My Name Is…

My name is Mia Cai Cariello

And I want you to know,

I was born in China, Guangxi Province 

As 吴彩卓

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

Early on 

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 

That results

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. 

Breaking Boundaries & A Night of Spoken Word

This weekend the Sarah Lawrence community will be celebrating Women’s History Month with our 13th Annual Women’s History Month Conference, Breaking Boundaries: Body Politics & the Dynamics of Difference.  Friday, the conference opens with a plenary featuring Marilyn Wann (author of Fat! So?) then a Night of Spoken Word featuring Maria James-Thiaw and Lara Frater, plus other artists: Ms. MaDonna Awotwi a.k.a. Sankofa the Poet, Jennifer Bartlett, Andrea Baker, Sheila Black, Shaashawn Dial, & David Wolach.

flier by Kate Wadkins | illustration by Cristy Road

A full conference schedule can be found here.

— Kate Wadkins

Upcoming spoken word events at Sarah Lawrence

9/24
Open mic and spoken word feature: Sam Teitel
7pm-9pm
The Teahaus
Workshop at 6

SAM TEITEL is a performance poet out of New England. He has been a member of two national slam teams, Manchester, NH in 2008 and Portland, ME in 2009. In 2010 he returned to Manchester to serve as assistant coach for the 2010 team. He graduated from Hampshire College in 2009 with a thesis called “Poetry. Performance. Punk Rock.” He is currently living in Somerville, MA and acting as a host and a heartbreaker at the Slam Free Or Die reading in Manchester. Continue reading