Marginalized Voices

Marginalized Voices: a poem + playlist
By Vivian Liao

[Image description: ink on an old parchment scroll reads ‘DEAR WHITE PEOPLE, STOP IT.’]
Art By Viyanka

Content/trigger warnings: abuse mention, r*pe mention

Letters are supposedly a thing of the past. Not this one. This letter reflects current issues - ones maybe you weren’t fully aware of. This one you’ll want to read.
Dear white people,
This is a letter to you, addressing all the times you’ve erased, appropriated, whitewashed, and inferiorized our culture.

Dear white people,
Before you take items from our culture as tokens for you to wear in your hair, or put on your body
please remember that these were things we were oppressed for
You can’t rebrand oppression
and turn it into a trend
It goes much deeper than a statement dress, or a chic hairstyle
These are symbols of our culture.
And they are not yours to take.

Dear white people,
Before you make fun of us for our accents or our clothes, remember that we didn’t have the same privileges growing up as you did
Many of us had to start over,
learn a new language,
strive to find jobs in a world that constantly chooses the white man, even though the competition is his equal.

Dear white people,
Before you cast yourselves as black, asian, latinx, or any other person of colour, please remember that there are people of colour struggling to find careers in the acting world.
Also -
Don’t just write POC characters in your blockbuster movies as nothing more than the punchline of a joke.
Our personalities are not something you can generalize and trivialize
and stick onto your two-dimensional plotlines.

Dear white people,
When you include people of colour in advertisements, don’t do it just because you think it’ll help sell your product.
Don’t cast us under the pretense of promoting diversity.
When what you’re really promoting is the exploitation of coloured people
for your precious sales.
Diversity isn’t some gimmick,
and our ethnicity is not a label you can sell.

Dear white people,
You pride yourselves so much on justice.
So please stop letting your criminals get away because they “have a really promising future” or “because it would damage their career”
What about the victims, what about their futures,
what about all those people who take your word for it? You, the judge, are the symbol of justice, after all.
By letting your criminals get away, you’re implying that it is a pardonable crime to abuse, harass, rape another person
Dear judge, tell me this -
How can we feel trust and safety in a world where equity is corrupt, and the law becomes a system based on skin colour to give favours to some and punishments to others, both undeserved?

Dear white people,
Before you think of all LGBT persons as white,
remember that it was the efforts of two trans women of colour who first sparked the LGBT movement.
Please stop pretending that LGBT people of colour don’t exist.
When you talk about lesbians, gays, bisexuals, or transgenders in the media, don’t only speak of people that fit your so-called mould.
Your “support” doesn’t mean anything if it’s selective.

Dear white people,
Stop associating hooked noses and dark skin with “evil” characters
Our features aren’t villainous;
before you put them onto your “bad guys”, remember that there are POC children who need role models
and don’t want to grow up learning that their ethnic features
are marks of evil.

Dear white people:
Please stop erasing our culture. We’re here too, and we’re proud to bear our respective heritages. Most importantly, we aren’t willing to be inferiorized. We’ll always be here, and we’ll always be visible. Even when you refuse to see us.


POC Empowerment Playlist:

Say It Loud - I’m Black and I’m Proud // James Brown
Baltimore // Prince ft. Eryn Allen Kane
F.U.B.U. // Solange
Demolicion // Los Saicos
Bantu Knots and Boudoir // Nicotine’s Famous Honey
Ascension // Gorillaz ft. Vince Staples

[Image description: scan of song titles written in sharpie on a vintage black and white magazine spread. The scan is layered on a background of a soft, closed, glittery eye.]