Thirty-four years ago, I was called a swamp rat.
Thirty-four years ago, I was told to get back on the boat.
Thirty-four years ago, my church harbored racists who spoke these words.
And I was silent. I protected my white family from the ugliness.
Twenty-nine years ago, I lay half dressed on a bed.
Twenty-nine years ago, I felt dirty and used.
Twenty-nine years ago, the frat house I thought was a haven held sexual predators.
And I was silent. I protected the white men who I thought loved me like a little sis.
Four years ago, a studio mate told an inappropriate joke.
Four years ago, a studio mate slapped my butt in the empty studio.
Four years ago, the space that I saw as my solace became tainted.
And I was silent. I protected a white man I had thought was a friend.
Two years ago, at a gala, a man sat next to me and my husband.
Two years ago, this white man reached over and touched my cheek with his palm.
Two years ago, a nice evening turned sour.
And we were silent. We decided this white donor was too important to humiliate.
Four months ago, my son walked the two blocks from the bus stop to our home.
Four months ago, my son was stopped in his neighborhood.
Four months ago, a white man walking his dog asked my son what he was doing here.
And he was silent. He walked with his head down and picked up the pace.
Every school day, my son faces bullying.
Every school day, my son hears words like “rice fag.”
Every school day, my son dreads facing these white oppressors alone.
And he is silent.
Now, I am no longer silent. We tried to be good, kind, quiet … the model minority.
We have watched our Black brothers and sisters die in front of our eyes, and we have walked beside them in protest. I hoped a white woman would save us, but white supremacy is stronger than we realized. The hold that racism has on the United States has taken my church, my white adoptive family and the public places we once thought safe.
So for now, we huddle at home. I hold my children close as they call America the land of Jim Crow and The Purge. What else can we do?