All Mixed Up

written by Erika Ehren (福島県)

I’m all mixed up
about my mixed up race.
I’m all mixed up
about my multicultural face.
I don’t know what to do
when someone asks me
about my race.
Do I say America?
Because after all
I’m American.
Or do I explain
about my mixed up skin
about my mixed up upbringing
of American burgers
and Filipino pancit?

Does the asker really know
what they’re getting into?
They’re getting into questions of
race, identity, family
racial profiling and vanity
self-esteem issues and
questioning looks at
checked boxes on surveys
boxing me in
but all the while
I just don’t understand.

What does it matter?
Aren’t we all mixed up?
If only a little.

I bet your great-grandmother
had a dash of
Chinese or Japanese
Spanish or German.
Maybe you’re two-thirds Russian
Maybe you’re one-seventh French
Maybe you’re a quarter Icelandic
or just a drop Haitian.

Maybe you’re from a country
that’s no longer a country.
Maybe you’re from a place
no one knows.
Maybe you were born over there
but you grew up here
then moved away someplace else.

Don’t you see?
Don’t you see?
We’re all a little mixed up inside.
It doesn’t matter.

What matters to me is
where you are now
the person you are
the things that you know
or even the things you don’t know
the person you aren’t.
It’s you
just you
just the essence of you.
And it’s me
just me
just as you plainly can see.

So let’s start now.
Let’s start here.
Let’s throw out all
those checked boxes
and questions of birth.
Let’s define ourselves by our
merit and worth.
Let’s take that status quo
and mix it right up.
Let’s mix
and stir
and shake
the foundations
of conventional thinking.

Let’s stop with defining.
Let’s start with being. ◆

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