noun ya·kari \yä’käɾē\ by Yakari Rosales

noun ya·kari \yä’käɾē\
Yakari Rosales

The uncomfortable introduction to
a class that has known each other
their whole lives—
students that have spent their
18 odd years in a small,
tree laden town

students that for the most part—
no, all—
are white.
and I felt that
twofold there.

Thick southern accents apparent
as they tried to pronounce my name
again and again,
asking me to repeat it thrice more
even when my name turned White
just for them.

I can’t help but notice
that I felt apart—
but I know it was because we had
two different experiences of reality.

My brownness made me a
zoo exhibit for them to
ogle at:

“Oh wow, I didn’t know you could speak Spanish”
as if my clear english negated my ability to
speak in my native tongue

“Say something in Spanish!”
as if they didn’t scorn the rest
of my kin when our words reflect
our homeland

“Where are you from?”
followed by a disappointed
as if my answer didn’t fulfill
the narrative they had already
painted for me.

Years later I recognize their
institutionalized prejudice,
their subtle microaggressions—
it was all innocent,
but comments like that
point to a bigger problem
and I question why I never
got mad.

In a white america,
race makes its presence Known.

People of color reap the damage
and are forced to undo
the dialogue fixed upon us.

“How do you say your name?”

I still don’t pronounce it right.

Yakari is a queer Latinx makeup artist who loves flowers and watching sunsets with warm people.

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