Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Yo También


I, too, am Dominican.
My husband’s family asks me to go to the kitchen
to help Tía Rosa peel plátanos;
when half the plátano
comes off with the skin, they laugh
they say
that’s not a banana you know.

Tía Rosa stands four foot nine
high as my eyeballs;
she wields a paring knife
telling them
cállense you idiots
she can be Dominican if she wants.

This family warns me
quítate del sol
and tries to hand me a parasol
and laughs again
when I say I want to grow
as dark as chocolate sin azúcar like Tía Rosa
whose grandson asks me
if I bathe in Clorox
to take away the color.

All of them know I would rather
eat in the kitchen
amongst the cinnamon-skinned
than in the reception hall
next to the pallid guests.

Yo también soy dominicana.


— Lori D. Nolasco


Lori D. Nolasco's code-switching, Yo Tambien was written as a response to Langston Hughes’s I, Too, Sing America.

Langston Hughes was the "darker brother," so he did not have much choice when he was told to "eat in the kitchen/when company comes." The "too" in his poem's title is a challenge to the white race who dared to exclude him.

On the other hand, the children who encounter the persona who "would rather eat in the kitchen/amongst the cinnamon-skinned" do not understand how the blackness was "removed" from her skin. She has the liberty to decide to "become Dominican."