You See Me: A Poem, by Gen Xia Ye Slosberg

image attribution: “P’kudei“, by Davi Cheng, Chinese ink and acrylic on parchment, 2013

by Gen Slosberg 夏夜

I wrote this shortly after returning from the US-Mexico border, and witnessing the trauma and incarceration faced by migrants. The way the white participants reacted to that trauma reminded me of ways I too had been tokenized and dehumanized in Jewish community, and how white people often focus primarily or exclusively on either my deepest trauma, or my most milquetoast, harmless, benign cultural output. My analysis, my complexities, and my nuanced interpretations of how I go through life are rarely seen. So the poem explores dehumanizing stereotypes which Asians, Latine, and Black folks face in a white supremacist society, and a white dominant Jewish community. It also explores the way in which I am a set of walking contradictions, with the two verses beginning with “The way you shouldn’t be but are,” and “The way you should be but aren’t.”

You See Me

I see you.
I see you for your olive skin
I see you for your curly hair
I see you for the exotic tongue you speak
The way your hips gyrate with sensuality
The way you know about faraway lands
The way you shouldn’t be but are –
You shouldn’t be a Berkeley grad but had a 3.9 GPA
You shouldn’t be a leader but cofounded an organization
You shouldn’t be a writer but have a dozen publications
You shouldn’t be fluent in English but don’t have an accent

You shouldn’t know more than I do
shouldn’t matter more.
The way you should be but aren’t –
You should be docile but you’re loud
You should be quiet but you’re articulate
You should be back of house but you’re the hostess
You should be struggling in shul but you’re fluent in Hebrew

You should be less intelligent
should be less important.
I see you for how you Placate my guilt
Tug at my heartstrings
Satisfy my curiosity
Satiate my voyeurism
Don’t you see?
I see you.
You do:

Through the small window of a jail cell
Where I have on shackles.
Through the neon sign in the red light district
Where I blend into a misty shadow

Through the two words of broken hola gracias you can muster

Where I tell you que dios le bendiga
And you pretend to be Dios,
And save me.


Gen Xia Ye Slosberg is a writer, organizer, and researcher based in Oakland, CA. She is a mixed-race, queer, disabled Asian American Jewish woman.

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