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Watch a video of Taylor Johnson reading "Blasian."

January 2012

2012 Martin Luther King, Jr. Writing Awards

Poetry: High School

Second Place (Tie)

Taylor Johnson,
9th grade, Pittsburgh CAPA

When I was in
4 th grade, I
liked to be alone.
Hugging my knees
tight, pretending.
The boys,
wrestling on the brick,
the girls, in their corners
giggling and blushing
behind tight hands.
Me, the observer.
Legs dangling from the
I noticed that, all
the black girls
were huddled together.
Then I look to the other side
of the playground.
All the white girls were
also together, playing with
sidewalk chalk.
This was the first time
I became aware of
the difference between
little black
girls &
little white
They taught us in school,
that Martin Luther King
saved us. That he
segregation. As much as I want to believe
that, I couldn’t.

In art class, later that
we were learning our
cool colors.
A new girl came in our class,
the principal by her side,
and her head held high.
Her skin was brown like
a toasted almond.

They put her right
next to me.
She had no supplies,
she just listened that period.

As the bell was ringing,
I was putting my things into my Bratz
she came over to me and asked,
“Are you Chinese or something?
I thought Chinese people didn’t go here.”
My little heart pounded
in my chest.
I shook my head so
hard at her.
Every bone in me
wanted to not be Chinese.
I felt myself on the verge of
tears, washing out of my
Chinese eyes.
I tried opening them bigger,
as big as they could go
just to prove to her.
I would not be Chinese.

I was always told I had
lighter skin than most people.
I asked my friend,
if I looked Chinese, and she told me
“You aren’t Chinese? I thought you
were Blasian!”

What is Blasian?
Was that a real race?
I didn’t want to be Blasian.
I wanted to be black,
like all the other
little black

View the complete list of the 2012 Martin Luther King, Jr. Writing Award winners.

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