jenny c. lares

Things I never want to hear again about race and racism

Orbit: The Asian American Issue
Volume 15:3, Summer 2014

Things I never want to hear again about race and racism

I’m not a racist.  I have a Black friend.
Life is not a United Colors of Benneton ad or the Disney Channel
Where you can fill your life with tokens
Count the number of colors on your fingers
Checking each shade off your list just to prove that you’re not a racist.

Racism doesn’t exist.
I don’t see color.
Why can’t we all just be people?
Because I’m still not treated like one.
Every time I spit words you think I’m just angry
Using the stage to bitch and complain and make a big deal out of nothing because

The past is the past and slavery was abolished a century ago.
We’re equal now.
Yet you attack any progress people of color have made
Co-opting language
Twisting affirmative action
Calling it reverse racism
When there’s no such thing.

But it was just a joke.
That wasn’t funny.

You’re being too sensitive.
No, I’m not.

It wasn’t my intention to offend you.
Fuck your intentions.

Another person of color thought it was funny.  Why don’t you?
You don’t have the right to decide
When I can and cannot be offended.

Must you always think about race?
Yes. Because whiteness made the color of my skin
Mean more than a difference in melanin and geography
Used divine reasons to dominate and rape
Profiled me from the beginning as only a force for manual labor
And I can’t shut it out or turn it off whether I want to or not.

You’re Asian?  You don’t look Asian.
Asians don’t all look the same, asshole. 

I’ve never experienced racism.
And some never will.

It’s not just a slur thrown at your face, behind your back
An egg smashed against your front door
Cops beating you down with clubs and tasers
Or access to bathrooms, public schools, and water fountains.
It’s the everyday comment.  The everyday assumptions.
Of my inferiority.
Of the inability to do anything beyond what’s been allocated for me.
It’s the lack of brown faces that look like me on television
The lack of names pronounced and spelled like mine in Barnes & Noble bookshelves
It’s the world in which I live
The world I’m trying to navigate.
It’s a game I no longer want to play on your terms.


jenny c. lares was recognized as one of 15 AAPI women fiercely redefining women's leadership by the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF) and Angry Asian Man. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland, and was the Founding Executive Director of Sulu DC, an arts organization with a mission of nurturing artistic growth and building connections and community within Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities in the DC metro area. A former open mic host at Busboys and Poets, she has featured locally at Artomatic, Mothertongue, and Bloombars, and has performed at the Mellon Auditorium, APIA Spoken Word & Poetry Summits, the Bowery Poetry Club in NYC, and the Asian Arts Initiative in Philadelphia. lares has also performed at Georgetown University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Maryland, Colorado State University, and Rutgers University. Her poems can be found in the anthology, Walang Hiya: literature taking risks toward liberatory practice, Tayo Literary Magazine, The Lantern Review and Bourgeon.