Me. Us. Our.

FROM: PacificREVIEW 2020

NOTE: Originally Published in April

I come from a city
where people of color
fill its streets. Where
sweatshop worker Win Chuai Ngan
cut out an ad
found in a thrown out
Thai language paper
for a Thai temple. One night
with clipping in hand
he jumped the razor wire fence,
took a taxi to the temple
and told his story.

I come from a city
where Kazuo Inouye,
after the second World War,
as a realtor, was instrumental
in desegregating L.A. neighborhoods.

Yet, Kazuo was powerless
against white flight,
against white choice.

I come from a city
of immigrants,
where I met Alsih
who left Bangladesh
for a chance at employment,
a government
that is less corrupt. Where
his mother was pregnant
with him inside
as his homeland
fought for their independence
from Pakistan.

Alsih,
now working at a convince store
in Santa Monica.

Me. Us. Our city.

The Tongva,
who are often forgotten,
still live among us,
who are our neighbors
and poets. Our friends.
They were coerced to be slaves—in
missions San Gabriel and San Fernando. Forced
to survive; identified as Mexican.
Learned to speak Spanish.
Converted to Catholicism. Slavery
outside the South.

Me. Us. Our.
Angeleño history.

The Tongva stepping from the shadows.
Indigenous People’s Day.
Haramoknga American Indian Cultural Center.

*****

I come from a city
where people of color
fill its streets. Where
concrete screams reforms. Where our
students’ feet pounded pavement,
walked out of high school in protest
for immigration reform. Where
we raised up our signs to protest for amnesty
for refugees escaping Sandinistas, spoke out
in anger at federal neglect
on the crisis of AIDS.

And we speak out today
because our parents
come from the Mexico of old,
because we
pray to Allah 5 times
each day, because I,
a white man,
had a great-great grandmother
who spoke in a true Scottish brogue.

Advertisement

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s