An open letter to Eugene, Oregon:
“Perhaps the signs are there with good (white) intentions?”
To place a sign in your door, through the glass, so you can see: “I’m welcome.” “I’m not.”
To let others know–others who check “other,” who don’t look like you, who frighten you–that there is no need to feel fear of you. Your doors are open for us.
You stand with us. You don’t. You don’t know what it feels like.
And what of the places that do not hang signs?
Why are we looking for signs again?
We have forgotten we have always looked for signs.
Were we always so explicit?
The landlady placed a “No Trespassing” sign up around a tree since someone took shelter outside: hidden behind a shrub, pressed against the house. The landlady had a fence built so someone would stop shitting in the piles of leaves, outside squatting near the house.
I called for help and asked for light to flood the darkest nights. We can change the lights from white to red to green.
I am awake and slip from history’s pages
I am awake and move my brown body from place to place.
A white Buddhist town where I experienced rape and racism.
A bustling segregated big city where my family, las mujeres, experienced rape and erasure.
As the years go on, I realize we have to search for signs that say, you can place your body here. “Go ahead. No one will hurt you. No one will treat you less than. Someone will be with you soon.”
Once, I tried to fill my water cup at a bar in Eugene, OR. I was downtown on a Friday night and a young white man who hovered around the water jug, spoke to me with hate speech. I couldn’t believe my ears. My eyes saw a scared white boy. Why are white boys hating or in fear of brown female bodies?
I am awake and yet. There is a feeling: I’m dreaming. I see my Gram. She is always with me. Gram, how can we set the clocks back? How can we take backwards steps at a time like this?
I’ve always said, I want to go home. And now, I know what it means.