You think you’re free of taint—

bias, slippered condemnation, voices whiskering approbation

judgement in jars, pickled tight—bulletproof

you think you’re free of it because you march—

you think you’re free of it because you display rainbow flags

with Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ lives matter and Trans lives matter

but people see what they want to see and prejudice is dictate to fashion

if you’re in—you’re safe—but just for a season … maybe two …

this Autumn; Jews will be out—they supported Russia, we can’t have that

this Summer chronically ill women take center-stage, let’s give them their (transitory) moment

moments like coffee shops, expensive and inadequate, the drink half full

cold before you’ve taken a sip

prejudice grows invisible roots, people see what they want to see—

they saw my dark-skin mother pushing a light-skin baby and thought ‘maid’

they looked at her youth and said to themselves, pursed lips, ‘underage’

the disgrace was with them, the disgrace was with them

slipping on what you think you know, like French letters on English beaches.

Do you know? I hate reading publicly because I hate being public

I want to wear a fur lined mask and dim the stage, I want to grow a tail

and paint my nails purple and crawl on all fours making howling sounds

like alley cats, I want to swing upside down like we did at 6 and show my

knickers to the agape boys, I want to suck on lollypops without care of

tooth rot, I want to be myself, I want to be unseen, I want to be uncured

by the dictates of others—your seeming kindness and liberal natures

belie something in the shadows—assumption, derision, certitude— you

know what you know—but you do not—

you hear my accent you believe (wrongly)—”She’s one of those English prigs

stuck-up, entitled, plain-faced, probably wears thick tights in summer

urgh I hate imperialism, royalty, cockneys, Masterpiece Theatre, that sanctimonious

air of privilege, they can’t even cook—don’t they all eat boiled eggs and baby

food?” You see my lack of melanin and think—*sigh* ANOTHER WHITE FACE

“Good grief, when are they going to embrace diversity proper? I’d be glad

if I never saw another small featured, high forehead(ed) white girl

ever again; show the spectrum of humanity, not just the insipid Nicole

Kidman’s of the world, it’s enough already, it’s enough !!”

You see my thin shoulders and believe—”This skinny cult will it ever just END?

If I have to see another thin cheeked woman again … do they actually believe

being a size zero after 35 looks good? Didn’t Nancy Reagan’s ENORMOUS head

tell it all? Give me a woman with curve, sway, succulence, shape, any day over

these starved waifs, these gladless spoils—didn’t Madonna’s boyfriend once

say it was like sleeping with a cadaver? I can imagine, she’s too pale and ordinary

too—bring on change—bring it now!”

You think these things and you don’t know, because people see what they

want to see—quick to dismiss—fast to deride—rapid to discount—

I won’t tell you about my mixed genes, because they’re not OBVIOUS

to you—you—who has already written me off—as white privilege—

I won’t tell you about being Sephardi and Mizrahi, the ancestors

walking through Egypt, Africa, not ten times removed but one—

just because you need to judge me, put me in a box, tie me with a ribbon

that says: boring, ordinary, average, unremarkable—had your time

give others a chance—I agree—I agree—I agree—but

at what expense? Why become the very thing kept you down?

#WhiteGuilt turning corrupt things inside out

the dehumanizing condescension of white fragility*

Why embrace bigotry and reverse discrimination and own assumption

just because for generations people who might have resembled me

did this to you? Resemblance is a facade, Two wrongs make no right—if they tested our blood

quantum I’d have equal African blood, Hispanic blood,

underneath my colorless skin—it’s just how it turned out—flip the coin

your skin is light—your skin is dark—ancestral lottery—people don’t

always look what they are—why do you assume you know? Isn’t that

just like when you walked into a room and everyone shunned you

because they were racist and you were daring to live without peturbment.?

they wanted to tear you down, you stood up and said “NO NO NO I’m

not going to be your victim,” you marched, you still march, I march with

you but you—cut your eye—leave me out—dismiss any value because

I don’t look like what I am—why should it matter? We are all different

some of us carry our color on the inside—you called my friend an Oreo

for not having a Latino accent—her mother grew up in Mexico—

why does it matter? My friend was told she was too light-skinned

“your mama must have had a cracker,” no, her grandfather had light

skin it’s just, it’s just, it’s just, how it’s been—but people see what

they want to see—they see me reading; English accent even as Egyptian/French

—what does it matter? Well it does if you walk into a room and people

turn up their noses because of your melanin—agreed—yet judging isn’t the answer

hating me for being thin without knowing (I am sick, it isn’t anorexia, I would love to drink coffee

and eat brie sandwiches with you but I can’t) —it may

be just who I am—always—was—is—me. No shame but when I open my

mouth and switch on the camera—blushing—knowing—you will judge me

declare me wan, overblown, boring, underwhelming, just another ordinary over-exposed

person of privilege—wrong, wrong, wrong—we’re all wrong to judge

comes in different shapes and sizes—some subtle, some loud, some corrupted

by quiet hatred, exclusion, removal, reversing old forms of hatred—turning

progress into blood lust—just so you know I’m none of those—what you think I am—wrong—

but if I was? Not all accents, body-shapes, skin colors or lack

thereof—are oppressors, privileged, gilded, what you believe you know about me

why don’t you try asking? Not assuming

instead of thinking you’re

not as bad as they were to you

when they dismissed and switched



7 Replies to “People see what they want to see”

  1. The truth, in any given moment, of any human being is surely deeper, stranger, and more interesting than even they can know, let alone anyone else who believes they already know it from just looking. What might our world become if humans adopted those powerful words, “I don’t know the truth of you.” in every encounter with another?

  2. It is enough to make one consort only with other species… It’s only fair that we turn that judgement back on the ones who judge us. And as Bob commented, how simple it would be just to meet everyone with that acknowledgment of ignorance? In Japanese when you meet someone you say “Yoroshiku” which translates loosely as “Be kind to me”. We need to raze our habits to that base level of kindness.

  3. You are quite right that the judgment needs to end with first glances. Our DNA will always tell a different story. At the very least, people who judge should only do it in their heads, and we, as individuals, will hopefully not judge ourselves at all. I think the air around us might smell a little sweeter. As usual, you’ve nailed your point, and with such passion. <3 Wonderful, Candy!

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