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“I Am The Ocean”

A work by

There is distance within me
I feel how made up I am of separate entities
This body holds history

Mine has been shaped by different countries, cultures, ethnicities
And so my face, to many remains a mystery

The closest correct answer I get is generally -ISH
South American-ish?

I used to hate everything Asian-ish about me
How everyone assumed I must love Hello Kitty
Rebelled against the perpetuation of a subservient stereotype

Only later to also become ashamed of other parts of me
I would raise my fists to fight but how do I win a war I wage against myself?
Tell me, would anybody here know how to help me?

When worlds collide, we mean they destroy into each other
We’re saying they were whole before but now, they’ve created something we can’t articulate
So we name it debris

Outcast pieces disconnected from one another yet somehow belonging together.
I’ve spent my life understanding what that word means

Are you half of this or maybe even a quarter of that?
I’ve been asked this question so many times, that I’ve decided it’s not just benign curiosity
It’s to define a hierarchy

Exotic, Patchwork, a mutt
We talk about blood and deconstruct it, to the percentage
As if blood cares about the invisible borders we’ve made up
When I bleed, it’s not Malaysian, Chinese, Dutch, German, and Portuguese
It’s red and it hurts

There is a distance within me
I am restless and don’t like staying in one place for too long
It’s like my ancestors are playing tug of war with me
Asking I be in multiple places at once
I wish I could split myself up and live with them each respectively

Respectfully, I am restless because whenever I stay in one place for too long
I am reminded of why I don’t belong
Not fully. Not anywhere

Accepted – to a certain extent, yes
I can pass through places until things get… serious
Then, I am reminded by the power dynamic of race and how it impacts us all

That is the true collision, leaving people in its path as debris

Perhaps you think I’m being a little dramatic!
Perhaps you believe no one truly belongs anywhere
Perhaps we are all just broken boulders made up of debris, floating through space

Well, in that case, I’ll remind you, how it was illegal to be of mixed race, just one generation before me
In many ways, people like me defied systems by simply existing
It’s one thing to not fit in because of your interests
And another to not belong because the shape of your eyes are not wide enough for you to be trusted

I want to stop this fight within me, I get tired of it.
But the reality is, we collectively believe in this idea of invisible borders
And so I will never find peace at the mercy of others.

~ ~ ~

You know, I could swim before I could walk

The ocean was home to me long before I knew about culture, race or ethnicity
I would dive under the waves and when I opened my eyes
It was like I was floating through space

I learned the language of currents before I could form words to describe the feeling
And felt safe whenever I bathed in the ocean’s embrace

I love how the sea can touch land all over the world yet remain connected as one body of water
I feel honored that I’m able to call it home

In this moment, I belong to myself
And realize that I was never the confused one

In a world where scarcity is guarded so aggressively
I understand that my identity is a representation of an abundance mentality
The distance within me exists because I have been chasing something that was never fully mine, to begin with

So now, the questions that might arise in other people’s minds when they see me
No longer feel like they are my responsibility
With humility, I say ‘I no longer have to prove my loyalty’

Instead, I’ve decided to become what my ancestors have always asked of me
To respect them and touch each of their shores respectively
I stretch the waves of my person across continents and don’t stop pushing out currents until I find the islands of my history

I am not debris floating aimlessly

I am cultural complexity
I am born out of love not tolerance
I am everything, everywhere, all at once
I am the ocean and I encourage you to swim in me