UNSPOKEN MANTRAS OF WHITE LIBERALS WHO AVOID BLAME AND HEMORRHAGE GUILT

UNSPOKEN MANTRAS OF WHITE LIBERALS WHO AVOID BLAME AND HEMORRHAGE GUILT

by Charlotte Zhang

 

I’m not like that. I would

never be like that even though I

talk to people like that

every day and I don’t say anything

because it makes me

feel awkward.

 

Can you educate me? Can you be my

teacher/my guide/my

fucking moral compass? Can I

 

milk your pain and be a voyeur

in trauma not

my own with wide unblinking

                                                eyes?

 

                                     Those other white

                                                      people are the problem. The

                                             ones who spit and swing and

                                                                     burn while I avert my

gaze.

 

I’m only laughing

because you make me uncomfortable. I am uncomfortable

with this. I am uncomfortable when your voice

is louder and harsher than I

expect it to be. I am uncomfortable when

I am not showered with praise like

confetti for the

bare minimum.

I read a clickbait article about privilege so you’re lucky to have me.

 

And aren’t you grateful? Aren’t things good

enough? Things could be worse, you know. I could be

worse. Everything is just

getting better, you’ll see

                                     [I think you’re being sensitive. Don’t let it

                                                                      bother you. ]

                                                                                   

           

                                       Why aren’t you impressed when I

                               cringe at all the right parts?

 

I can’t see colour not as it drapes

itself around your shoulders

and bristles in my

presence.

 

I can be the mouthpiece you never asked for.

 

AND AS A WHITE PERSON

           

My other friend said it was okay. My other

friend nods/my other friend doesn’t carry bitterness

like a sandbag straining

at the middle.

 

I CAN’T HELP THAT I’M WHITE

 

                                          Can you give me a checklist

                                                       so I know

I’m a good white person. I know

I am I know I am I know I

am I know I am I

know I am

 


Charlotte Zhang is an aspiring filmmaker and artist from Vancouver Island and the product of Chinese immigrants. Her body of work mainly deals with race, sexuality, and identity. She is a recent high school graduate who will be attending California Institute of the Arts in the fall.

Note from the Editor-in-Chief: This poem was originally intended to be in the print issue of Poetry Is Dead 15 "Let Them See You Sweat." Due to an error on my part the poem was accidentally left out of the print issue. On behalf of the team at Poetry Is Dead, we apologize to Charlotte and the guest editors for the mistake.