Mixed White/Filipino poet Anthony Sutton Accepts that He Is Often Read As “Latina” And Then Interrogates the Basic Notion of “Passing” by Anthony Sutton
Mixed White/Filipino poet Anthony Sutton Accepts that He Is Often Read As “Latina” And Then Interrogates the Basic Notion of “Passing”
PN volunteer Mariel Murray on today's bonus poem: In this poem, Anthony Sutton’s internal monologue scrutinizes Americans’ collective cluelessness on how to start a dialogue on the subjects of identity, gender, and race. The poem feels almost deceptively accessible at first glance. Read it again. And again. A new facet will manifest every time.
There’s how the words “Ma’am” and “Man” are indistinguishable.
If ma’am: Did that parking guard not notice my facial hair?
If man: Was he just really informal?
Am I really this dumb? If so,
let me state the obvious: that a marginalized subject
can be mistaken for a majority subject
means identity is, to varying degrees,
fictional. But here’s what we don’t say:
an antonym of passing is failing.
In this, failure can be broken down two ways:
1) The marginalized subject is seen as themselves.
2) The marginalized subject is seen as a differently marginalized subject. On my last day in Houston, I walked through downtown
when a homeless man crossed the street,
and asked Are you a male or a female?
I said Um. Male?
He turned around disappointed and walked in the opposite direction.
I’m trying to come up with joke about how I should return to Houston
for the homeless man who wanted to be my boyfriend,
but I can’t get it right, so
I’m putting this incident in the pile with the others.
I order them like a tarot deck.
In my major arcana, I was (rightfully) pulled over
for speeding in a school zone.
I remember the line on the ticket for ethnicity.
It read latino.
I wondered if it was possible
to correct this, and how
bad Americans are at confirming that we understand
each other. And how English doesn’t
provide many opportunities to talk
about race and gender simultaneously.
Then I stuffed the ticket in my wallet and drove to work.
Anthony Sutton's recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Midwestern Gothic, Third Coast, Grist, and elsewhere.