“When You Are the Brownest White Girl” by Emari DiGiorgio

Emari DiGiorgio


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
that 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

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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)

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