The Other

The Other

By Riana Torrejon

This skin has betrayed me once again. Prickly, itchy. I scratch it, and check my fingernails after to see if the color has worn off. No such luck. If it could only be a jacket, giving me the choice of when and where I would like to wear it.

I eye the fairness of my peers and how the light reflects on their skin, as if to say hello. When it falls upon my own complexion, it urges me to hide in the darkness.

“Could we change Rosa to Rose?” (Your name needs to be more English for us to hire you.)

“Your English is really good.” (Why can’t everyone lose their accents like you?)

“You’re pretty for an Asian.” (I’ve never thought otherwise.)

“Where are you from? No, like where are you really from?” (You’re the other. Other than me.)

(Other than Canadian)
And then I come home to my family. I see the time they spend volunteering to help others, the smiles they generously give out to everyone they pass on the street despite the looks and comments their skins may trigger. The skin they wear is waterproof, ensuring that all comments thrown at them roll off. However, judging from the sweat trickling down their foreheads, this skin does not seem desirable as well. This plastic-like material is painful to witness. It’s not their own skin.

I want to wear my skin proudly because I was born with it. It is one of my first inheritances. It should fit me as easily as a baby does in its mother’s arms.

I do not recognize the itchy sweater I wish to take off as my own, nor do I want to succumb to a waterproof coat that suffocates one in sticky heat.

Once again, I look at myself, but now I am all alone. I am away from outside noise. It is just my mirror and I.

I look into my eyes and all I see is the love I have for this country, a factor independent of the skin I want to wear and to own.

My skin is me and your skin is you, but this country is us. Nobody is other, other than Canadian.
Let us stop piercing each other with these phrases. Microaggression is not how we move forward.
Let love take over instead.

Love is louder. Let me love my skin. I love my country. There is no other for I am Filipina and Canadian.

Connotations to many common things said relay these messages. Micro-aggression and systemic racism can be fought, starting with our words. Language is powerful in that it can both build and break people. Let us remember to love one another by changing our conversations, keeping in mind how it may make the receiving end feel. Canada’s promise of a beautiful mosaic is what distinguishes it.

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