I DON’T WRITE ABOUT RACE, by June Gehringer

June Gehringer is a mixed-race trans poet from Omaha. She is a co-founder of tenderness, yea and her work has been published by Paper Darts, Barrelhouse, Metatron, Spy Kids Review, and others. She tweets @unlovablehottie and she loves you, like, a lot.

I don’t write about race

for Daphne
after El Pearson

I don’t write about race.

I don’t talk about race.

My white friends are very supportive.

My white friends perform allyship on Facebook.

My white friends apologize, but neither
as often nor as profusely as
they should.

I hide my legs from the sun and
in the shower, they blend into
the off-white
off the walls.

I hide my legs from the
sun and in the
shower I try
to tell myself:
I’m not one of them.

The day after I graduated college, I took my white
father and my brown mother to the World
War II Museum and we sat
in silence as we read
that the Japanese killed 20
million Chinese people during World War


(How many times have I been asked if I was Japanese?)

My brown mother and
I already knew this. I wonder
what my father knows.

I don’t write about race,
I write about erasure.

I go to a bar with my white
sister and my brown brother. Someone
tells us that we all look
the same, and I wonder
what that means
for me, a white-brown
girl with an uncut
dick. But then I
that I’ve heard this before, that
we all look the same.

I don’t write about race,
I write about gender,
I once killed a cis white man,
and his first name
was me.

In Washington D.C., while walking
through the National Mall, I hear a white
teenager joyfully screaming with her
white friends.

In Washington D.C. I am terrified
to speak, I am terrified to
whisper. I write
poems on my phone instead.

I don’t write about race,
I write about silence.

My white friends talk
about race. They say
all the right
words. I say

I read poems about white
people to rooms full of white
people and they laugh
like they’re in on the joke, they
laugh like they didn’t
make me need
to write these poems.

In a poem I ask
white people everywhere
to please go
home. My white
audience laughs and
I wonder how much
of me is laughing
with them. I wonder
if my father is laughing

I don’t write about race,
I write about erasure.
I write only, and always
about myself.

i think about closing my laptop but i don’t.

i haven’t known what day it was in several days which seems impossible.

i don’t know how to relate to people who spend fewer than ~4 hours a day on the internet and I’m not sure how to feel about that.

sitting across the street from a flower shop and watching people stop and try to pick out flowers and imagining who they’re buying flowers for and hoping that none of them are dying but knowing that some of them are.

Marisa says that they’d like to open up a flower shop and I agree that running a flower shop sounds exciting and comforting as a possible way of life. each day i find myself wondering why i have chosen to live the way i live. i consider this briefly, before continuing to make the same choices over and over again.

marisa is eating something from a food truck. there was a parade today. there are puerto rican flags everywhere. i keep wishing el was here. the sun is hiding behind the buildings now and everything is gold and brown and wildly beautiful.

i feel a strange sense of inspiration which i think is coming from the sheer volume of human lives i have witnessed today. there are so many yellow and black and brown bodies still alive and occasionally enjoying a happy moment on a good day in the vicinity of a flower shop where nobody has killed us yet.

i walk by a stream of water flowing from a burst hydrant and a mother carefully steps around the largish moving puddle and her child jumps in the puddle several times and exuberantly to the mother’s smiling indifference.

there are people living, everywhere. there are people living here. “life has never seemed so possible” i tweet. i think about closing my laptop, but i don’t.

in a coffeeshop in brooklyn trying to find an original or interesting way to write about being in a coffeeshop in brooklyn.

i keep feeling that i’m living vicariously through myself. i get the vague sense that i’m doing what i’m doing in order to be able to tell myself that i did it. i love bragging about my friends but i don’t have any friends so instead i brag about myself to myself.

i want to thank you all, profusely, for writing “FUCK DONALD TRUMP” in sharpie on the walls of every bathroom stall across the country. in a very serious way, i think there’s a kind of poetry in that, a real and meaningful dialogue going on.

savannah, georgia looks like what i imagined new orleans would look like before i lived in new orleans. I’m wondering if, years from now, when i try to remember new orleans, i’ll see savannah in my head. I’m not sure where our ideas of places come from. nothing is unforgettable.