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An Apology

Updated: Feb 19, 2023

Dear Asian Youth,

This is an unaddressed apology

For my mom, with everything I can give.

I love you, and I’m sorry.

I’m sorry my tongue hitches when you tell me you love me.

That I cannot choke up the guts to reciprocate the words.

I’m sorry your immutable appearances

Showcase your distinct features.

I’m sorry we will always be treated like second-class citizens,

That for one second I regretted the way I look

I know conceiving was almost unfeasible

I’m sorry we need to walk around nervous,

That stealing quick glances behind our shoulders

Isn’t for unrequited love but to ensure no one’s trailing behind

For my sister, with every bit of humor I can muster.

I love you, and I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for denying your calls

Faltering between the answer and decline button every time

You call

I’m sorry for the New York City apartments

The ones that reap our wealth

Smothering the bits and pieces Paps earns

Tucking it all away and in turn giving you a cardboard box-sized

Living space

I’m sorry the subway is now off limits

That you need to think not once,

Not twice

But innumerable times

Before you step anywhere near the train tracks

For myself, with every little fleeting moment I spend alone, I’m most sorry to you.

That you spend most nights

Concocting what can only be called

Worst case scenarios

That rejection brings you to your knees

And tears stream ceaselessly down your cheeks

I’m sorry you have wondered for a miniscule second

Whether if you were anything but Asian

It would be a cause for celebration

Don’t dye your onyx hair

Until your roots whittle away

Into defunct strands

Don’t widen your pupils

When your eyes jolt to mimic

Your smile

Don’t deny your identity

The one your mother cried out to the Lord for

To give her a child

When she was almost deemed barren

The one your sister proudly pronounces

Grinning from ear to ear

Only to let her eyes pursue the same expression

The one you cannot change

Yet wouldn’t

Even if given the chance

With nothing but hopes of forgiveness and love,



This poetry piece is a way of conveying my emotions to my sister and mother, although they most likely won't get the chance to receive it. Enclosed are paragraphs of apologies for things I've thought about over the past few months - that I regret - and also things that I'm sorry about, even if they're out of my control.



Keeren Maria Setokusumo is a rising senior and current junior attending Jakarta Intercultural School, Indonesia. Her passion for equalizing women's rights and debunking racial stereotypes can almost be comparable to her love for reading.

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