cicada song


I felt it was so important to include, AND TAKE PRIDE IN, all the places/people/things I am from: Mom's casseroles to Dad's dim sum; the corn fields of Illinois, the sugar cane of Hawai'i, the dried and burnt landscape of Northern California; the cicada of Illinois, Hawai'i, Taiwan, and Japan. 

I am a complex story, as is everyone else...

2 comments:

hdurrow said...

Awesome! I'm so glad you are writing about the reality! And yes, as a biracial/bicultural person myself--my answer to "what are you?" sometimes changes not just daily but hourly.

MOBarger said...

I like your poem! If you work on it more please share.