“Why do you always bring that up?”

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Poem by Nikita Arora and Photo by Karen Ngo


“Why do you always bring that up?”
“Why do you always make it about that?”
Questions echoing against my insides
When you spew them into the air between us
Because it’s annoying for you
Because it’s exhausting to make eye contact with this beast in every conversation with me
Because the beast is ugly and repulsive
Because the beast grabs your hand and re-writes your history in your own brain
Because to let her in would be letting the incongruent pieces of you argue
    In brawls of disenfranchisement
Because you can recite the script and you know when to say unethical and call out reverse racism
    The names of feminist theorists roll of your tongue
    You don’t need to be taught by me
    You don’t need to know the people your laws are regulating
    The textbooks can replace the pain that pulses in my experiences
Because you don’t have time for this right now
    You don’t have the time to have this conversation
    You don’t have time to be human to me
    You don’t have time to rethink your beliefs – the ones that keep me at the bottom of the pyramid – this isn’t the real problem you said – people like me distract from the real problems you said
    You don’t have time
    You’re too busy volunteering at the refugee camp in the ghettos
    And asking them what their favourite Christmas song is
Because they’re in Canada now – the multicultural, diverse, mosaic – the you’re expected to have a favourite Christmas song now Canada.

But let’s ask that question again
“Why do I always bring that up?”
Why do I bring up the fact that the word bitch is sexist/it doesn’t matter if she’s a bitch/no don’t try to convince me that you would call a man a bitch in that situation/no I don’t care that Stephen Harper has a good economic plan because he’s racist and I have no interest in earning money off of the backs of coloured people again and again in this perverse neocolonialist slavery nightmare/no I don’t care if you call it the holiday break when it’s still during Christmas/no it doesn’t matter if your South Asian backbencher token MP has endorsed it/no it’s not okay for lululemon to make money off of yoga mats/pants/benches while my family doctor still rolls his eyes when he says the words ‘complementary medicine’/.

”Why do I always bring that up?”
Because I live it.
Because if it’s tiring for you when I bring you face to face with the beast
Then know that it is exhausting for me.
Then know that the beast is who I am, the beast follows me
The beast used to be in me
    -in the form of my hate for my melanin
    -in the form of my aspiration to have a body that I would never have
    -dismissing my pronunciations, my accents, my history because it wasn’t taught/it wasn’t talked about/it was savage/no one was interested
The beast used to be in me
I had to see her when I looked in the mirror
I had to rip her from the linings of my lungs/the pull of my muscles/the hollowness of my bones/the pump of my heart/the power of my legs
I had to rip her off the membrane of my soul
And I bled bits and pieces of my identity
Not knowing what was me or what was her
I had to fill the eggshell spaces she left behind
With conversations like this
With the optimism of change
With the promise that my daughter would not be born with the beast inside of her
With the knowledge that I am among the lucky to even recognize the beast inside me

Unlike you,
I don’t have the luxury of making the choice of whether or not to be face to face with the beast.

And so, my friend,
If you wish to be by my side
You will have to face her from time to time
As long as she follows me
Because the beast, she follows me.
And so you will have to face her from time to time.

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