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The Bells of Diversity
“My name is Jee-ii like Jedii from Starwars”,
She clarifies in a thick Aussie accent:
Her new identity, changed from before.
Rafters stare at her unruly curls and eyes.
Yet strong she paddles down Truckee river,
Laughing at her own jokes despite the sighs
From rafters unable to smile at her humor.
Jee-ii’s spirit ran free on the rushing rapids
Trying to forgive those unable to understand her.
“Jung-gun Kim, Biology, Post-doctoral Scholar.”
“Jung-GUN? Ha, what a name! Where from?”
“Korea, and how much for Bus, one, two dollar?”
He rushes to check his experiment at the lab.
To check the results of his long-awaited dream,
A dream born in Korea but requiring a Cab.
Despite no driver license, green card, or “life”
Jung-gun felt free with gloves and a pipette
Embracing traditional simplicity without strife.
“Hi I’m Kavita” read her bold blue nametag
“I’m lost, please help me” read her worried face
Working at Macy’s for money became a drag
Organizing clothes but wondering what’s next,
Now her dear son was gone, and her life was back.
But 19 years ago, before being “Mom” in the west,
She was venerated “Manager” in India, in the east,
She was free to move back east or stay in the west,
Yet was confused over her place, to say the least.
“Mariah’s Hair ‘N Nails”, plus snacks on the house.
Mariah, a gorgeous Latina, was “wide and lovin’ it”
According to the lying words on her cheap blouse.
Underneath, she was struggling with Obesity that
Had plagued her family and doctors warned her of.
She had fancy hair and nails to avoid the label “fat”,
Which meant ugly, socially unaccepted, and worthless.
Beautifying others and feeling beautiful freed Mariah,
Although she couldn’t compete with that size 4 dress.
“Klaus is my name, and playing violin is my game”
Klaus used to say as a boy prodigy in Vienna, Italy.
Now in Carnegie Hall, he reached international fame.
But a love, other than violin, was missing in his life,
Never would he feel such passion with someone else.
He could never be a father or a husband to a wife.
Klaus longed for more than games of music,
Playing the violin was his epitome of freedom.
But he needed more to be, finally forever free.
Jee-ii, Jung-gun, Kavita, Mariah, Klaus are free.
Individually, free amongst various things:
Things that set them apart and help them be
Different, Unique, without being an outcast.
Yet these things can morph into other people:
Different, Unique, people that will outlast
Things like violins, rapids, and beauty.
Jee-ii, Jung-gun, Kavita, Mariah, and Klaus,
May each be a pariah with radical differences.
But if they join hands, becoming a diverse medley,
They will each be a pariah amongst the pariahs,
In which case they aren’t pariahs at all.
Instead, amongst other diverse people,
They are free to be diverse individuals,
Without fear of being outcasted or lambasted.
Today, the diverse medley is America:
Where diversity means freedom
To be true to your acquaintances, your enemies,
Your bosses, your friends, and yourself.