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Sep 2018
They told me I’m made in the image of God
But why do they tell me, “Stay out of the sun Janelle”
“Make sure you put on sunblock Janelle”
“Use papaya soap Janelle”
What kind of kingdom is this? It feels like hell
Scrubbing my skin
Pinching my nose
What hurts more
Is my deeply rooted self-hatred
I can’t shake it

Pinoy pride on our shirts
But underneath, white is all we strive to be
Home in the land of the free
Pinanganak sa Pilipinas
Lumaki sa America
Sino ka ba?

Ako? I’m proud to live in a place that
Stands for liberty & justice for all
I’m proud to be light-skinned
I’m proud to not sound like a FOB
I’m proud to live in such diversity
But turns out, I live in this hegemony
Sino ka ba?

Ako? I’m free
Free to play the game
My colonizers created
Free to assimilate
Assimilate to eradicate
My Filipina identity

Then Jesus swoops in to save me
Not like my colonizer, no
But as a Father who knows
And loves every part of me as I am, Fil-Am
Sino ka ba?

Ako? Ako ay anak ng Diyos
Binuhos niyang biyaya para sa akin
Para dumating ako sa puntong ito na
Maganda ako kasi Pilipina ako
Now I can see
The image of God
Redeemed in me
This was the first poem that I ever wrote. I had just returned from a six week mission trip in the Philippines where I had begun to further understand the lasting effects of U.S. imperialism and specifically,  how it affects our perception of self.  I was inspired by Ruby Ibarra’s work and I wanted to convey my process in fully accepting my Filipina American identity. Even in the midst of brokenness, I saw and continue to see the beauty of God’s healing and redemption in me and in the Filipino people.
Janelle M Rivera
Written by
Janelle M Rivera  22/F/California
     John, Gamaliel, Skye, Krizhe Ming and George
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