Mama said Knock YOU Out: A Mixed-Race Indigenous (Pacific Islander) woman chasing the lie of the "American" Dream

POOR correspondent - Posted on 02 July 2010

sadya maalam
Friday, March 12, 2010;

You know growing up I always wanted a white mom
White mothers knew how to drive cars
They would pick you up from school & have chocolate chip cookies waiting for you when you got home
They were calm, collected, and didn’t yell
They spoke slowly yet surely
They didn’t hit you
Shit, everybody knew white American parents didn’t beat your ass and I was sick of getting my ass beat.
They would help you with your homework
Talk to you about puberty
They would tell your friends to call her by her first name
They had white collar professional jobs and knew how to use a computer
They wouldn’t embarrass your friends with greetings like “why do you stick your ass out when you walk?” or “my god you got fat!”
You wouldn’t have to explain different systems and processes in America to her, she would be teaching you that instead.
In fact, Throughout my couldn’t-afford-a-babysitter-or-afterschoolprogram-onlychild-watching-herself-youth & my 5-8 hour daily television watching habit—I always looked up to white women feminists.

They were the ones in the courtrooms
On the streets leading marches
Writing books
Being interviewed
In the movies, shows, and plays
They weren’t domestic workers and maids. They were professionals.
Career women.
I wanted to be just like that, like them.

As the years passed and I accepted my whole being and identity REGARDLESS of how other people of color-namely Filipinos (un)accepted me
I realized how much of a feminist my mother was.
As I re-establish & settle back at home I watch my mom.
I notice she starts using the political language I use. Naming her feelings and circumstance.
Then I realized-she’s always been a feminist she just didn’t speak the dialect the white career woman feminist on t.v. did.
Funny how they set our standards?

I think about the times she confronted my teachers when I was wronged and they didn’t defend me.
I think about the fights she would get into on the bus with people who would push me around.
I think about hen she helped me skip and eventually leave the girl scouts because they were a bunch of elitist, middle class, white and chinese girls and she felt that they and their parents looked down on us.
See growing up Chinese=White to me.

I think about when my mom would scream at me to toughen up and defend myself. I got in trouble when I didn’t fight back.
That boys only wanted on thing.
For me to do well in school so I can make sure my parents wouldn’t live paycheck to paycheck anymore.
That being loud and talking fast was a skill. That talking shit was necessary.
And not to let them see you cry.

You see, as a kid I was sick of my mom teaching me to be strong. I wanted to be play—to sing, dance, act, draw—to be feminine.

Why all this pressure?
Domestic violence.
And abuse from boys years later---I get it now.

But still, I wanted to get lost in my books, movies, and music the way my dad would.
He never had a care in the world.
He never talked about violence, he talked about non-violent resistance.

Then again—When I went with him to the store people were so nice to him, asked him about his life, it was all smiles all around.
When I went to the store with my mom, people were rude, snappy, and talked soo s l o w and loud as if she was hard of hearing and couldn’t speak English even though she spoke clearly.

Being mixed race I had the advantage of seeing how the exact same people would treat my parents so differently. That my mother’s anger was justified.

But it took me a while to get that. Which is why when everyone would tell me I could never get a white boy-that white boy’s wouldn’t like me-I was confused and upset.

You see, how many teenage heartthrobs were men of color? White boys in movies had things like huge houses in the suburbs with pools and pets. They went on summer vacations to Europe. They never had to worry about a thing.

“White boys don’t like girls like you”.
I was too loud. Talked too much shit. Got in trouble all the time for stealing, cutting school, writing on walls, breaking things, keying & messing with cars, instigating drama, and for laughing when authorities would get in my face.
They didn’t like girls who would kick, hit, stab, or stomp on someone’s stomach.
I was unladylike.
12 year old girls weren’t supposed to be listening to RBL & Andre Nickatina tapes. They’re supposed to like the Backstreet Boys. Their favorite movie shouldn’t be Goodfellas.
I had too much attitude. I was confused.

In my attempts to be more ladylike I started with wearing an actual bra. One that fit and didn’t push my boobs down. Those that knew me from middle school at my new high school thought I “grew” over the summer.

I tried fighting less, listening more. To be less fascinated with weapons and muscle cars and instead care about clothes and airbrush nail designs.
I dyed my hair constantly so it would thin out. So the Russian hairstylist wouldn’t complain about how my hair was “too thick”.

I tried to watch how girls would flirt, boys liked them. I was just the homie.
That flirting shit wasn’t me.
As soon as we got to the party & I got comfortable I stopped caring.
I played dice in the corner with the older guys.
Talked about rap and lyrics and beats.
Talked about who was beefin with who, gangs, and newsworthy items like who just got jumped/pregnant/etc.

Stories were my shit.
I would engage a group full of crazy, undisciplined, teenage boys to listen to one of mine. I wanted to be the first to tell it—full with detail—followed by an analytical discussion of what if’s and clowning the victims of the situations.

My girl friends would be drinking, smoking, and flirting with boys elsewhere. Then we would all leave together and I would think about which rooftops would make good spots for hitting up, and they would talk about which guys I hung out with her cute, crazy, etc. Funny how I didn’t look at any of them like that.

But during this time, my looks changed---or every boy’s hormones started raging—or people started to notice me—and everything was different.
Boys who used to hit me up to kick it now wanted their dick sucked. I wasn’t the homegirl anymore.

I remember walking down the hall in 9th grade and people parting out of my way staring and talking about me. I felt like I was in a movie. I didn’t know whether to feel good or scared.
My phone was blowing up constantly and I couldn’t figure out who wanted to hang out and who wanted to use me. I wanted a boyfriend so bad. My girlfriends were already kissing, dating, and having sex. I wanted to know how holding a boys hand would feel like.

Then whitey comes along—might as well have been the devil. He was three years older than me. He had blue eyes and dark hair just like Ray Liotta. He was 5’11”. People listened when he talked. He drove a muscle car when he picked me up and we talked at his big ass house before we went to the party. He had a nice silver motorola flip phone—the kind I wanted. He liked graffiti, art, gangster movies, and bay area hip hop just like me.

I was stuck. I thought-wow-this is it? Is this what I’ve been praying for? Will I finally have the guy I want? Is he what I want?

I wasn’t myself. I was less loud. I watched carefully. The first time he walked me to my door I ran inside because I was scared he was going to try to kiss me. If I remember correctly, he asked me out on the phone a couple days after that party. Then I think we talked for a week before he had sex with me. I remember screaming and pushing and bleeding everywhere. Then he left to another room. I cleaned my sheets, fixed my bed, and took a shower.

Was that it? Did I lose my virginity? Am I a woman now? It was September, I was 15. The first time I kissed him was Valentines Day of the following year. That was 10 days before I was 16.

I think I resisted kissing him because I felt like I had to have something for myself since he took everything else. He didn’t really care about kissing anyway.

I think he fucked me everyday. It wasn’t sex. It was me letting him have his way because I didn’t want to fight. When I resisted it would turn into a fight with punches, slaps, and me walking home at 3 a.m. It was so much easier just to shut my mouth. I faked it always for his ego. Sometimes I would watch t.v. or read something because that’s how routine and uninteresting it was. I was just a petite body with a “pretty face”.

Sometimes I would think, what happened? I was the first to step up to someone if they ran their mouth.
How did this happen to me?
My friends all left me or I left them.
My life was so consumed by him.
I’m the reason he graduated high school.
He was illiterate so I wrote his papers.
An illiterate graffiti writer? YES. He would misspell in his pieces sometimes and I would laugh at him.
His mom made me cut school to take care of him when he got stabbed.
I had to call meetings to squash beef and save him from getting his ass beat.
I made his portfolio, got him legals, got him introduced to the OG’s, and did damage control and promotion for him.
What a manipulative asshole.
I sold his weed, paint, and etch.
I did the finances.
I had to sneak in his house and hide all his shit at my house so it wouldn’t get taken by the police when they raided his room. I followed his requests when he called me from jail.
I would check his voicemail and hear girls leaving him messages, where was my feminism?

I spent all this time trying to unlearn and resist lessons from my mother because I thought she couldn’t identify with me.
Me trying to be a lady that white boys liked only brought me tears, emotional, mental, and physical pain. I wanted to drop out of high school. I got into so much shit because of him.

He would appropriate all day. Tokenize us, use us for our talents, and affiliations for credibility and street cred. I got it the worst.

ME chasing this “white dream” made me all the more angrier. It was still years before I really understood my mom’s teachings. It’s hard being a woman of color in AmeriKKKa. Especially as an immigrant. Especially if you’re petite and pretty. She would always tell me I’m lucky I’m smart and to use my brain. I do now.

My fist is clenched, my stance is militant, my head held high with my chin raised.
My mother taught me that as a women of color we have to be tough.
We have to be smart, quick on the feet, and with the tounge. Be loud so they can hear us.
And strong so they can feel us.
Not to be scared to step to anybody.
And to leave when we aren’t wanted.
We hold the world’s burdens on our shoulders and backs so we need out space to support and love one another.

When my filipino ex boyfriends mothers first came to my house, she told my mom that she needed to teach her daughter to respect people and not talk back.
My mother replied, “I raised my daughter to defend herself.”

Yes you did mom, and I love you.


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