My name is Mia Cai Cariello
And I want you to know,
I was born in China, Guangxi Province
I wasn’t even old enough to know
That my own government wanted me to go
It would take a year for them to ship me out
People would have you believe my life would blossom and sprout
That the stars aligned
when I was adopted to the U.S. in 1999
It was told to me that in this new country I could sew a new future…
A future with freedom and liberty
No police censorship or brutality
Freedom to be who you want and need to be
Everyone hand in hand
equality – achieved.
But that’s just the American dream
Playing constantly on the world-wide screen
propaganda masking the imperialist scheme
I was taught that the US is the greatest country on Earth
But then why am I still judged by the place of my birth?
Kids Making fun of my eyes with a slight slant
kids being given the seed of racism to plant
Acting like my whole ethnicity is a phenomenon-
That’s meant to entertain them.
Yelling Ching Chong
Acting like I don’t belong
Saying all Asians look the same
And when they’re called out
All their excuses are so fuckin lame
Tired of people assuming I can speak fluent Chinese
Like a language with 30,000 characters can be picked up with ease
Tired of people assuming all I eat is rice
and that I’d be their china doll if they just act nice
Tired of being told I don’t look like a “real Asian”
As if there’s only one specific look.
Like I should be studying out of some sort of handbook
Would you like me better if I took a page from your Asian look book
In a qi pao, sari, kimono, or hanbok?
Tired of being told that I am not a real Asian because I’m an adoptee
Spitting names like banana or Twinkie
The adoptee experience is real and the dismissal of it is ominous
Because Our collective Asian identities are still a plethora
of experiences that are not homogenous
I may not be innately gifted at math
But I know I am more than the sum of my parts
it’s hard to believe so many people still play a part in the perpetuation of our subjugation – constantly chaining us with limitations, fixations on how we must be from a different nation, questioning our affiliations, forcing our assimilation, migration, but still profiting off imitations of our culture.
I guess I can’t blame people for thinking Asians have made it,
When the only image they see is Crazy Rich Asians
But I gotta get something off of my chest,
Our struggles are glossed over
For the story of the model minority —
I want you to see
Our existence in this country is missing some facts
How many people even knows about The Chinese Exclusion Act?
Were you taught about Executive Order 9066
Or were Internment camps glossed over in the name of politics?
Do people know our demographic has the largest wealth disparity?
Not all of us are living a life of luxury
The Asian image is tailored to pale skin and exotic
and all the fetishization is nauseating and toxic
I’m tired of playing this game
In the perpetuation of white supremacy
Telling me to open my eyes wider so that I can see
I can already see
And the answer is simply and beautifully me
We don’t need to change our eyes
go down a size
Or Whiten our skin
To be worthy
Worthy of love and respect
Our self-worth I will kill to protect
Don’t be fooled by the lies you’ve been told
Self-love and dignity are worth their weight in gold,
But my liberation isn’t complete
Freedom for my fellow People of color must be concrete
Stereotypes try to lock the truth uptight,
Trying to keep it out of the light
We are not separate from one another’s struggle
we have a place next to our black and brown sisters and brothers
We can be limitless
but we must continue to fight
To ensure that all who follow us can forever revel in the light
Mia Cai Cariello (she/her/hers) is a Chinese transracial, transnational adoptee from Guangxi province. She is a third-year Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies major with minors in Studio Art, Human Rights, and Asian-American Studies at The Ohio State University. Mia is a Morrill Scholar and is currently the President of two organizations on The Ohio State University’s campus – Transracial Adoptees at Ohio State and Take Back the Night at The Ohio State University.