WHEN YOU ARE THE BROWNEST WHITE GIRL
Someone will call you spic. And you won’t know what to say
because you’re a Ferrucci-DiGiorgio from the region of Molise
where olives become oil, and there are slurs for your kind, too:
Guinea, WOP, grease ball, so maybe, the sting is being slapped
with another’s epithet. When you’re the brownest white girl
at CCD, no one lets you play the Virgin Mary, even if you
look the most like her and have memorized all the prayers.
When you’re the brownest white girl, you know you need
to run fast, leave their pink tongues flapping. Though you’re
not as dark as the girl who just moved from Queens, or Javi
and Nando, and Keisha and Tasha have made it quite clear
you’re a white girl, white girl. Though someone tugs
at your kinky hair and says,
Mami, you got a little black in you.
And if there was, some big reveal on the Maury show, what
would it change? When you are the brownest white girl
at field day, you’re a piñata and the blindfolded stick swinger.
One minute you use your hands to block their wild swings,
the next, you beg for your turn to beat on someone else.
from Rattle #58, Winter 2017
Rattle Poetry Prize Finalist
[ download audio]
Emari DiGiorgio: “I have been trying to write a version of this poem for a long time, exploring how one might be both a victim and perpetrator of white supremacy. ‘The Brownest White Girl’ wrestles with the responsibility of living between categories of privilege and marginality when they exist in one body.” ( web)