jan from the corner store doesn't understand me, I told her I wasn't mixed; my parents are just different shades of the same color but she doesn't believe me, and the man behind the counter silently agrees.
the old white lady that always takes the 5 train stares at me curiously, her eyes say they don't trust me and I don't understand why. I never thought I had to explain myself to strangers or that my race was the most interesting thing about me but that's always the first question everybody asks.
my aunt told me the other day that I was jabao, in other words, nobody knows what to do with me. I am unidentifiable. my skin screams the sun and stars too small to recognize; it says I am the product of a collision between the blackest sea and the whitest sand. some parts of my body sing a ballad so dark only certain people would ever want to listen to. maybe these are the parts that the old white lady on the five train is scared to listen to. maybe the curls I tried so hard to straighten are what terrifies her, maybe the black in my kneecaps keeps her up at night, maybe the sound of boisterous music in a language she could never understand makes her skin jump, sends shivers down her spine makes her think twice about who I am.
jan from the corner store doesn't understand me, I told her I was jabao, a mix of summer glow and muted winter skin. but she doesn't believe me; says she has never met a Dominican like me, that in some ways I must be a mixed breed. and the man behind the counter silently agrees.