Intro to Women's Studies 2010

etsu: 2011-2014

When I Was Growing Up/ Nellie Wong

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In this poem, Wong is demonstrating white privilege. As a child she can see through media and experience that being white was a good thing. So in this poem she “began to wear imaginary pale skin,” by excelling at academics and embracing  the American culture. When she did this she gets so caught up in American society that she forgets almost who she is and becomes ashamed of others who looked like her. In the end she resolves by pretty much saying that she can’t change who she is and that she is now comfortable with who she is.

I really enjoyed this poem. I liked the simplicity and honesty of it. One part that particularly struck me is, “When I was growing up. I felt dirty. I thought that god made white people clean and no matter how much I bathed, I could not change…”. I imagine that for a young adult that this identity issue must have been hard. That to feel inferior because of the way you look, your skin, is difficult to look past. This poem is another reminder that I take for granted that I never had to deal with not being the norm.

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