The Names You Call Me

Wang Ping

You call me “Criminal,”

as you cheat, assault, and rob the world blind.

You call me “Shit-hole,”

as you foul the Earth with your lies, runoff, toxic smoke.

You call me “Welfare,”

as I work day and night, no vacation, no complaints.

You call me “Thief,”

as you dodge tax dollars in billions.

You call me “Rapist,”

as you grab my Mija by her genitals.

You call me “Animal,”

when ants and bees know more discipline than you.

You call me “Murderer,”

as you snatch my children, freeze them to death in cages.

You call me “Violence,”

as you shock and awe with drones, Mother of All Bombs.

You call me “Lazy,”

as I build your roads, railways, factories on my knees.

You call me “Not Good Enough,”

as my awards pile higher than your white rage.

You call me “Slum,”

cooking, gardening, cleaning in your bloody mansions.

You call me “Marx,”

igniting hope and equality among the wretched.

You call me “Worst,”

as students nominate me year after year for awards.

You call me “Whore,”

breasts laden with milk, buttocks curving like the Amazon.

You call me “Terror,”

my arms taller than the Andes, thighs smashing your shackles.

You call me “Mao,”

freeing China from your opium wars and colonial lootings.

You call me “Dog,”

“No Chinese Allowed” in Shanghai’s Concession Parks.

You call me “Che,”

whistling Amazon warriors from my jungle breasts.

You call me “Monster,”

pulling the poor, the sick and the homeless out of the muck.

You hunt me with ICE,

troops, Coast Guard, Proud Boys and white supremacists.

You call me “Uppity,”

spending millions in court to put a Chink in the Chink place.

You send students to destroy,

enraged for praising black, brown, yellow poets.

You shun me as the “Pariah,” 

ban me from campus for life.

You build the Wall,

blocking my path to cross, work, speak, write, publish, live.

You call me “cavalier, liar, paranoid,

renegade, crazy bitch, detached from reality . . .”

You call me “Mandela,”

Twenty-seven years in jail, still singing with dignity.

You cut my veins, opening lava of rumbling spirit.

You shackle my feet, and I gnaw through the hole with teeth. You slit my throat, and I summon songs with dance.

You kill my birds, and I build a temple with feathers and stardust.

You can kill my birds, slit my throat, shackle my feet, bury me alive, cut my veins, block my path, hunt me down with your drones, lawyers and lies . . . my body is not my body . . . my name is not my name . . . I belong to every Mija and Mijo, to the Himalayas, Andes, Rockies, to the Nile, Amazon, Yangtze, Mississippi, to the four seas . . . call me your Monster, Terror, Animal . . . call me Mao, Marxist, Che, Mandela . . . names blown, blowing with the wind

. . . but nothing can change this: I’m your Amazon, your Everest, your Pacific . . . I’m your Sky and Earth . . . I’m your parents on the road . . . your children in cages . . . named or nameless . . . I’m Truth that defies your lies . . . I’m Conscience that jolts you awake in a cold sweat . . . I’m Poetry that sails hope across the sea and desert. 

Born in Shanghai and confined to a farm during the Cultural Revolution, Wang Ping (she/her) eventually came to the U.S., earned a doctorate at New York University, and has had a career of writing, teaching, and activism in Minnesota. Reprinted from “My Name Is Immigrant” © 2020 Wang Ping, by permission of Hanging Loose Press.