Letters to a Young Brown Girl and the brown girls who read this

What I wrote two years ago:

May 25, 2018: Manuscript progress, re: ‘some brown girl.’ It’s looking more like “Letters to a Young Brown Girl.”

And I think folks who read it and get it will be the folks who understand why brown girls need to be reminded again and again and again that it is OK to speak your mind, that bravery is hard if not sometimes impossible feeling, that this is a lifelong process of emerging from invisibility, of unlearning all the toxic self-erasing, all the spiritual self-harming that centuries of patriarchy have reinforced upon us.

That this lifelong process to undo these centuries of self-negation and policing, enforcing patriarchal rules is hard work many of us are afraid to do, and that many of us don’t know where to start, if we ever even arrive at a place where we’ve chipped away at some small amount of that fear.

And those who don’t know what I’ve just described above, those folks may read this work as repetitive and unnecessary.

I write this today, as Letters to a Young Brown Girl goes to print this month. It will be in my hands this summer.

I say this a lot, and it’s worth saying again. This is the kind of poetry I have always wanted to write, these long prose poems filled with details and images and language that is Pinay-specific, for Pinays before anyone else.

For brown girls who would know my range of emotions, as a brown girl raised in a culture that erases us and simultaneously demands our obedience and acquiescence.

For brown girls who rebel, who continue to rebel against norms that objectify and belittle us.

For brown girls who have been labeled “bad,” exactly for that rebellion, against family tradition, against self-centered, misogynist boyfriends and romantic partners, and toxic social circles.

For brown girls who continue to rebel against white supremacism and internalized oppression.

For brown girls who have taken the weaponized gender and cultural expectations of white supremacism, and said, No, and said, Fuck You.

For brown girls who do not play nice for the convenience of others.

For brown girls who are afraid of the repercussions, who know this is a hard path, but who push, who rebel, who break free nonetheless. Even when their own community want them to shut the hell up and be nice, they push, and they speak their minds, and they make art, and this art is the kind of art that saves you.

For the past few weeks, months, I have been witnessing on social media a number of young Pinxys asking for the kind of Filipinx authored literature that interrogates, dismantles the María Clara archetype, that navigates kapwa and Filipino core values in this century, in this culture.

I am jumping out of my skin for this work to reach them.

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