I am not who you think I am

by Jess Greenburg


I take a step
They whisper, “I bet she’s flat-footed.”
I take a sip of my drink
They snicker, “Thank God that’s only water.”

I turn to go home
They tell me to have fun on “the rez.”
I turn on the TV
Then they call me a lazy slug.

I don’t go to the football games.
They ask if it’s because the team is called the Chiefs
And the mascot is one of “my people”.

Someone mentions their God
And the heads turn to me
One of them speaks up
“She’s Indian, she doesn’t believe.”

I’m quiet when they mention 
Their Thanksgiving days and their Colombus days
And the rest of their 
“We killed your ancestors” days.

I’m quiet
So they say I don’t speak their language
That I don’t know how to have fun
That I’m dumb, “like the rest.”

So I speak.
I speak about their Thanksgiving days
And their “we killed your ancestors days”.
They stare at me.

They ridicule me.
I’m being “too sensitive.”
I need to “lighten up.”
Because they “don’t see color.”

But I can’t help but think
“Lighten up” really means “lighten up your skin”
I can’t help but think 
“Lighten up” really means “whiten up."

CONVERSATION

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