Pure Americana

By Serena Suson

Art by Sophie Williams


My blood is pure

I boast my aspect

To my family and my peers

Take turns showing off my skin

I once did anything to whiten

Yet I’ve never visited

That place that holds my name

The grounds of our estate

The place of which my parents speak

The islands of my fathers’ graves

I am brown

But cannot speak my mother tongue

I am no one

I am American

Underneath the flagship of this shining sun



I know history

But can’t make sense of mine

The conflicts

That razed my people

Into independence

I only know the redcoats

In three years covered

The Continental Congress

In every bloodbound book I own


’76 will always mean more than ’46

My home will be a melting pot

Of ingenuity

We’ll engineer representation

In our books and in our movies

Forgetting it was a white man

Who promised peace and subjugated

When he rolled up on the beach

But to me

MacArthur’s just a nuisance

And I believe in something far away

There’s no more imperialism

Nothing colonial

In my identity

Though the armistice has ceased

Whatever way I see it

There’s always been a freedom

A freedom to the seas



My blood is clear

Prime for pollution

That my moldering will cause

Multiculturalism's a chance to prove

I am more than what I am

Yet I miss to know

Clearly what I was

I am lost

In the suburban-ly mundane

Nights of mac and cheese

Dinner with green beans

Football games

And spelling bees

There must be more to me

Than this

But Tagalog, hindi

Balat, pancit

I’m a foreigner birthed in white

Who can’t translate history


My country ‘tis of thee

Sweet land of liberty

I am of you

And you are of me

The bleakness of my nature

To which I kneel

I’m to forget

I laud without regret

Dulce et decorum —

Fight on, boys!

For I see that flag and weep

It means I am no one

It means I am American

Underneath the red, white, and blue

I am no one

I am American

I embrace the greenness of this setting sun.