weaving voices monologues: quiet

“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,

I became…

What others would call me

Quiet.

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

Since birth

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.

 

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