humiliation day

it
is
july
first

the day when people gather under
glimmering, shimmering fireworks,
candescent coalescent explosions
of joy
awe

&
childhood..

but
in the quiet of my mind
the calm hum in the ambience of my thoughts
there sits an ivory lady dressed in jade;
behind a gilded red curtain

she says,
"can you hear me? i am your ancestor,
	the ethereal phantom of your past,
		the beginning of our ancient bloodlines...

i'm here because though you would call this day 'canada day'
there is a history that no one will tell you,
but here in the quiet of mind you can remember
that this used to be our humiliation,
that the happy and proud people you share this day with
were once banished from voting,
separated by marriage,
forced to pay two-months =
two
YEARS'
salary...

so grandma could eat,
so auntie could learn,
so great uncle would be able to come
(eventually)
to
ca na da,
	and pull rickshaws..

today was once called 'dominion day'
and was celebrated by the white state that would
have your hands for railroad planks,
and feet for steel wheels,
but not allow you to be equal..."


so today i march on
waving a dragon flag
under the golden sun...

and under the night sky,
painted in pastel purple and red
in my heart i remember:

that a battle unfinished
is a battle not lost




and not won.


July 1st, 1923 was the first “Humiliation Day” as it was called by Chinese-not-Canadians when the Dominion of Canada enacted the Chinese Exclusion Act – which prevented many Chinese people to immigrate. Many married couples and children were separated for years, decades, and some never reunited in their lifetimes. They are the never-knew-their-dad people and the paper sons (immigrants who were only related on forged documents). Though my own family never paid the Chinese Head Tax, it still prevented my dad and Grandma and Great Aunt from coming to Canada for five years, meaning Grandpa was only an imaginary person to my dad for his first years of life. I choose today to remember this shame and how it continues to affect us in the present day.

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2 thoughts on “humiliation day

  1. I absolutely love this. The spacing used for “to
    ca na da,
    and pull rickshaws..”

    The last few llines.
    All so perfect.

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