History Class

Location

I’ve never liked History class.

I always feel left out.

People talk from their own experiences

sharing knowledge about their people.

I wish I could join in on the conversation

if only I knew about my own dead ancestors.

I realized learning about your own history isn’t a right

but a privilege.

And my people never had that type of blessing.

 

Their histories aren’t written in your textbooks,

their stories, packed and shipped away to their silent graves.

The Philippines was never the author to her own story.

Perlas ng Silanganan, Pearl of the Orient

she was a treasure to be found.

So they fought over her, claimed her,

took her dialects away and silenced her with a single language

her people didn’t even know.

She was used.

And the moment she discovered her voice,

no one cared enough to listen.

 

But I never stopped listening.

I may not speak Tagalog or Ilocano or Visaya or Kapampangan

but that doesn’t mean I don’t understand.

I know learning isn’t just in school.

Not all stories are written in books

not all tales are spoken with words

My people are more than just supporting actors in your play.

We are one.

 

Their memories are hidden in the way i walk

their burdens are embedded in my fingerprints

when you hold my hand, you cradle their struggles

and when you caress my cheeks, you embrace the broken families

on both sides of an ocean.

 

The blood that flows through my veins

is the same blood that stained my mother’s glasses the color of roses

the moment she found her father slaughtered in the streets.

At night, my legs are phantom limbs.

They twitch and tingle in solidarity with my diabetic grandfather.

Two men, dead before their successor could hear the sound of their voices.

Voices lost in the mud and grime of their American Dream.

 

So when you see me in your class

and notice I’m doing terrible on your tests,

don’t tell me I’m the one who’s failing.

When you see I’m not participating,

don’t blame me for not understanding

why my history isn’t being taught.

When you see I’m no longer there,

don’t question why.

This history you teach

never acknowledged my presence in the first place.

 

There’s an entire novel

floating in the wind, waiting to be captured.

My people’s memoirs are stuck in the farms that give me food

and the graffiti-embellished walls I walk by everyday.

Eventually I will be in your textbooks.

My story will not die with me in my grave.

We will be the authors of our own story.

And one day, maybe one day,

my great-great-grandchildren will be able to join in on your conversation.

 

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