I always believed in the good of people.
I meet them here and there and smile,
offering my hand of friendship, or advice,
or an encouragement because I believe
if you are nice, people can be nice back.
Sometimes, it is hard to hop to the idea
that people are nice because many times,
they can not see past the dark brown eyes,
and dark brown face, and dark brown arms
offering a hug, and offering a shadowed smile
with only the whites of my teeth showing.
Many times, just because people can not hear
the familiar regional accent they are used to
all their lives, people who talk like foreigners
or by reason of deduction or just by way of
outright rudeness of asking if they are from here,
are not worth listening to
because they are not from here.
Not of the same color.
Or not have watched the same
cartoons in their childhood, and have believed in
the same skewed mentality of the
systematized compartmentalization of people
sanctioned by the government every time
they are asked to check the box of which race one belongs to,
then what you have to say does not matter.
It does not matter not because they have nothing else to say.
Or they do not make sense,
but because they can’t get past the color.
Oh, no. Not everyone means it. Some people do it
without thinking. Without being malicious
or coming across as mean. But they do.
The tone of voice can change from comfortable
to an enunciated sentence like they are talking
to a total ignoramus.
They do not talk to their kindergartener this way,
but they do to the Guatemalans,
to the Chinese, to the Mexicans, to the Filipinos,
or to the Vietnamese.
Not everyone thinks you can not get past
the entry-level jobs such as
the strawberry picker,
the potato chip sorter,
the grocer of ethnic wares,
or the mopper at the back of a dingy fast food place.
If you are lucky, you can open your own restaurant,
but only within the confines of your culture.
Because some can’t get past your color.
I always believed people can be good, and decent, and kind.
But someone told me, this is not true.
Someone told me that you have
to work hard to be decent, to be good, to be kind.
It is sickly funny that these never come naturally.
What comes naturally are the things
that make people sad.
If we ask those who we think are different from us
about their struggles, their frustrations,
their challenges, we can be surprised that
we have so much in common.
Same goes with the color of the blood
beneath our different skins.
I think I heard this somewhere.
I have said it long enough that I believe in it,
just like the gullibility of my unwavering hope
that people can be good. But most are not.
It is a challenge to live in a life not my own.
Not in a pretending-to-be-other-than-me type of life,
but in a life of transplantation where this plant can never belong
even if it believes with all its heart to embrace the change, trying to produce seeds
always believing, always having that steadfast hope that
there is still good in people.