Poem: Invisible Asians

Duong Nhan, pexel.com

Whenever I hear the phrase

black and brown or people of color

I assume it doesn’t include asians

we’re the only minority

that’s discriminated against

even among minority

in Ivy League schools

Asians are an unwanted commodity.

We’re all Chinese aren’t we

we all look alike don’t we

We’re exotic orientals

stereotyped subservient

massage parlor girls

who will love you long time

cause me so horny.

We’re left out of the inequality struggle

we’re just spat out.

But we’ve had our image ridiculed too

in yellow face racist films

We’re hated just as much but we don’t count.

Taunted mercilessly as kids by kids

and the discrimination continues

with adult racists who never grew up.

We were teased with mimicry

thick pretend accents

eyes stretched into a diagonal slit

Ching Chong, long duck dong

emasculated dick,

sex slave pussy propaganda,

alien ornamentals,

chopstick celestials.

We’ve had our rights taken away

over and over and over

but Asians remain steadfastly silent.

No marches or street protests

No evidence of disgrace.

Korean immigrant stores looted and burned

in LA race riots while indifferent cops

guarded aristocratic Rodeo Drive

where nothing was ever in danger of burning.

A lineage of accepting the least

unwanted scraps

Asians made do with and survived

with no outside help

the truth is immigrants

rely on their own hard work

and their own broken backs

keep our heads low

don’t make eye contact

defer and bow

bend like weeping willow

apologetically although

it’s not our fault we eat the blame

and assimilate for inclusion

with plastic surgery permanently shamed

we stained our eyes

with cursed forced fold

irrevocably deranged,

Our eyes are not Origami

asian eyelid circumcision.

Alter our native heritage

noses, legs, dye our silk shining heads

our river black hair

abandon all traces of original natural

until it disappears.

Adopt western nicknames

Tom, Dick and Jane

I’m Judy because my parents decided

non Korean speakers would

mispronounce my Korean name

butcher it profane

and they did call me

“Eugene, Yun, Yoon, Goon, Onion”

Onion of all things!

North Americans don’t have to ever try

to learn any other language

but red white and blue.

Asians are accommodating

an invisible hue

into the extroverted alpha noise

with stoic silence.

Repress the pain and violence

Hide the evidence of kicks and bruises

Survive through long-suffering humble bowing.

Wash dishes for less than the minimum wage

iron shirts with ancient chinese secrets

Plant sugar cane, pan for gold

build railroads and walls

open restaurants, convenience stores,

laundromats, old man donut bars

7 days a week without vacations

so your outsider immigrant kids become

outsider Doctors Lawyers Professionals

discreet subtle chameleons

who try to pass for white.

Banana Eggs all over Berkeley

Don’t stand out don’t shout don’t pout

Laugh with your hands cupped

covering your mouth.

Speak with high pitched

preadolescent voices

programmed on hello kitty cuteness.

Conform to the majority

by finding your designated space.

Keep your head down

during the head count for equality.

Don’t raise your hand or speak up

Never question authority

Burn the picket signs and work for free

Rebuild pyramids by hand,

brick by bloody grip.

Count the endless stars

map the seasons

dip brush into ink.

Weave silver thread gold leaf skeins

break shimmering abalone shells

into cranes and peonies.

Balance food on chopsticks perfectly

Dream meditate reflect beauty

paper fragile windows, silent sliding doors

Rice paddies swimming with iridescent

betas curled in pools of shining water.


    1. Thanks Rosaliene, most people where I live in the SF Bay Area are conscious and value diversity, but I grew up in a less aware environment during childhood, where I saw my parent’s sad experiences with racism. It helps me to write about it.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. This was a very powerful poem. I could relate to a good amount of it and it was moving. Thanks for sharing this

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, glad you liked it. It was Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage last month, I wanted to highlight Asian American topics especially. I also write a lot about the Asian American experience to overcome the “silent minority” expectation.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a really powerful post, Judy! I never understand why we sometimes say we live in a black and white world when there is so much more to it that then, and sometimes it does feel that the issues raised are not very inclusive at all. It’s always important for people to stand up and say “No!” to something.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome. Unfortunately it sometimes takes a lot to get the rights we deserve from the beginning, and mindsets evolve slower than they should. Again, this was really well-written. Stay safe!

        Liked by 1 person

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