My response to “color blind” theory

Color Blind

So you tell me that you’re color-blind
and give no notice to my race
as if it’s a part of me I can just erase
or ignore when it becomes too burdensome.

But being blind means you don’t see, and that includes me
the one you’ve always used as your token “minority friend”
because I’m safe, no threat.

I am more than just a blank canvas for you to paint
your notions of what an Asian should be
Your living incarnate model minority.

I may be quiet but there’s a rage inside
boiling and churning and turning to bile
and it’s heading towards my throat
my tongue and my voice

Someday I’ll have no choice but to explode into
the many parts of me fed up
with color blindness.

I get what you’re trying to say

Being American means leaving your race at the door.
But I was brought here and stripped of my culture
raised with the cape of white privilege
thrown around my shoulders

Open your eyes, I was raised apart from my race
It’s a slap to my face to wave your banner of America’s Melting Pot
around,  pointing out the sell-outs who have made the elite
and telling me to “just get over it.”

Don’t believe you’re more advanced
because you refrain from chinky-chong chants and
eyes pulled back in slants;

until you see me, race and skin
and country of origin, you will never know me.

Show me, show me, open your eyes
Wipe the crust from your lids

And realize that two Wongs won’t make it white,
that every single day we struggle to fight
the lexicon of well-intentioned people proudly
displaying their “color-blind” name tags.

You say I’m intense. Angry. Aloof.
That I make it an issue.
I have too much to prove,

But you happily slam down green beer on St. Paddy’s Day
to honor your one-sixteenth Irish heritage
in your English-Scottish-French-German-Irish-Polish
Church-of-England blood lines.

Open your eyes, don’t dilute me into easy preconceptions,
don’t dismiss our recollections of internment camps, and
Vincent Chin; it won’t begin to heal the pain of
burning and looting of our stores and kin, Yellow Fever,
Wen Ho Lee, tell me you see.

You say you’re color blind but blind means you don’t see
The daily struggle just to be included
in the mother of all fraternities
this club we call “American Dream”
of which the membership fee
is giving up your identity.

Race still factors in to the entrance exam
and if I pass it’s because I’m lying
and if you believe

it’s because I’m lying

© 2001 Jae Ran Kim

Author: JaeRan

Assistant professor at UW Tacoma, writer, and researcher.

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