My mama always said I’d be a heartbreaker, but she never suspected I’d break hers first.
When I came home with my first and only American Girl Doll, she sat me down on our steps and said:
“Sweetheart, why didn’t you get a doll that looked like you?” I stared at the doll I chose:
pretty blonde hair, bright blue eyes, plastic smile. I looked at my mom.
“I don’t want her to look like me. I want her to be pretty.”
When a white boy called me “pretty for an Asian,”
and I shied away, retreated into hair that’s been dyed with bleach: lighter
and surrendered back into a soul that had half-died: whiter.
When I found myself suddenly allergic to my culture.
Sometimes when an accent slips from my words my tongue swells
inside my mouth and clogs the words, distorting them.
I never liked the way Korean sounded inside my mouth;
the words always leave a...