empty conversations

A day in a life, just observing the conversations around me.

In school they teach us about the victories of the American Revolution, how we saved those “savages” by taking their land, exploiting their resources, how we won WWII, how our righteousness is so great that we must arm middle eastern countries (“No, not because of their abundant oil reserves, but to save them”). Apparently, everyone in the world needs saving. In my history textbook, you can find 1 page about the atomic bombs in Japan, maybe a paragraph about imperialism in the Philippines, a paragraph about the KKK is just briefly mentioned. But everything they don’t teach us was never “Americas’ fault”. My history teacher chuckles as he teaches the lesson, white kids don’t dare to stare at the one black kid. Soon the lesson is over, now they can go back and pretend racism doesn’t exist, history classmates sing the n word in every verse of their favorite rap song. White boys trying to act “gangster”, call that “ghetto” as they drive away in their trucks with their “make America great again” hats, privilege worn on their sleeve. They hurl insults at other boys, says that’s “gay”. Next lesson: women’s rights. People always seem to laugh in history class, like it’s a joke, like everything we learn about the injustices of the people that suffered before us is just a joke. They gawk and laugh at that one girl in class, that stands up against that boy wearing that “menist” shirt. They stare at the girl wearing yoga pants, says they like yoga pants, but when the fat girl wears it, it’s too much. They beg for nude photos from that other girl, they call her “slut, whore”when she does. Next lesson is about Asia. Kpop and anime, wow, the epitome of Asian culture. “No, we’re not all Chinese”  “Then where are you from?”  “America”,”NO, what kind of asian are you?” No, don’t call me Ling Ling, don’t take your fingers and stretch out your eyes. Every stretch twists my stomach, my heritage. They make fun of my food, says it smells funny, it tastes funny, my language sounds funny, but my culture is so cool as soon as it fits their aesthetic. Finally, the bell rings. I walk to lunch, my friend talks about how she hates being asian, that she looks chinky, that ‘too asian’ is bad. What the hell is “too asian”, and when did my friends become so ashamed of their heritage. My white friend talks about how her family supports Trump, my hispanic friend forces an awkward smile, another brick on the wall is laid. “I wish I had that body” my other friend proudly presents the screen of her phone, some girl with butt injections. “I wish I had bigger lips like Kylie Jenner” says my other white friend, my black friend walks to the bathroom remembering the painful memories of being bullied for her full lips. My other asian friend does her makeup, says she wish she didn’t have mono-lids, she also wants a nose job because someone said it was too wide. Now it’s time for the daily scheduled gossip and boy talk. It’s all giggles and smiles, but I don’t think any of them know that they deserve more respect than what they get from their boyfriends. My muslim friend sits in the sun, eating quietly while wearing her hijab, and someone asks, “aren’t you hot? you should talk that off”. No, they don’t understand and they never will. Time to go home. My mom says I’m getting too dark, because apparently my skin isn’t beautiful even to my mom if it’s not white. She says I gained weight, that I would be considered fat in Asia. My dad doesn’t let me leave the house without pepper spray, warns me of the dangers of the night, but he tells my brother to go out and play without a bat of an eye.

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