my last children’s day gift

Written by Cato Jun

Edited by Rodlyn Mae-Banting

may 5th – children’s day

my family would always celebrate

by gifting the kids

a present,

one that would instill a presence

of dignity

of respect

of love

for us all.

all i used to want for children’s day

was the coolest toy,

the biggest stuffed animal,

maybe even the trendiest outfit.

i did not think

the toy could be a gun,

the stuffed animal could be a president,

the outfit could be a mask.

i was four

when virginia tech happened.

suddenly all the weapons were pointed towards us,

waiting to fire if we made a wrong move.

the damage of one Asian man

who committed a mutiny

affected a community

in unimaginable ways.

in 2007,

i did not ask for a toy.

all i wanted for children’s day

was dignity

for us all.

i was thirteen

when a president was elected.

suddenly all votes counted in favor

for white supremacy and racism and bigotry.

the influence of one white man

who encouraged discrimination

caused this nation

to turn on itself.

in 2016,

i did not ask for a stuffed animal.

all i wanted for children’s day

was respect

for us all.

i was seventeen

when a pandemic struck.

suddenly all the masks that were once for colds and allergies

became a mask of shame as it was “our fault,”

with the 2000% increase in attacks to prove it.

the impact of one virus

that has infected plenty regardless of race

has been dangerously infectious

with its xenophobia.

in 2020,

i did not ask for a new outfit.

all i wanted for children’s day

was love

for us all.

it is 2021.

i am now eighteen

and no longer a child –

though there is no difference

as my innocence and ignorance

were stripped away

from the moment i realized

i would be hated for simply being Asian.

but the remaining child inside of me

asks for one last gift:

please treat people

with dignity

with respect

with love,

not only for us Asians,

but for us all.

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