I Am Not Brown

I Am Not Brown


I am not brown like I’m supposed to be,

Like your eyes, American, persist

On coloring me;

The brown of mud and foreign coffee,

Some suppose I should be.


I am white and dichotomous.

An American like me,

With hyphens painting brown

To label for expediency, to store

If you will, is easer to peg,

Like neatly packaged Spam.


I am not brown, the hell with that!

Jose or Juan or Pedro reminds you,

Yet they come in white and red and black,

And American just the same.


I am not brown like my friends.

My brother, it is no shame.

My brothers just the same.

Despite my country’s fretting

And myopic glare


I span other worlds.

I claim my stars.

I know my stripes.

I take my tomorrows.

I know the power of my soul

Is greater than your thoughts.


The chaos in my eyes is your perception,

For white and black and brown alike

Are slaves to history’s brush strokes.

Veneer-covered America,

The time is long past Crayolas.

Time to scratch the surface.


I am not brown by your definition.

My embrace of the brown is my business

And my strength lies there as much

As in my whiteness and in my red blood.


J.C. Salazar


J.C. Salazar grew up in Houston, where he still resides, the child of immigrant parents. He earned degrees in English (BA), linguistics (MS), and literature (MA) from the University of Houston and UH-Clear Lake. He also completed doctoral courses in English at UH. J.C. is a lifelong educator and community activist, who loves great stories, language, and writing. Of Dreams & Thorns is his debut novel, inspired by his immigrant family and community. He hopes you love reading it as much as he loved writing it. "states of unitedness" is his collection of poems in which the author expresses the need for all human beings to love one another and our responsibility to care for each other while also striving to reach our full potential.

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