Mixed Feelings

It's confusing being mixed.
What I look like, and my experiences,
they don't line up with a typical anything.
I am not European-American,
I am not Puerto Rican,
I am an amalgamation of these things, and more.
When I ride buses, people touch my hair.
When I speak authoratatively, people hear my voice.
When I apply for jobs online, I get rejection notices.
When I arrive in person, I get interviews.
When I hear Spanish,
When I hear English,
I hear languages that I have learned.
I don't think anyone has ever spoken a languageThat I felt was my own.
In spaces where everyone appears to be connected by race,
I feel like I am a stranger.
Regardless of skintone,
I feel so incredibly alone.
When I think of family, I think of people of different skintones
My sister is olive,
my uncle is dark,
my aunt was bright white
while my sister is red.
Skintone gets so muddled in my mind, because to me, it all meant the same thing;
As long as they were family, I saw them as my kin.

People see the light in my skin and they roll their eyes when I speak.
I'm not welcome in places with dark skin.
People see the hair all over my body and the way my body curves, and they tell me that I am ugly.
I'm not welcome in places with light skin.

I don't have a heritage.
My family is made up of severed ties and broken people.
I don't have a "People".
We have red hair and freckles and burn in the sun
And we've dark curls and tans and are 'stout'.
When asked for my race, all I can say is that I'm "Mixed".
Mixed is comfortable to say.

So where do I get to stand in conversations of race?
People continue to draw lines and count blood and percentages.
Tracing lineages to define themselves and each others' worths.
Finding their people in the fine print or the faces they grew up with.
People say that my place doesn't exist.
I'm too light-skinned to speak as a minority.
I'm too different to speak as a majority.
Honestly, to both, I agree.
But I also feel like these aren't the things that I want to address when I talk about race.
Race, to me, has always been used to divide.
Dark-skinned kids told me they wouldn't trust me because I was "White".
That I wasn't allowed to use my own name.
I would hear them murmur about how I was a poser.
How I didn't belong, and we couldn't be friends.
Light-skinned kids told me that I was "Mexican".
No matter how many times I corrected them.
"You're all the same" they would say.
"Why so sensitive?" they would ask.
They'd see my curls and tell me to straighten them
and that I didn't fit in.

I've never felt like I've had a place in this world.
So divided by this concept of race
I know it's important to talk about,
And I know that people have been hurt.
But I'm so tired of feeling this pain
and being scared of being seen.
To be called performative when I talk about matters that pertain to my life.
To be called sensitive when I try to tell people about wounds that I have.
To be boxed in by this concept of whatever race people see when they see me.
I'm so scared of people seeing me
and claiming who I am.
Deciding without knowing me
That I am just here to make a mockery or a scene.
I think we all hurt.

I feel the guilt of being light,
and the pain and fear of being dark.
I'm not enough of any one thing to have an identity.
It creates this incredible pain of feeling like I'm lying to myself and the world
No matter what I do.

What will the world do
When we're all so muddled
That everyone looks like family?
Light, dark, hair types and bodies-
What difference does any of it make?
Stop telling me who I am and what I can love
and what I can touch and care about.
As long as it was shared with me,
What does it matter what I look like?
I'll never belong in a photo
but I want to belong to something.

Just let me be.
I'm tired of people telling me I can't cook when they've never tasted my food.
I'm tired of people telling me that I count towards diversity when they've never heard my story.
I'm tired of being told I probably can't handle "Ethnic" foods when I love pegao and spice.
I'm tired of being told I'm admirable for all I've accomplished as someone of "My kind".
I'm tired of people saying I probably fetishize my lovers when they see me with a darker person.
I'm tired of people saying I'm ugly because I don't fit "White" standards.
Stop telling me what you think I am
Or what you expect me to be.
Don't tell me to get a tan
Don't tell me I'd look better "Shaven".
I've heard it all
I really have
I'm just so tired of fighting.

I'm just so tired of fighting.

Fuck ICE.

This poem is about: 
My family
My community
My country
Our world


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