Poetry: ‘Identity Height Chart’ by Angela Acosta

Identity Height Chart

By Anglea Acosta

She didn’t know there were words

for all the peoples she descended from,

always took care to fill out the scantron sheet

to select the right (white) demographic bubbles,

not like when she accidentally picked “multiracial”,

facing an examination not of numbers

but of the teacher’s questions.

 

She just wants to be herself,

to look like herself and her ancestors

in the mirror: dark hair and light skin,

practicing the Spanish pronunciation

of her apellido, a name brought over countries

and generations that she said in English

for the first twenty years of her life.

 

Everyone has names for

everything that she is not.

Cuban, South Asian, Pakistani,

Middle Eastern, Jewish, half-Japanese,

dissecting her features, her identity because her presence

makes them feel confused.

 

She didn’t grow tall,

she grew into herself,

no longer stating percentages like a venn diagram

when they just want her to say the word “Mexican”.

She doesn’t want a hyphen, she wants multitudes,

she doesn’t want to waver between spaces

in ways all the questioners don’t have to.

 

She just wants to create a home

miles from the places her family came from,

to stop answering questions from people

believing in single stories and American myths.

She just wants to finally know,

she’s reached the top of the height chart,

a proud Latina woman.

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