Lament by Jo Chiang




I raise my hands up to the faces on my wall

And as I trace the figures of those who have it all

I realize they’re everything that I would want to be

Yet the only thing I see

Among the Kendricks, Poehlers, and the Streeps

Are women who don’t look like me

You see,

There’s a story out there somewhere

Drifting through cities, clinging to air

Of a little girl who couldn’t love a character

With hair and skin and a nose like hers

No champion, no hero

Least not one she thought that she deserved

So when it came the time to pick a costume

Her fingers gingerly tugged the wig on in her room

But it just didn’t feel right

Dressing up as someone white

Her stomach hurt, her heart was tight

Her cheeks too flat, her eyes too slight

A handful of Asians on the big screen

Three percent of roles, where we can be seen

That’s the truth of the American Dream

And when we shout to be heard

They tell us not to make a fuss

Leaving us with just the crusts

As our dreams turn to rust

It’s just,

All I want is to tell stories

To create worlds where we all can be

Champions and heroes

Not defined by the way our eyelids fold

Not defined by beliefs that we don’t hold

No bitterness for when we’re told:

Thank you for your interest

But you don’t fit our mold.

We’ll cast any ethnicity they say

But since your hair’s not fair like the color of hay

Nor your skin as pale as a cliché

We’re sorry you don’t fit

In the story that we’ve written

But we do have one question…

Could you please do the accent?

So yes, I’m scared, terrified even

Of a life in which I can’t believe in

But I can’t just give up trying

Because that little girl crying

That was me

Because I couldn’t see

A future where I could be

Anything I want to be

So for you, little girl

I’ll create a world for you

With Lucy Lius, Yeohs, and Kalings too

A world where they don’t wash us out in white

A place where yellowface isn’t right

So, little girl, when you have to choose

The women on your wall, faces you peruse

I hope that they will look like you

And that one day, on another child’s wall

You’ll be up there too

by Jo Chiang

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