When you tell me to hold my tongue, that this voice carries too much spice, the flavor that some will find…too bitter, too sour, too…offensive (unpalatable)
When you tell me to remove something from my wall, my timeline, the line of my time, my life line because I will attract unwanted attention
When you tell me to stay home, on my own, instead of participating in a protest, in a fight that I don’t have a choice in fighting

You are silencing me, mom
You are placing a hand over my mouth as I stare at you with tears in my eyes and shoulders heavy with impotence

The same hands that as a child I saw as the most powerful
        Most selfless
        Most unwavering
I now see as participants in my oppression

I understand you have fear
        I feel it too
        We feel it everyday
But my silence is more resonant than any word I can ever say
This silence speaks volumes, and I have been silent for what feels like an eternity

Mom, if you speak up about racism in your workplace, you’ll be fired
        But when I speak about racism in your workplace, there’s a fire within me,
and you tell me not to fight fire with fire, but somehow these flames will
cleanse, they will heal, they’ll envelop me, and the phoenix that will rise from
the ashes will be as fierce as the fiery tongue that never learned to “just, deal
with it”, mom

If you tell the racist policeman, in broken English, that the car ignored the stop sign and slammed into your side, he will tell you to shut up with hate in his eyes and a ticket for passing a stop sign that you never even had

If dad speaks up about the state trooper that selectively stops the cars on the highway, and that brown men like him, with cement streaked shirts dripping with sweat, are always given the field sobriety test, a ticket, and if they aren’t “respectful” a few shots to the arm, the leg, the back, the whatever they can attack

When I speak about this police brutality, I am breaking the silence where they thrive, where they hide, where they comfortably resign

You tell me my actions will not come to fruition
You tell me my actions are far too small to make a difference when there is a million
People dying.

But my words are fighting for you, mom
They are fighting the silence that I know you cannot break because your life depends on it

My words are fighting for you, dad
They are fighting for my brother
They are fighting the injustices that you two must bear every day as brown men driving down the highway to feed your family, to make a living, to keep surviving

So yes, my voice might carry too much spice, my syllables might trip on the accents that my Spanish tongue is so accustomed to
But my job is not to make comfortable those who can’t choke down the flavor of my words
And yes, my timeline might attract some unwanted attention, mostly those “all lives matter”s from my aunt, from the old white woman next door, or from my fourth grade teacher
        But mom, I already attract unwanted attention. From the simple fact that my
last name is Torres and not White, Smith, or Miller I already attracted
attention. Especially when my last name is the only one that has a rolled r in a sea of Johnsons, sons, sons of Dartmouth. And I’m the daughter that doesn’t quite know how to keep her mouth shut.
And no, I will not stay home, I will not be silenced, and I will not participate in my own oppression
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