Vivian Reba

Thank You Letters

To the people who commented on the Cheerios commercial a few years back and called the biracial daughter “un-American,”
Thank you for reminding me that even in the 21st century, you still don’t want me here. I am constantly living in limbo, and even if I had somewhere I could “go back” to, I don’t know that I’d be welcomed there either.

To the substitute teacher who called me “exotic” each time I had him,
Thank you for treating me like a foreign species, for making me feel like being everything made me nothing more than an animal. Contrary to popular belief, I am not your special mixed breed lapdog.

To the people who stare when my family goes out to dinner,
Thank you for refreshing the image of the cross that would have burned in their lawn had my parents married 25 years earlier. I was only beginning to wipe the ash from my eyes.

Thank you for shoving knives in my throat that left me speechless, for slipping fishhooks into the corners of my mouth and strangling them into a smile when all I can think to do is let myself break. Thank you for reminding me that “not everyone feels like that, why are you making such a big deal out of it?” Thank you for teaching me that the slap in the face I receive when people look at me either in disgust or in lust should simply prompt me to offer them my other cheek. Thank you for reiterating that it is my fault when I find error in something I cannot control, not those who have conditioned me to hate half of myself. Thank you for making me feel like a sin in my own skin.

Vivian Reba is a first-year student at Boston University, and looking to (eventually) work as a physical therapist. Besides a third grade play, she has never written something with the intent of having it seen. She does hope, however, to publish some of her poetry someday.