My Race is a Collision of Shrieks

Senju Rajan

My race is a collision of yelps, yips, of shrieks, Carnatic Punk Rock: Alan Vega smashing a raga over my head. I’ve been bombarded all my life, their immigrant hopes and dreams warring with my domestic aspirations, collateral between my shoulders, rubble strewn across shattered streets once paved with gold, now unrecognizable, weighing down on me. Race for most is an ocular exercise; however I’ve never lived in the third person. I could never see my other; for me, it’s been an acoustic experience. It’s been the agitation I felt as strangers disassembled my name, their tongues stumbling over syllables, mutual confusion commingling into something unfamiliar, something ugly, a phonetic insurgency destabilizing my confidence of identity. It’s been my parents telling me, “We don’t do that” or “that’s only for American people”, their attempt to structure, either implicitly or explicitly, my immigrant experience within an obsolete framework brought from our homeland. It’s been racial slurs, retorts, accusations, praise, rhetoric, you attempt to vocalize over the cacophony that broadcasts what your racial identity means today, what it meant yesterday, what it will mean tomorrow. Do I wish to separate myself from my nascence, my heritage? No. I wish to be recognized beyond the affinity, not of my own choice but not involuntary, to my race. Do you hear me? I’m still listening.


Tweets by Michele Norris