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Torn between two cultures
Town between two worlds
Into a sea of Barbies
A little Chinadoll is hurled

I’m lucky to be in America
The land of the brave and the free
Many children around the world
Don’t have it as good as me

Our parents bring us here
To the land of opportunity
To learn everything there is to learn
And be the best that we can be

Mommy tells me that good Chinese girls
Are quiet and polite
And that good Chinese girls study
All day and every night

But I’m not a perfect student
Sometimes I’m too loud
It’s hard to live to up their expectations
It’s impossible to make them proud

I don’t think I’m growing up
Exactly how they planned
They ask, “Why do you act so American?
You’re CHINESE, don’t you understand?!”

And the other Asian kids
Say the same kind of stuff
Years of prejudice and pain
Have made them cold and tough

“Don’t try to act white,
You’ll never be like them
Different blood flows through your veins
From a different place you stem.”

I don’t know how I’m supposed to “act”
American or Chinese
There are too many voices yelling
Too many people I can’t please
“Be proud to be American!”
“Shout out Asian Pride!”
It’s hard to the suppress the screaming
Building up inside

Sometimes I wonder
If somebody might
Flick a little switch
And turn off all the lights

People won’t be so quick to judge me
If my color they can’t see
And maybe for a little while
I could just be me.

By Kelly Chen, used with permission

Stop and Reflect
Reflect on the content of Kelly’s poem as you read the chapters in Part One. How does the content of her poem relate to the ideas in the chapters?


Creative Commons License
Part One: Understanding the Roles of Language and Content by Gisela Ernst-Slavit and Joy Egbert is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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