by Jason Stafford
By: Jason Stafford
When you first see me, what do you see?
When you first hear me, what do you hear?
Be true, what did you see? What did you think?
To other white people, I am often called Latino.
To Latinos and African Americans I am called White.
Why do others assume they know who I am?
Skin color does not breed privilege,
Our identities, lives, and opportunity is more complex than the pigment of our skin
and the stereotypical ideals the current American society has on all of us.
The truth is, everyone puts white people to be better then them, but the question is are you always gonna let white people be better than you?
When I moved to Wisconsin, the whole community was white.
I moved to a place I never knew,
moved to a place where I was the one out of line,
moved to a school where no one accepted me,
I moved to a place that would change me forever.
In Wisconsin, students exist in uniform lines
Falling into rank. Side by side.
Only I could never seem to fit the mold.
Me? I looked like I was nothing,
baggy clothes, slurred speech, small vocabulary,
insecure, and not to mention the social anxiety.
All that I got told when I was first there was
” Why don’t you work harder? ”
” Is that all you can do? ”
“ What an idiot ”
Halfway through my freshman year returned to Denver
where all I heard was
“You’re so white! “
“Man! get yo white ass outta here, fucking smart ass “
“Stop asking some many questions!”
“Damn bro, chill which yo smart ass “
When you see my skin you see a wealthy white boy, but you will never see that I get free lunch,
you will never see that I wear the same clothes every other week,
you will never see the struggle my mother and my eldest brother must go through to maintain a stable home,
you will never see that I have to miss school because I have to take care of my younger brother who has epilepsy, you will never see the true me, you will only see my skin.
You will never see how much time she has to spend to keep on eye on my younger brother,
you will never understand the anguish and apprehension we go through for our youngest,
you will never see my mother working two jobs in the summer to rack up a lil’ money,
you will never see the worry on my mother’s face when the bills stack up,
you will never ever see the amount of dignity she loses when she asks her eldest for help,
you will never ever see my true life or my family’s.
I see my difference,
I can see the difference of color,
I can see my difference in my perceived future.
BUT I will refuse to accept this as the reality.
I refuse to see my peers give up
I refuse to see my peers of color crushed by lowered expectations.
I will refuse to let anyone be left behind
I see you, your future, your destiny as a part of my own
we are all connected
our destiny intertwined.
ubuntu: I am because we are
My future is your future
I cannot accomplish my dream without
the people around me
and see, you are those people
No longer can we let our diversity divide us,
we must instead choose to let it unite us.