Mama don’t talk about her childhood.

You visit her old house and imagine

a town. Where she knew everybody —

had four older siblings,

fifteen cousins,

and six aunts,

all on the same street.

Where everybody was like you —

looked like you,

ate your food,

spoke your language.

You bet she didn’t take diversity classes.


Here’s the thing:

You speak American

English with a Southern accent and 

You eat American

baked mac and cheesy grits

that your Mama don’t cook ‘cause

Daddy and dairy don’t get along too well.

But you get to tack Asian to your American 

and tell everyone how you’re different,

like they’ve told you all along.

You’ve known these classmates since you were four.

You feel like you’ve shared their same childhood;

they’ve just labeled you as different.


You have to model for the model minority – 

and you love your language that you had to unlearn,

and you love your food you don’t know how to cook,

and you love your childhood,

and you learn to love the Asian in your name.

You take your place under the sky,

heavy under wondering eyes from Black and White alike.

You bless your neighbor to the right — mano po!

and call your neighbor on the left — cababayan

You don’t live down the street from the people like you;

you spin your own web instead.

Mama don’t talk about her childhood,

but you think she would be proud of you

for making it on your own.

She smiles at you from her place under the sky.

Illustration by Dan Lynh Pham

Written by Abigail Calimaran

Edited by Emerald Liu

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