Good Almost Never Means Smart
by Karisma Rodriguez

You made a "model minority" out of me
_______With your, 'Tienes que ir a la escuela,
_______Y tener una carrera.'
_______No boys ever. And definitely not
_______Until you graduate college.
_______English, English, English,
Mi?ja. You have to be the exception
To babies and welfare and stupid men
Who leave. Don't let them get you, Princesa.
You?re too good for them.

_______You turned up the radio and sang,
_______Danced with a knowing smile,
Because eso es la vida, and what else
Could you do? Two children and no skills
Meant you were good for nothing
Except us, your hijitos preciosos,
And because of us,
You were still loud and proud,
_______And so determined,
_______You made me quiet.

_______When the Puerto Rican girl
_______In sixth grade asked me what I was,
_______She didn't believe my answer.
_______"Girl, if you've got some
_______Puerto Rican in you,
_______What are you so shy about?"
_______She was one of those
_______That you could see wearing the flag
_______On her forehead and dancing
_______Like it ain't no thing to be so so proud.
_______And you'd look at her like she was foolish,
_______But somehow you felt like the fool.

_______But I am proud,
_______See, here's my Boricua flag!
_______I keep it neatly folded and tucked away
_______In the safest corner of my being.
_______I just don't want to show it to anybody,
_______I don't want anybody to see it,
_______Because I know they'll wrinkle it,
Mess up and destroy it.
I have to hide it because if they see
How glorious and how rich our Puerto Rico,
Our "rich port," really is,
They'll try to occupy it again,
And all of its beautiful children?
They will occupy you and they will occupy me.
She didn't understand
Because no one could occupy her.

_______My pride, my pride
_______Was forced to hide behind
_______Straight A's at San Diego City Schools
And sports well-played my talents put on display.
Because I would bring you home five A's
_______And you'd say, what's with the B+?

I learned not to answer questions
In school (If I spoke, they'd know I was faking,
Wasn't really smart, just good), I listened and held still.
_______And when my homework was done,
_______I'd ask for a refill -- extra credit, please!

_______Wow, you are the smartest Hispanic girl
I've ever met! No offense, but you know
How dumb those cho-lohs are, he said with
His blonde hair and green eyes, and I was
Too mesmerized. I wanted him to be right.
They're so loud and I don't know
What they're so proud about; they're all poor!
He laughed. I didn't. Don't worry,
You're quiet, and good, and smart,
And that's what I like about you.

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