Hailey Cheng

Hailey Cheng is a teen poet, actor, advocate, and lover of the arts! She loves to create and empower through storytelling-- whether that is onstage or on paper. She wants to bring light to issues that affect minorities and hopes to provoke change in her community.

Hailey is a student at Arcadia High School.

Her poem, I Wish I Could Tell Her won 3rd place in the 1st Arcadia Poetry Slam, sponsored by the Arcadia Performing Arts Center.

I Wish I Could Tell Her

There I was and I stood
Surrounded by laughter
I thought everything was good.
I wish I could tell you
That you were misled
Those words you heard
Shouldn’t be said.


They take their hands all together in a crowd
And stretch their eyes like bands
And call me “ching-chong”.
Yet I still stand and giggle
So I can belong


I wish I could tell you
You shouldn’t laugh along
Those words you heard
Those words are wrong.


Later, behind me in class, I hear some chat
2 girls ask me
“Where is your straw hat?”
My cheeks turn red which I try to mask
But I wonder why they ask me that


I wish I could tell you
You shouldn’t stay silent
Those words you heard
Those words are violent.


The boys say mean things too.
They laugh at me in the hallway
And follow me in a crew
They wave and say “hey”
Yell “your chest is too small”
“She’s an Asian anyway!
It’s a fact after all.”
My eyes fill with tears and I start to bawl.


I wish I could tell you

You shouldn’t start to cry

Those words you heard

All of them are lies.

But still, I start to look at myself differently.

In my reflection, I see my eyes

and wonder why

I don’t look like other girls I so glamorize?

“Chinky”. “Ugly”. “Yellow”.

That’s what they call me.

Still, I change the way I treat people

I stop talking to my own family

Ignore them, because speaking my language

Is now shameful to me.

Soon, I forget

Forget my own language

Something that is a part of my family

Something that’s been a part of me for so long

I now abandon.

Maybe now I’m normal

Maybe now I fit in

Because the roots that once defined me

Were finally out of my skin.

I wish I could tell you

You were misled.

I wish I could tell you

You shouldn't laugh along.

I wish I could tell you

You shouldn’t stay silent.

I wish I could tell you

You shouldn’t start to cry.

I wish I could tell you.

And there I was, and I stood

Surrounded by the laughter, violence, and lies

That tore me apart

That made myself feel worthless

That destroyed my sense of culture

That took me away from my identity

That ripped a gaping hole between the people I loved the most.

No matter how many times I wish I could tell you

I never get that part of me back.

 

(c)2018 Hailey Cheng

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