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Category: race

Pandemic Poetry 3

Global Pandemics Are Odd 

4/7/2020

 

It’s so odd– 

people in face masks 

sometimes made out of socks,

wearing latex gloves to check the mail

neighbors we didn’t know suddenly and always in their yards 

constantly waving hello–

to see people stared at for the first time.  

 

It’s so odd– 

running out of fresh produce 

baking like someone else’s grandma 

letting my kid eat chips for breakfast

meal planning so nothing goes to waste–

to see people considering inadequate nutrition for the first time. 

 

It’s so odd– 

the guy who doesn’t reach over my shoulder at the store, 

the guy who hesitates a moment before he does,

leaning much closer to my body than is comfortable–

to see people considering their proximity to others for the first time.  

 

It’s so odd–

limits at the grocery store 

but

barricades to enter and to check out 

but

ordered to stay home

but

she’s sick and alone and she’s my partner– 

to see people realize NO applies to them for the first time.  

 

It’s so odd– 

circling 6 ft around each other 

crossing the street when they see me 

coming down the sidewalk 

not holding my girlfriend’s hand– 

to see people experiencing social distancing for the first time.  

 

It’s so odd–

 

considering the safety of what you wear 

and your future proximity to other bodies 

and other people’s values, all with fear, before going out, 

no income, no savings 

racism and classism everywhere

even the places we politely smile and pretend it’s not,

a mother dead at 43 due to unequal access to healthcare

homophobic organizations deciding who lives and who dies

everyone telling you what is and isn’t essential to your own life— 

 

to be living in a global pandemic and nothing has really changed much. 

 

OK, Donald: Our Obsession with Elizabeth Warren on Behalf of Native Folks (And lack of awareness of candidates’ Tribal Policies).

Dear Non-Native Folks,

Your criticism of Elizabeth Warren on Native folks’ behalf is distracting and harmful if you’re not actually looking at candidates’ Tribal Policies or listening to and uplifting Native voices (within and beyond the Cherokee Nation).  And feels a bit missionary.  

I’m not even actually sure what you are doing that the president you want out of office didn’t already do himself on Twitter.

It happened. Colonialism and all of its narratives are tricky as fuck. It’s been addressed. It’s still problematic and still requires un and re-learning. It won’t be forgotten.

But re-sharing (often racist and harmful)  memes that might as well be the president’s Tweets and outdated news articles as further evidence of something that was not denied, but rather owned in problematic ways followed by an entire acknowledgement and apology tour through Indian Country makes you look foolish.  

Check out some Indian news sources.

Share those links if you’re still angry and want to do something about it.  Be careful not to confuse criticism of the harm Warren caused as any candidate’s endorsement.  I’m just going to let you know now that most of what you’ll find is focused on other issues, not white-centered media buzz. And not settler-colonial politics.

My Latina Girlfriend’s White Ass

My least favorite tokenism is the kind where you’re invited to a party to check off a box when you don’t actually fit that box, and they don’t even know you don’t fit that box.  But you’re the closest or most comfortably exotic thing for everyone and they get to high-five themselves instead of growing or getting up from their table from time to time.

Example: Like when everyone kisses my girlfriend’s white ass and checks off the POC seat at their table. I mean, I like that ass more than you do, but it was white in Venezuela and it’s white here. And every Latinx POC knows that. 

Anti-Racist Newsflash: They got white people south of the US/Mexican border.  And something else we don’t talk about much, there are Black folks in Latin America too.  

What does this require us to reconsider?

 

Everything.

 

But let’s pause here for now: 12 Latina Authors You Should Be Reading Right Now. 

 

Note:  Being an immigrant is always complicated.  It’s especially complicated for Latinx folks in the U.S.  This conversation is not meant to minimize that experience.  Our hope is to make our conversation as complicated as folks’ lived realities.  And being a white immigrant, even if you’re an undocumented queer woman, is not the same experience as being a brown or Black immigrant.  Being a Latinx immigrant in the U.S. is difficult, but as with most experiences, it is made less difficult by whiteness.  And language privileges.  But we’ll get to that later in this series as other voices join the conversation.

Language Note: “Our table” or “their table” is a common U.S. English phrase that usually refers to where a group of people meet or share conversations.

Definitions: Tokenism, Latinx

 

Good Morning

Whenever someone audibly says “good morning” to me in public, I get the feeling of being in church.  And I say “good morning” back in the strangest of voices.

.

It feels formally spiritual, randomly intimate.

.

I think we did not say “good morning” to each other where I came from.  I think mornings were not good.  Just a continuation of the sore body work day before.  And weekends the space of second and third jobs.

.

A man sleeping and eating at one of the United States’ many homeless shelters said to me on Thursday: “Your hands are too soft for someone who works 3 jobs.”  And then we played an intense game of Scrabble with another man who sleeps and eats there.  College students made us bad grilled cheese and tomato soup.  We laughed and hoped they were not studying to be culinary artists.  I was thankful for the bad food, too.  My soft hands a marker of my educational, but not class privilege.

.

Later, over the board of letter possibilities, which became increasingly limited and increasingly expanded, as our moves were interconnected, we played sounds we had learned as children in place of words.  We challenged each other with a copyrighted authority in the form of a Scrabble dictionary published in 1996.  And we offered the insults we learned in place of love, too.  We laughed.  We slid and slapped our hands together and here, the contrast of my white privilege met my soft, educated hands. We left fingerprints of food pantry pistachio dust on each other’s skin.  A treat.  Because I could go in the kitchen and bring out whatever I wanted to.

.

I wanted to lose that game, but respect and competition had me playing to win.  Or maybe it was my lack of gender privilege and the echo of questionable demands of my sex, of me.

Respected and sexualized me?

.

I came in second place.

.

They went to bed on the floor.

.

I went home to where I have a bed, but chose not to sleep in it.

.

And much too early, we all got up and went back to work.