a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
especially the children whose mothers won’t live
to see them achieve the hopes of our ancestors
who broke their backs building the Transcontinental Railroad,
who desired American citizenship but were denied,
who fought in WWII for a country that hated them,
who gave America everything in the pursuit of justice and freedom.
Yet today we are still the foreigners whose English is so good,
as if all Asians are cut from the same dumpling, can be molded
into whatever America thinks we should be.
To my Asian and Asian American sisters,
our bodies, minds, and spirits have been trampled on
for far too long. We must shout to the world!
We are not your china dolls, not your temptations,
fetishes, or addictions; not your model minorities,
not your Madame Butterflies, Miss Saigons, or Dragon Ladies.
We are wonder, revolution, and revelation.
We deserve and command respect.
Margaret Cho said, Stop killing us.
Sandra Oh said, I am proud to be Asian.
[We] belong here.
We will stand with each other, rising like mountains
where bullets can’t touch us. We, too, will someday be ancestors
but not yet, and not by the bloody hands of white supremacy.
It is our honor and deep responsibility
to mentor younger generations. Our legacy,
like our immigrant parents’ hopes:
they won’t have to struggle to be seen as human.
We are survivors. We are warriors.
Though we are full of sorrow, we will continue
to fight for a better world until all are fully free.
In a world trying to kill us, we will strive
to be joyful. We will celebrate who we are:
unapologetically Asian American,
A native of Radford, Virginia, Lisa Kwong is AppalAsian, a member of the Affrilachian Poets, and the author of Becoming AppalAsian (Glass Lyre Press). Her poems have appeared in Best New Poets, A Literary Field Guide to Southern Appalachia, Anthology of Appalachian Writers, and other publications. She teaches at Indiana University and Ivy Tech Community College in Bloomington, Indiana.