Against My Activism
a poem by Julianne Tenorio
Dear Asian Youth,
You’re ruining your aesthetic.
All phrases people have said to me, even my own friends, when seeing
the things I’ve posted
the pieces I’ve written.
I’m expected to follow in their empty footsteps,
sitting on the sidelines just to watch and yell a sugar coated cheer every now and then
Only to be washed away by waves of blissful ignorance
I’m expected to disregard how our world is crumbling into ashes
Rejoice in our privileged bubbles
It doesn’t affect me, so why should I care about it?
Their profiles remain stagnant
As their feed reflects from my glasses
I think, it’s tempting
To just stop.
My mind wanders to all of the times that I thought I wasn’t doing enough
All of the times when I felt burnt out trying to keep up with everything,
What if I went against my activism?
My mother holds my face in her hands
“Anak, don’t be so radical,”
As she scoffs at the videos of
protests and riots
That she would never let me attend.
Her eyes pierce my skin
Slicing through my opinionated words
Stripping away my confidence
But her face softens
As her expression morphs into worry
Is she against my activism?
My father listen to the radio
His fingers turning up the volume button
I watch in disgust
He smiles in agreement
Nodding his head along as the reporters mock BLM
Mock what I’ve been advocating for this whole time
Mock my efforts to campaign for equality
So is he too
Against my activism?
I’ve had multiple arguments with my parents
Our beliefs clashing
Asteroids crashing into Earth
I try to convince them why I believe what I do
While they shoot back telling me I shouldn’t care so much
And I understand, I do
Keep an open mind, my mom repeats to me
I breathe and I nod, my smile weak
They’re trying to protect me from going in over my head
From becoming an extremist, a political terrorist
But I have to remind myself
I’m not like that.
I’m not some passive little girl
Waiting for our justice to be served on a silver platter
Watching my friends just overlooking global outrage
Wishing that I could do the same to fit in
I’m not some quiet little doll
To be shaped into the toxic norms of our society
As my parents hint at me that I shouldn’t grow up like this
Though I appreciate their concern
Yet I don’t understand why they’re so unwilling to learn
I demand for change
I demand for equality
I demand that our poisoned society reform itself
The venomous fangs of injustice sinking into our skin
I demand that we recognize we have the antidote, the remedy
Absorb and allow ourselves to heal
Allow it to course through our veins
Embrace my ideas
Appreciate my participation
And swear to never go
against my activism.