Orbit: The Asian American Issue
Volume 15:3, Summer 2014
Kumusta ka, kapatid? How are you, little sister?
Im sorry I havent messaged you in so long
As I know youre beginning to learn,
Life has a tendency to consume and overwhelm
Pressures and expectations form jail bars
Prison cells sentineled by the wardens of peers and social norms
Ive been there, grappling with the 4×4 entrapment of my own insecurity
So hear me out
When you smile, show them all of your teeth
With a molar wide grin so the entire world can see
The pearls of wisdom you are capable of growing,
And when you do, take a photo, make it your profile picture.
Replace your current one,
The one of the latest k-pop star you idolize, and judge yourself by
Because your island sun burnt brown skin,
Batoon family button nose
And dimples destined to densen in trial by fire,
Are just as beautiful
So put down the skin whitening soaps and pills
Cause despite what Filipino media would have you believe,
Your self-worth is not directly proportionate to the fairness of your skin
It is determined by the fairness of your actions and the passion of your soul.
And I hear you have a uniform at your new school
Try not to get written up or sent to detention,
But dont let anyone ever tell you
That wearing your heart on your sleeve is against the dress code
That speaking your mind is against the curriculum.
And just because Im 8 years older
And have a knack for basic algebra,
It doesnt mean that you shouldnt
Question, challenge, or criticize me
It means that my heart, mind, and soul
Are GPS google maps for you to read if you ever lose your way
And when our cousin Cory ranks us by superlative
Saying that he is the most handsome
That Joanne is the most beautiful
That Blair is the most brilliant
That you are the ugliest and dumbest
Slap away the hand he raises to strike you
What he should really be saying is that you are the strongest.
You probably dont realize it yet
But you are the bravest girl Ive ever skyped with.
Because inside you is an insurmountable courage
That no instagram effect can ever filter away
When your birth father left
And your birth mother wanted nothing to do with you
You stared hatred and resentment in the eye
And broke free.
You give joy to a grandmother battling the demons of past regret
You give unconditional love to mom and dad though youve never met them in person
And you give me a sister who reminds me there are things are still worth fighting for.
So if life ever gets to be just a little too much,
Im only a Facebook message away.
Dale Andrew Batoon is a poet, b-boy, and pediatric registered nurse from the Bronx, NY now residing in Washington, DC. He attended Georgetown University where he was a co-founder/director of the Corpus Collective, Georgetown's spoken word/slam poetry team, as well as head-choreographer for traditional Filipino & hip-hop fusion dance group Flip Dis Funk Dat. He has competed in numerous poetry slams in the DC area and in the College Union Poetry Slam Invitational 2013, performed his work at the Asian American Pacific Islander Literary Arts & Performance Poetry Festival 2013, and danced with b-boy crew Hoya Break Squad at World of Dance 2011.