What Are You?: a poem

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What Are You?: a poem
(Wes Bausmith Los Angeles Times/MCT)

By RUAA LABANIEH & BETHANY HUANG
Section Editors

Bethany Huang: I’m a Twinkie,

yellow on the outside giving way to

white on the inside.

Not for my culture’s taste

and not for this country’s either.

Constantly shoved off shelves when I try to explain my place.

Who are you?

 

Ruaa Labanieh: I’m a gift,

wrapped in long sleeves and jeans

a bow on my head for every day of the week.

Not for my culture’s sake

and not for this country’s either.

Constantly shaken to figure out the insides

when they can’t guess from the outside  

What are you?

 

Bethany Huang: I’m bubble tea,

drowning in a sea of people

trying to make a quick buck off one cup,

an abrupt change from the crickets when I asked, “Want some?”

I know how long it takes

to sit and wait to make a batch

that will match the ingredients in polyjuice potion.

Wishing I wouldn’t have to bubble in the option of inclusion

on that test where I want to ask

why does my race even matter?

Drink down that glass

as if Cho Chang had helped Harry Potter

Who are you?

 

Ruaa Labanieh: I’m turkish coffee

my future supposedly told in the grinds

struggling to pave a way for myself with a blunt shovel,

not a simple task when icy criticisms scream “Want more?”

I don’t know how long it takes

till I’m buried and immersed under mounds of judgements

that I will inhale and get high off of the little appraisals.

Wishing I wouldn’t crash down to reality

on that test where I want to ask

why does my race even matter?

Tilting my head up to catch snowflakes,

as if critique was as constructive as building a snow plow.

What are you?

 

Bethany Huang: I’m a moon cake and a sun cake,

not one or the other but of the sunrise and sunset,

the time of lovers like Romeo and Juliet

who I know as my parents.

I’m considered a mix or full

depending on with whom I speak to

Sometimes not pronouncing the blend at all

and just saying I’m Chinese.

My mother’s side of the family would be appeased

if I said I was Chinese -Taiwanese

but only being one is hard enough

for someone who can’t hold her own in a debate

about whether or not you can even be Taiwanese.

So  if this would invalidate what I am

I jam my lips together and shut up

long enough for the moon to pass and black out my other face.

Who are you?

 

Ruaa Labanieh: I’m a weapon of mass destruction and a ticking bomb,

not one or the other but a bit of ignorance and fear,

the time of hopefuls like suffragettes and abolitionists

who I know as my friends

I’m considered to pass dangerous wires

instead of salt at the dinner table

Cooking up schemes to destroy the place

that built my second half.

If I said I was an extremist,

forgive me if I scare you, but I’m only extremely peaceful

and just saying I’m Muslim,

again, forgive me if I scare you, but I’m only a peacemaker.

So if this would invalidate who I am

I jam my lips together and shut up

long enough for CNN to air live and blackout my truth seeing eye.

Who are you?

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