White enough

In which I contemplate skin

When I was little, my skin was nearly white enough for my Chinese family. 

‘If you got rid of your freckles you would be so beautiful!’ they would say, whitening cream in hand. 

When I was older, my skin seemed far too white – a failed attempt to inherit my mother’s tone, the smooth brown that delights in sunshine and burnishes with ease.

Now I opt out of the hunt for sun, at home in the bioluminescence of my father’s skin.

And yet increasingly I feel disquiet. This pale passport allows me to elude assumptions, it is an all access pass to no questions asked. 

And the world doesn’t check the blood running beneath.

My half-blood friends whose dice rolled brown are forever asked where they’re from, forever questioned why they’re here.

I think of those times when they wrenched away children who were ‘white enough’. Those times when you might be less of a dog if your luck ran pale. Those times that seem to be circling back around.

And I hear the ‘Go Home’ howls, see the snarling fever as it spreads.

One day I might be lucky that I’m nearly white enough.

And for the first time, I fear that my family are not.