Monday, December 7, 2009

A Collection of Asian American Identity Poems, Pt. I

I amassed a collection of poems that I wrote that dealt with my coming to terms with my Korean American identity as well as race poems in general. They are put in nearly chronological order so you can see how I have dealt with my racial identity over time. Since many of these poems are incredibly long, I split them up as individual entities and will post them as seperate blog entries.

(Backstory: Not quite sure when I wrote this poem but it was roughly around several months after the VA Tech shooting). 

Revision of the Asiamerican Man's Dilemma

What is this pain I am feeling?

This sensation that I get when everytime someone of my racial heritage fucks up and makes the rest of us look bad in the eyes of America?

Why must I feel guilt or shame over the act of a single individual?

Is it the subconscious collective Asian mindset telling me to feel bad? Or is it the fact that we are a minority population and our small size in numbers make us feel like ants being burned alive by a magnifying glass?

Could it be the connection of a racial heritage that is based on

Kimchi, countless mind-numbing PC cafes, cheap soju, suppressed sex in DVD room and seddy motels, disgrunted and drunk middle aged men pissed off at
their work and families, janitors with tired, resignated faces as they scrub off the shit on the streets and subway tiles, abusive fathers, silent mothers, and an overwhelming feeling of loneliness?

Or is it simply because the connection I feel is that we are both Korean and shared the same feeling of destructive rage?

If so

It is a connection that forces me to re-examine the alienation and self-hatred of my own racial identity.

A connection that while it is shared by many as "collective guilt"
That if you feel compelled to dig even deeper within me
You will find what was once a deep-seated hatred

Anger forged by the belittling prejudices and misconceptions of Asian men, of constantly being seen as a perpetual foreigner, the hurtful words of "chink" and "gook", and that my anger is not genuinely validated but instead mocked.

I am ANGRY because I constantly need to fight to make a simple statement that despite everything, I am a normal human being.

My anger seems to restricted to three forms by American society:
A Bruce Lee-high kicking-kung fu madman
A chain-smoking Yakuza gangster
Or the most recent development in Asian male anger...
An unassuming and repressed individual who takes out his rage through bloodshed and violence...a Seung Hui Cho.

I want people to recognize my anger simply as it is.

When I object to you calling me "Oriental", I 'm correcting you because it's as if you're calling an African American a "Negro".

When I get mad at your insensitive Asian jokes, I am not being overly sensitive but instead I am hurt because it re-opens my wounds of self-hatred.

When I balk at all the Hollywood movies that marginalize or fetishes Asians, I am not being overly critical because movies are my passion and it hurts to see such depictions over and over again.

And this is where I will stop for now.

Because I am constantly revising myself.

From a young and confused boy who couldn't control his rage and wanted to take it out on people who did not deserve it

To a bitter and rebellious teenager who rejected and loathed his Korean identity

To finally becoming a self-confident man who is finally taking pride in his Korean American self and who wishes to give his love fiercely to my all families, in blood and in spirit. A simple man who will fight, protect, defend, honor, argue, and love not only for himself but for everybody that also fights to be seen as a normal human being in this corrosive world of hatred and ignorance.

This poem does not have a true end because to truly end it would mean that my fight, my struggle is over. Or that I have accepted my fate.

So in that case...

To be continued.

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