Slice of Life: To the White Woman Who Feigns Curiosity

Earlier this month, I was inspired over at Ethical ELA to find inspiration for a mirror poem. I used Ariana Brown’s “Dear White Girls in My Spanish Class” to interject stanzas throughout my own.

I see you –
stumbling over the accented i carelessly
because mijo’s identity is a roadblock to your comfort

Spanish- not something you actually have to try to understand, not fancy or sophisticated,
not like French—the language you love over-pronouncing
as if compensating for your basic American whiteness.

I see you –
glaring as I speak Spanish to mijo,
eyeing my white husband; here I am-

desperately reaching
for a language I hope will choose me back someday.

I see you –
wondering why ‘Brittany’ and ‘Kyle’
would purposely choose a “barrier”

Don’t you know I had to fight for this?
For every scrap of culture I could get my hands on,
even if its lineage is as European as yours?

I see you –
your language repertoire limited,
your past a choice to embrace

How does it feel—
to take a foreign language, for fun?
To owe your history nothing?

Elías. Elías. Elías.
Tu nombre birthing power
like my body welcoming you earthside.
Que orgullo.

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I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life weekly challenge.

8 thoughts on “Slice of Life: To the White Woman Who Feigns Curiosity

  1. arjeha says:

    Powerful. Your words, with Ariana’s interspersed, help us realize we should all be proud of who we are and where we came from and not the butt of someone’s joke, someone who doesn’t realize they have a past as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. edifiedlistener says:

    I’ve never seen this format and it is one I will definitely have to try. Unapologetic – yes, that’s the word that comes to mind when I read these poems in dialogue with each other. Thank you for turning me onto something new.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. JenniferM says:

    I love your words and the way they play with the snippets from the other poem (which I didn’t know, thanks for sharing)! The accent, the glares, the condescension poorly disguised as curiosity. My daughters are Marisol and Emilia to honor my love for Spanish, and I’ve been shocked out the reactions to Marisol, from people commenting on how “interesting” or “unusual” it is, to just flat-out refusing to say it correctly (I mean, it’s not that hard!). Your last stanza was so powerful. “Qué orgullo” for sure. Elías is a beautiful name. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lainie Levin says:

    What POWER and LOVE you have brought here. I can feel your strength through these lines. And while the petty side of me would tell that gal to sit on a tack, it’s probably better to wish, simply, for people to emerge from patterns of ignorance. And these lines: “desperately reaching/
    for a language I hope will choose me back someday.” Those took my breath away. As for Elías. Power, indeed. And you also have me wondering – is the pride YOURS, in Elías, or is it the hubris of others? This line – it could cut both ways, I’m thinking.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. GirlGriot says:

    Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow. Everything about this is wonderful, but that last stanza … yes. I went back to read it out loud because I wanted to hear it not just read it, wanted to hear “Elías. Elías. Elías.” What pride, indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

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