Written by Casey Ramos
When I was little, I thought being “mixed” meant your skin looked like
cookies and cream.
Only later did I realize that being mixed is less like two colors on one canvas
and more like mixing waters of two oceans.
And only later did my sister,
overwhelmed by the complexities of race,
develop the idea that she
“doesn’t see color.”
If you don’t see color,
who’s standing in the mirror?
We are confusing and maybe the slopes of our eyes and the curves of our cheekbones don’t make sense together.
Maybe our jaw says something different from our lips say something different from our hair.
We don’t need to make sense.
When you were little,
and you let the snow feather on your shoulders as you danced,
didn’t I tell you you were silver?
If you don’t see color,
where is our family?
Think of our skin as a canvas of experience. As a testament to emotion.
I tell her,
don’t try answering the questions they ask you.
I tell her,
Don’t ask yourself their questions when you’re alone.
I tell them,
If “American” means checking one box we cannot help you.
I ask them,
Can I help you?
When someone tells you they don’t see color,
ask them what they are looking at.
If I could tell my sister one thing,
it would be that the veins in her cheeks look like lower petals in the sunlight.
That we are the blues of Boracay beach and the lush greens of the Amazon.
The whites of sampaguitas and the browns of splintered seashells.
When you were born,
didn’t they tell you you were platinum?
We were created by the force of the Earth straining against itself.
There is always a stray current.
There is always a motion, a pulse.
We are so bright.
Didn’t they tell you we are diamonds? |
| Casey Ramos is a senior in COM majoring in Film and Television and minoring in Deaf Studies. She was born and raised in Queens, New York in a Brazilian/Filipinx household. Growing up against such a diverse backdrop is what fuels her writing, which often centers on language, race, and sexuality. Nearing graduation, Casey has finally stepped foot into her dream industry of video games, where she hopes to be a writer for interactive stories and perspectives that have yet to be represented.
“This piece was written in reaction to a conversation between my sister and me about her claim that she does “not see race.” This happened a mere few months after I had to teach her that we weren’t white, as she was dealing with being classified and questioned about her race by strangers at her school. All too familiar with the confusing emotions of being questioned about my nationality by strangers, often accompanied by weird comments like “Oh so you’re not really _” or “Are you sure you’re not [insert something I’m not here]?” I’ve become fluent in speaking about what this is like for me.
Situations where I feel safe or even eager to connect with people about race affect what it feels like to sit alone with myself and all the labels I occupy. This is what brings about the question “If you don’t see color, who’s standing in the mirror? Rather than grayscale, why can’t we instead recognize the beauty in color?
We’re still very much works in progress, but the point is that we don’t measure progress by how palatable or easily understood we are to someone else. The goal is to exist far beyond these many boxes and take our own shape. I am learning to make art of my love/hate relationship with ‘difference’ within and without. This piece was one of many that marked my steps along this journey.”