Casual DMV Racism

The white woman at the DMV 

Stares down at me

16 years old and in line for my first I.D.

I take the photo twice to make sure it comes out right 

My grin stretches from one hidden ear to the other 

But my smile drops when the woman starts talking to me in slow, enunciated English 

 

She asks for my green card 

I must have looked extremely confused because she spoke slower with each syllable

It’s almost like she knew each letter stung like the salt on the wound of colonization

She looks surprised when I lay down the passport for this nation 

 

“Your English is so good”

“Do you ever want to go back?”

“So exotic”

I am tired of explaining to people that I am just as American as I am Pakistani 

For some reason we have normalized the idea of a white United States where everyone else is a visitor

 

I could feel her staring into my brownness 

Like my existence was some sort of experiment gone wrong

Take out curry left in the microwave for too long?

.m

The white woman at the DMV greets my gray-haired father and proceeds to ask if I was his...

WAIT WHAT?

Wife?!

Cue the gagging noises from my dad and my outright disbelief 

 

In that moment I am reminded that I am seen as a fraction of a whole 

I am seen as both oppressed and the oppressor 

I am seen as a 4 foot 11 inch terrorist 

I am seen as foreign in the worst way

I am seen as overall otherness

 

When I tell the white woman at the DMV that her comments have been racially inappropriate 

Her facial expression is utter shock

It’s as if she had seen a ghost 

Or a mosque burning down 

Or a brown girl trying to scrub the melanin off her skin

 

She is more offended that she is being called out on her racism than her actual racism 

And She claims to not see color 

I laugh because it’s the only thing she’s seen since I walked in 

I do not understand why there is no in between from her ignoring my existence to hating it 

 

The white woman at the DMV does not understand 

I do not expect her to 

The government that she works for is held up by a system that was not built for people that look like me.

The government that she works for is ran by a pathetic excuse for a man

Someone that preaches for muslim bans 

While sporting a bad fake tan

The irony is real 

The rise in hate crimes is real

My fear walking down the street in broad daylight is REAL

 

The day after the DMV 

A man in the parking garage at the mall 

Points straight at me 

And calls me a piece of S-H-I-T

I run 

Because I know that one day it won’t be words they point at me 

This poem is about: 
Me
Our world
Guide that inspired this poem: 

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