Self-Portrait of a Shaman: Mixed Media by Sophia Terazawa

In this age of good, I-am-not-racist-how-dare-you-call-me-racist white supremacy, the boundaries of expressing pain wrap more firmly around the neck. Make sense. Produce talking points. Improve. Convince. The headshot should be powerful but not too threatening. Edible.

My mother does not want to say how her father combusted in Vietnam. She does not want to say how a woman died next to her in the fisherman’s boat. It is not conducive to dwell on memories, but the ghosts, the ghosts are not so patient with amnesia.

Eye of Shaman

Close-up color image of the shoulders and head of a one-eyed Asian American person.


Our ancestors are demanding attention, but they do not want statements of accountability. They do not want peace treaties or tax-deductible donations.

Our ancestors were murdered, and they are demanding intimacy. Here is where the shrapnel pierced my flesh. Do you want to hold it?

White America does not know what to do with such incantations.

White America burnt the bodies of my mother’s people but did not know what to do with the ashes.

My chest is an urn.

Asia America, stop giving thanks to a country that promises cease fire if we cross over.

Asia America, stop apologizing for our angry dead.

Asia America, take the bullet and re-write a constitution. We, the wretched…


Sophia Terazawa Bio PicSophia E. Terazawa is a poet and performer. Her work confronts the psyche of white supremacy. See more at her website.

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  1. The Unpalatable Issue: Letter from the Editors | As[I]Am - November 21, 2015

    […] Self-Portrait of a Shaman: Mixed Media by Sophia Terazawa An “illustration and invocation” about ancestry, violence, and identity by Sophia Terazawa. Mentions refugees, violent incidents, and self-harm. […]