THIS IS NOT A SLAM POEM: On Being Asian American.


This… is not a slam poem because when I
hear the word slam, I think about a charge towards battle – a cry, a diss, a fight against
the world’s wrongdoings, our personal struggles. Slam is your fists on the kitchen table, family
arguments, the bedroom door in a fit of adolescent rage.
This is not a slam poem because I don’t want to fight anymore. And it’s not because
I’m the reserved, Chinese American daughter my parents wanted me to be; it’s really
quite the opposite. I have this habit of remembering moments in
my life by the outfits people wear. When I met my best friend in August, she was
wearing long jeans and a gray crewneck sweatshirt with the emblem of our school emblazoned in
crimson. My first heartbreak – a scarlet summer dress
with ruffles at my chest, draped in a black cardigan, my hair braided across the top of
my head. In the 2002 winter olympics at Salt Lake City,
Utah, Michelle Kwan wore a red figure skating dress embroidered with gold. At the age of
6, I had no semblance of what being American really meant, except for the fact that this
was the greatest arena I had ever seen, that this was the national anthem that moved my
mother to tears, that this event brought my family together
under red, white, and blue, and I learned how to cheer for the first time, and I learned
how to spell Michelle just so I could hold a scrap paper sign in front of our living
room television as if she could see me. What are you doing?
I’m cheering for Michelle Kwan. But why? I hadn’t thought about this before, but
the truth it I was cheering for Michelle Kwan because she looked a lot like me.
I was told that I couldn’t do this because I wasn’t acting like an American. At the age of 6, I had never felt so red,
white, and blue before, because what could be more American than watching the Olympics
from the suburbs of New York except for the fact that I and the girl in the red and the
gold could never fully be American? I spent the next decade resisting the skin
I was in, my almond eyes, my parents’ tongue. No matter how hard I tried, and imagined myself
with surgery, and hid underneath my clothes, I could never win. This is not a slam poem because for the first
time in my life, I am unashamed of who I am, I am unafraid to say that yes, I wear red
white and blue. But I wear red white and blue embroidered with jade silk, accented with
the ink from my mother’s calligraphy. This is not a slam poem because I love the
skin that I’m in. This is a high five poem, a warm embrace poem,
a sigh of relief poem. I love my almond eyes, the sound of my grandfather’s erhu, the
reverberations of my mother yelling in Shanghainese at 2 in the morning through the bedroom walls. This is not a slam poem because Asian is not
a pejorative. I am not bound by self-hate, and I will not be the underwritten character
to my own narrative.

100 thoughts on “THIS IS NOT A SLAM POEM: On Being Asian American.

  1. GAH GIRLLL THIS WAS SO GOOOOOOOOOOOOD
    My fav part:
    "This is not a slam poem, because for the first time in my life I'm unashamed of who I am, I am unafraid to say that – yes, I wear red white and blue, but I wear red white and blue embroidered with jade silk, accented with the ink from my mother's calligraphy. This – is not a slam poem. Because I love the skin that I am in. This, is a hi-five poem, a warm embrace poem, a sigh of relief poem…This is not a slam poem, because "Asian" is not a pejorative. I am not bound by self-hate and I will not be the underwritten character to my own narrative."
    I APPLAUD yOU, THIS WAS ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC AND SpoT ON!

  2. ALISONNN YESSS SLAY KILL BOOM BOOM POW this was so beautifully written and full of truth and ughhhhh how can you be this talented???

  3. Oh my gosh. To think you were going to delay putting this up because you weren't sure if it was good. This is fantastic, Alison!

  4. I myself to being a minority but wanting to see the same people who look like me win it makes sense

  5. This poem was incredible and powerful. I loved it! I think it resonates with a lot of minority communities. You are freaking inspiring Alison!!! Great job πŸ™‚

  6. My bf is super proud to be Asian. Although he has only lived in the US for 5 years.. although he has never said it out loud .. I feel like he doesn't like westernized countries.. Like the US, Canada, Australia and countries in Europe. He says it's too liberated and how he wants to go back to his home country someday.

  7. ur channel shud be renamed ilikeunapologeticalison bc yess! this is the best hi-five poem ever!

  8. THIS is amazing and I love it soso much! thank you Alison for being so vocal about AznAm identity. you're seriously the best! <3

  9. girl how was this your first slam poem? you literally blew me away. amazing words and the delivery

  10. would you be able to post in the description the words to this? I'm sorry- I couldn't hear some of the words and I want to hear all the points you're making <3

  11. That was heh… Quite good actually.
    For this kind of format.
    I mean, It's almost moving, and knowing I do not like slam poetry for it's lack of rhymes or rythm.
    You actually succeed to put a crescendo rythm throughout that adds to what's usually quite lacking to this expression form.
    I say it would be better in rhymes. But it was good. EDIT : 2nd watch In fact there are some rhymes sometimes, that's maybe why I feel lke it sounds quite good.

  12. Because you now glorify your own in-group bias? As a serious question, whom are these people that degrade you so?

  13. πŸ‘πŸΌπŸ‘πŸΌπŸ‘πŸΌπŸ‘πŸΌπŸ‘πŸΌπŸ‘πŸΌπŸ‘πŸΌπŸ™ŒπŸΌπŸ™ŒπŸΌπŸ™ŒπŸΌπŸ™ŒπŸΌπŸ‘ŒπŸΌπŸ‘ŒπŸΌπŸ‘ŒπŸΌπŸ‘πŸΌπŸ‘ŒπŸΌπŸ‘ŒπŸΌ

  14. You got this out so smoothly all in one take. I'll just send you your Oscar for Best Performance in the mail now…

  15. So great!! Seeing positive representation at a young age is so important.

  16. Whoa… that was deep, moving, and beautifully spoken! claps Keep expressing yourself! You said things that need to be heard, and I'm certain you have a lot more very meaningful things inside to share with the world! Keep that passionate voice of yours going!

  17. AHHHHH BETWEEN YOU AND BUTTON POETRY SLAM POEMS ARE GIVING ME MORE KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING THAN COLLEGE EVER WILL

  18. i'm literally tearing up thank you so much for sharing this you are incredible

  19. Damn, girl! Preach.
    Seriously, that was awesome for slam/high-fiving, and so much better than my first time when I swallowed my own tongue. Hopefully the first of many!

  20. This is really great & inspirational. I use to struggle with hating how I looked & never fitting in. Finally loving yourself is amazing & this is amazing,

  21. This is amazing <3 asian people are so under represented in every type of media that there is out there

  22. I just found randomly through browsing through youtuber comment sections. Wow, I loved this. I got chills and a little teary-eyed. Thanks for sharing this.

  23. thank you. thank you so much thank you thank you thank you. I have never seen someone that looks like me in fashion magazines. I have never seen Chinese celebrities that are idolized and looked up to. I grew up without someone to look up to, no Chinese role models, no one to make me proud of who I am. I grew up thinking that I was American and couldn't understand why I wasn't being treated like one. I've finally taken steps to embracing who I am. You are helping America towards racial equality for all of the kids out there who never had influential people who looked like them, and I cannot thank you enough.

  24. Such an amazing poem Alison! Can really relate to your words. Just happened to stumble onto your channel while looking up "I love Christmas music" on google and have been watching your vids for the past hour πŸ˜… (So glad I did though!) Your videos are so awesome and fun to watch. I think I've found myself a new favourite YouTuber πŸ˜€ ❀️

  25. HELL YEAH!!!!!! Asian girls are strong. Asian girls are beautiful. We are american, we are proud!!

  26. You identify with what you are on the outside?? Isn't it better to just be the individual that I am instead of finding my identity by fitting in with a group based on outward characteristics?

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