“At Weaving Voices Monologues, we will hear the stories of a group of Smith seniors of color.
Each year there is an increase of students of color entering Smith College. But what have been their individualized and shared experiences during the last four years? What are their stories?
In a society that privileges white, upper-middle class, heterosexual, able-bodied wo/men, and neurotypical people, dominant ideologies and people write stories on our bodies about and for us, without ever asking us to speak. The Weaving Voices Monologues seek to share the stories written and told by students of color; to celebrate and honor the labor and struggles that it took to survive and thrive within the last four years; and to pass on our lived experiences as knowledge to future generations. These are our stories, our experiences and our knowledge shaped not only by race/ethnicity, but also by class, gender, sexuality, ability, and many other facets of our lives. We are leaving evidence for those who come after us, passing on “that there are other ways to live–past survival; past isolation.” (quotation from Mia Mingus)”
As I sat on my bed, thinking up the words that I couldn’t put my finger on
2 hours left until the deadline for Senior Monologues
Thinking back to my days at Smith
I was at a loss for words
Not because I didn’t think my time here was amazing.
It was just…
English was never my thing, you know.
You would think that being an economics major would help.
All I knew was that I wanted to say something
Something that I could feel so… [hand motion]
Yet when gifted with words, I couldn’t
Maybe it was because I grew up speaking English
as if it was the not the language of my own
but a language that I borrowed to get by
At the age of 4, my mother started teaching me English
and growing up on different accents and dialects of my Vietnamese home
it was a struggle
it was a battle between what I wanted to be heard and what ended up being heard
White Americans would think that growing up with a birth certificate like theirs would help
when they forget that people like you and me have to deal with twice the shit
that they could ever handle
And thanks to English, I started stuttering
Not because I didn’t know what to say
But because I had too much
That my mind couldn’t make compromises
With the two tongues in my mouth
Hesitating at my thoughts as if I believed that someone could know me better than I did,
What others would call me
They make up stories about me
Not based on their goddamn grammar rules.
But based on the fact that I am Asian and that I wear glasses
How they assume my inability to see can explain my inability to speak,
I will never know.
So dear white people,
as if you were the parents who adopted me
when in fact you took me away
after bombing the land of my parents’ childhood memories,
thank you for paving the path to my fucked up identity
for being the first people to tell me as if you knew
what was behind my shut mouth
when you don’t even see
the anger that constantly rises
The moment you decide to shove words down my throat for me
How you used the word “quiet” against me
Will leave me
To grieve for all the times when I felt ashamed
Of my voice because I didn’t know that
How strong it could be used against you
I think the most important lesson I learned at Smith
Was that I have always had the right to be angry
That I have always had the right to show it
That WE have always had the right to show it.
Through the kindness and support from my fellow Smithies of color
One: I learned to forgive myself when I stutter
Two: I learned to articulate my anger, and along the way, accepting quietness as my ally, no more my enemy
And lastly, three: I learned to be patient with unspoken words because I know that they are
waiting for me when I am ready
And no one can tell me when.