a poem by Chris Fong Chew
TW: gun violence
I miss the innocent days of childhood.
Sometimes I wonder, when did the world get so big?
Sometimes I wonder if it was always such a scary place.
I wonder if it was always so.
Sometimes I long for those days.
Being able to run carefree without any worries.
No thought of the complexities of global politics or evil politicians.
No thought to the existence of racism, discrimination, hatred, division.
The days when I didn’t live in fear.
When the other kids on the playground were just like me.
We could accept each other as we were.
And not question who they were because of the way they spoke or the way they dressed.
The days before we were all sent to school.
Before we would have our culture and traditions
Mocked, teased, and questioned right in front of us.
Before we were told we were the “bright future of our nation”
And then told we were “naive,” “immature,” and “unaware.”
The days before we learned to categorize people by the color of their skin.
When we didn’t separate our peers by race, gender, politics, or religion.
When someone else's beliefs weren’t rooted in my own oppression.
To the kids whose parents never taught them about other cultures.
Who made me believe that my language, food, and culture were “weird.”
Who made me believe that if I didn’t fit their image of how their parents viewed my race
I was a disappointment, a failure.
To the teachers who never realized their own biases.
Who could never see the world from the eyes of their students.
Who could never realize their own prejudice and misconceptions
Would hurt me and my peers.
To the world leaders who said we are all “just a bunch of kids”
That we are too young, too naive to understand how to fix the world
The same leaders who hold the power to make the world a better place
Yet do nothing when our environment is slowly melting, and kids are being shot at school
I keep thinking about how I was always told to leave it to the “adults.”
How we could trust them to keep the world a safe place.
I question if they ever have.
If they ever made the world a safe place.
Ever pursued peace, justice, equity, and equality with the energy and fervor of a child.
A child who knows not of wealth, or class.
A child who knows not of race or color.
A child who knows not of political party, or political allegiance.
For we weren’t born to hate.
For we weren't born with racism in our hearts.
For we weren’t born with the want to divide ourselves.
For we weren’t born with evil and malice to one another.
Sometimes when they say to spring forward, you have to take a few steps back,
And I think we had the right idea as kids. Every one of us.
To not see race a reflection of one's personality,
To not see another culture as a stereotype or caricature.
To not internalize the hatred that we were taught.
To be kind, to be loving, and above all, human.
- Chris Fong Chew
Cover Photo Source: Boston University