car that goes boom (anchorsong) wrote,
car that goes boom
anchorsong

Elena Georgiou

A Week in the Life of the Ethnically Indeterminate

Monday
Sitting in MacDonalds on 103rd & 3rd
I notice a couple staring at me
and hear them say Indian.
They walk towards me.
The woman has white skin,
blond hair, blue eyes.
The man has ebony skin,
black hair, brown eyes.
Excuse me, says the woman,
we were wondering
where you were from.
Yeah, says the man
because you look like
our people.
I look at the whiteness
and the blackness,
wondering who their people are.
We're Puerto Rican, they say
and walk away.

Tuesday
Walking to the store
in Crown Heights I see
an African-American man
sitting behind a table
selling incense and oils
he calls out sister, hey sister,
baby and then makes a noise
like he's calling a cat.
I don't respond.
On the way back
from the store
he calls out, mira, mira,
hey baby,
in any language,
English, Feline or Spanish
I don't respond.

Wednesday
I am buying lunch
at the falafel stand
on 68th and Lex
and the man serving me asks,
you from Morocco?
No, I say, Cyprus.
Where's Cyprus? he asks.
Above Egypt
to the left of Israel
and below Turkey.
Oh, he says looking blank.
How much for the falafel, I ask?
For you three dollars.
For Americans three fifty.
I go to pay and another man
stares hard into my face
and says, Are you a Jewish chick?
No, I say, just leave me alone.
I know who you are, he screams.
I know who you are.
You're just a nigger from Harlem,
passing for white
with a phony accent.
Nigger, he repeats
as I walk away.

Thursday
My boss calls me up.
I have a funny question
to ask you, he says.
When you fill out forms
what do you write for ethnicity?
I check other, I say.
Well, I have to fill out this form
and it doesn't have other.
We look really bad on paper.
all the positions of power are white
and all the support staff are black.
Could you be Asian?

Friday
I am with my Indian immigration lawyer.
Do you mind if I ask you
a personal question, he says.
Go ahead, I say, thinking
he is going to ask me
how I've reached my mid thirties
and have never been married.
But instead he says,
I know you're a Cypriot
from London
but do you have
any Indian blood in you?
There are so many
mixed marriages these days
and you look like the offspring.

Saturday
I am at a conference
and a European-American woman
looks at me excitedly
as though she's just won a prize.
Oh, I know where you’re from, she says
my daughter-in-law is an Indian
with a British accent too.
I'm not Indian, I say.
She continues to not see me
as she concentrates on
hiding her anger
for not winning the trophy
in her self-imposed
guess the ethnicity competition
and then she walks away.

Sunday
I go to lunch at the home of a friend
whose family are Africans of the diaspora.
They don't ask me where I'm from.
Later, my friend tells me,
They've decided you’re
a biracial Jamaican.

That evening,
I'm at a poetry reading
and an African-American woman
crosses the room
to ask me this question,
Are you the colonized
or the colonizer?
What do you think, I ask.
You could be both, she responds
and walks away.
  • Post a new comment

    Error

    default userpic
  • 5 comments