A white man sent me an email the other day
With the first words, Nihao.

What is the first thing you see of me, white man? Is it my
Sunflower skin, my black hair? Will you make a comment
About the shape of my eyes next? How is it that
You are so focused on my appearance that you
Fail to ask if I speak Cantonese or Mandarin?
Fail to ask if I grew up here in the US?
Fail to ask if the assimilation that my grandparents
Were forced to choose left any pieces of my
ancestral tongue behind?

You don’t even know if I’m ancestrally Chinese, but
Good guess. Where are you from? From here?
No really, *where are you from?*

You delight in learning languages, you say.
Well, learn the language of trying to fit in
In an all-white town, never quite belonging.
Learn that your every white man impulse is not
Something I want to hear, learn that I am not interested
In your attempts to connect over my lost culture.

Learn the language of silence.