Poets logo

Before the Rice Plant Becomes

This poem is about personal experiences with colourism and cultural alterity as a Southeast Asian-Canadian. It is apart of a series called rice plants don't belong in a land of prairies; a series which highlights the social issues within the diaspora.

By Lenora HuỳnhPublished 4 years ago 1 min read
Huynh, Lenora. before the rice plant becomes, 2019. Film.

There is an undeniable parallel between the history of rice and skin colour. It reminds us that darkness equates to filth, and this is stems from classism. Brown rice had a history of being cheap pig food. Evidently, it became unfathomable for humans to consider eating something meant for a farm animal.

White rice symbolizes wealth.

Fair skin symbolizes wealth.

It implies that the woman has never had to work hard. An outdated perspective of course, but the notion that fair skin is desirable, is still nevertheless alive and well.

As a Southeast Asian, I have been told many times, that women should have fair skin in order to be beautiful. When I tanned during the summer, I would often get snarky remarks from aunties.Although, whenever I had lighter skin, I received discomforting compliments from East Asians... of praise and surprise.

"You're lucky that you look East Asian" is something they usually say.

It breaks my heart to think that the colour of my skin determines my value. At the end of the day, I'm a just Southeast Asian woman with melanin in my skin, and that will never change.

before the rice plant becomesthe rice we eat,has natural and brown skin.we might as well consider ourselvesgermaphobic.the skin it was born with,is stripped to purity.we believe it is more delicious,but is it any more nutritious?yet i have been told many times,that it does not matter.consuming brown rice is a sign:povertyis not prosperity;the colour white is this entity.and that will never bethe epitome of me.

social commentary

About the Creator

Lenora Huỳnh

Lenora is a second generation Vietnamese-Canadian poet, artist, and visual culture major. In her spare time, she loves to watch Criterion Collection films and visit art galleries.

Follow me @lenorahuynh

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2023 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.