her actions have spoken louder than her words

Her pale arm isn’t raised up high, 

I’ve concluded she texting on her phone underneath the table. 

Much to my suspicion the teacher calls on her to answer a question.

A question of racism. 

Annoyed she’s been called on but obligated to answer, 

she recites a cookie cutter response that shows the class she is not racist. 


And as I stare at her face, seemingly emotionless, 

my mind races.

It swims in the old memories of this pale girl, 

Without intention I recall the time she called me a migrant worker. 

The days she would ask me to cornrow her hair as, much to my dismay, she would tell me that their culture is for everyone. 

The months she would giggle as people would come up to her and say hello, then turn to me and stutter broken Spanish as if I did not understand this pale girls English. 

The years she called me Mexican, El Salvadorian, pronouncing that I was from any country in Latin America except the one my father came from. 

It became her favorite game. 

I re-felt the ache I had every time she explained this joke to others. 

At some point I conditioned myself to take it.

My eyes were compared to dirt, my hair to the image of an unkept birds nest. 

I hated that I didn’t look more like my pale mom, more like my pale friend. 

Stuck with my father’s complexion and my grandmother’s hair, 

My fingers pulled tangled strands of hair into a ponytail.

If I didn’t see it maybe I could pretend it wasn’t curly. 

She destroyed me in the worst way possible, 

I was ashamed of my own image.


She will never know the pain she caused me. 

Her cookie cutter answer may convince the class but it does not change the way she treated me, 

the way she stays oblivious to her words, 

her privilege. 


The class nods in agreement to her cookie cutter answer. 

The teacher moves on.

The pale girl goes back to her phone.

I take my curly brown hair out of my ponytail. 

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This poem is about: 
My community


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