Disclaimer: This collaborative work was not created by someone of Asian or Pacific Islander descent; however, it was compiled using the words of contributors, credited at the end, who are of Asian or Pacific Islander descent.
It is an old story, one that my grandpa told my mother, and she, in turn, told me
For as long as we’ve called this place home,
America dines at our restaurants
America frequents our nail salons
America loves our culture,
yet fails to love us
America tells us, you do not belong,
you are not a family member at the table,
failing to recognize our role in the fabric of this country
The sacrifice of Asian immigrants,
leaving behind everything
to move to America
Working for the dollar to survive
Providing for their families
But five generations are still
Not American Enough
Go back to your country
But America is my country too
I was born and raised here,
just like you
This is nothing new
now in the form of caskets
covered in frustrated tears
adorned with mugunghwas, orchids and cherry blossoms
Words carry weight, silence does too.
Our people left the violence of one country only to take on the violence of another,
and you dare lay a hand on our elders,
when all we ever asked for was peace
America, you see us as passive
America, you fail to know us
You continue to misrepresent us
And you turn a blind eye
To the sacrifices
that form our love languages,
engraved in our voices
To the selflessness
that forms our history,
engraved in our bodies
To the devotion
that forms our culture,
engraved in our skin
To the opportunity
that forms our art,
engraved in our hands
I am heartbroken. I am enraged. But I also refuse to let hate prosper.
Alone, we radiate with potential
United, we are an unstoppable force
Beautiful. Golden. Worthy.
We are resilient.
We are divine.
We are human.
I scream it with all the air I can fill into my lungs.
By: Lorraine Olaya
With contributions from:
Joñi Chao Honeywell
Aine E Nakamura
And several other contributors who wish to remain anonymous
A special thanks to:
NYU’s Asian/Pacific/American Institute
Amita Manghnani, the associate director of A/P/A Institute
Aseah Khan, the founder/lead for A/P/A Reads
Professor Pacharee Sudhinaraset from the NYU Department of English
Email Lorraine Olaya at [email protected]