Project for Open Voices: “I will not be stretched”

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The Thrill is proud to feature personal narratives courtesy of the Project for Open Voices. Today’s essay is titled “I will not be stretched,” and was authored anonymously. POV is always accepting new submissions, so if you want to share your story, email openvoicessubmissions@gmail.com. If you would like to remain anonymous you can send us your response by signing into a second email account:projectopenvoices@gmail.com (password: kenyoncollege).

I will not be stretched

Molded and broken and spun around until all my thoughts are chased out of my head
I refuse to let you turn me over and shake my essence out of the holes in my body
I will not be stretched
To fit into whatever idea, role, caricature you have in mind
I refuse
Refuse to be your martyr
To be the example for my race
To show society that, OH SHIT! brown girls can be educated too
That we can walk and talk and carry ourselves just like our white classmates
Because I don’t look like you, I must work my ass off to prove my worth to you
Prove that I deserve to be here
Because I have potential
Because I was lucky
Because I made it
I refuse
I refuse to elevate myself above other brown women just so I can prove your stereotypes wrong
I refuse
Because I am not your teacher, your martyr, your rubber band
I am your equal
You cannot stretch me, sculpt me, stamp me
Burden me with responsibilities that create distance between us
You. Cannot. Ignore. Me
Because I refuse to fit into your expectations
I refuse to keep on pretending that I am not a human being
With the same wants and needs and desires as you
I refuse
To fit into your extremes
To either let my ethnicity consume my life
Or set myself apart from my brown origins and be an example for others
I refuse
To hold myself accountable for your goals
To end oppression, or to ignore it or to chastise your fellow white man
You cannot make me the “other” any longer
You cannot make me more or less than any other human being
I will not let you
I will not be stretched
I simply refuse

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