Speak

There are a lot of things I wish would have escaped my mouth within moments of tension. The amount of thoughts that run through my head per minute could fill the pages of a book and still I choose to remain silent. I was taught at a young age to respect those around me, but as I grew more and more each day, I began to see that the respect you give may not be the respect you receive.

I never understood what it meant to stand up for myself. When my intuition was sending me signals, I felt paralyzed. There was this invisible layer of self-doubt and fear that enveloped me to a point where I felt everything but free. How do you express deep anger and pain that you’ve suppressed all your life? Remaining silent to me felt like a safety net to avoid conflicts and uncomfortable situations. However, what I didn’t learn was that in order to be your own person, you must be proud of who you are and stay grounded through the chaos of discomfort. Yet I was a young mixed-race girl unsure of the world and the aftermath of my words.

So these are words I wish I could’ve said now that I have the courage:

  • When my elementary school teacher told me I shouldn’t celebrate where I’m from when she briefly pointed at the Philippines on the map.

Do you think any of us will remember this pointless lesson on geography you decided was a wonderful lesson plan? Because trust me, the majority of Americans don’t even know that the capital of the United States is Washington DC. Let a little girl celebrate a moment of pride in culture. You get to celebrate it everyday of your life.

  • When I brought my mother to school and all the parents thought she was my nanny because of how much lighter skinned I was.

She’s my mom and I am proud to call her that. Her skin color does not give you the social hierarchy to make assumptions over who she is nor the occupation she obtains. Worry about your child that you fail to take care of because you’re never there for them.

  • When my Economic teacher impersonated an Asian woman.

You didn’t need to do that to tell your story. Nor did you have to specify that she was an Asian woman. What difference does it make? The way she speaks doesn’t make her less of a person. You only speak one language and this woman is able to speak multiple. Who’s the incompetent one now? Quit bashing on accents and educate yourself for once.

  • When my Technical Theatre teacher impersonated my mom.

The reason I didn’t laugh at your joke was because I found it extremely racist, and the reason I’m not reporting this issue is because it would’ve been swept under the carpet. My mom has been through more obstacles than you ever will, so what gives you the right to make a joke out of an insecurity she has dealt with all her life? So no, I won’t laugh over ignorant people like you.

  • When I was the only one out of my white friends to not be cast in the play since I didn’t “fit the image.”

Where on the script does it specify that the character calls for a white woman? And what in the story emphasizes whether or not a white woman or a woman of color affects the story differently? Stop trying to maintain white washed theatre. The only people watching your show are parents and students that would rather be home but don’t have the choice. Wake up.

  • When a student pointed to me and another Asian student before saying we “all look the same”.

He’s Chinese and I’m Filipina, which are ethnicities with totally different facial structures and skin colors. Please stop feeding into a stereotype and open your blind, ignorant eyes. We look nothing alike, so think before you splurge out more disrespectful and selfish outbursts.

  • When a white student in my history group said I shouldn’t present because I’m not “well spoken.”

I hadn’t even spoken a single word to you. How can you look at me and form that conclusion? I’m just as smart if not more than anybody else in this classroom. I have a right to be present if I want to.

These are words I wish I could’ve said but feared due to their consequences. Microaggressions will always be a part of me and continue to be imprinted in the back of my mind. I’ve done a disservice for myself by choosing to allow others to speak over me. To myself, I am sorry.

I am proud to be Filipina. It is a part of who I am and always will be. As I continue my life, I will continue to embrace the culture and emphasize the importance of Asian pride. We are beautiful, smart, individualistic people that deserve so much more than what our flawed society throws at us.

To the Madison that I am today, tomorrow, and forever, speak. You were given a voice to use, especially in times of difficulty. You deserve to give yourself the love and strength to fight for your place in this world.

Speak.

Flawless Brown © 2015-2020

Created by Lissa Deonarain