In All My Glory

“Do you see me?”

I ask, cracking my knuckles– nervous habit from years of social isolation.

A.K.A Othering (It wasn’t a word before, but it is a word now).

“Do you though?” I want to say.

But my voice catches. My voice always catches when it’s time for me to speak.

Do you see the real me? Not just the me your eyes see.

Do you see the me who spends an hour analyzing Formation,

just so I can pull cultural information

and break it down for digital creation (I’ve a gift of the imagination).

Do you see the stories in me?

Do you see the scars from mami and papi telling me “this country is yours for the making”

while carefree privilege shows me “your culture is mine for the taking.”

Do you see me, the me who thought every bit of my Dominicanness had to be erased and defaced because I thought my beauty was not made for the screen

(or for a boy’s loving).

Is it beauty if you have no witnesses to agree?

I digress and regress, wondering where my story begins and where my story ends

because for so long I kept wondering

Do you see me?

Do you see me?

Do you see me?

Do you see me?

Do you see me, the me who wanted distance from the Heights when I should have been asking for resistance from those Hipster types.

Do you see me, the me struggling to make ends meet because cats with my skin can’t catch a break from supremacy.

Do you see me?

Like the me who can wile out and proclaim “twerk team!” while hitting you with

my knowledge of government policies.

Do you see the real me?

The me who used to see her body as a sexual disease because the girls

who looked like me on tv were in bikinis, or maid outfits or underneath the rest of society.

(there was so much shame in my cup of tea)

Do you see fragmented pieces of me?

That quiet girl at the desk. That curly-haired mess with beat up converses on her feet.

That loud Spanish chick arguing with her white boo on the train.

Do you see me?

Going above and beyond waiting, waiting, waiting for someone in the 1% to give me their hand

while I scrounge for pennies off which to live.

Killing my soul from 8 to 2 because the caged bird sings “I want my creativity

to be what sets me free.”

(Financially, emotionally, spiritually, physically, mentally…)

Do you see me?

In all my glory.

Do you see me?

Do you see me?

Do you see me?

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