When we moved to this part of the country, some of the first kababayans we met sounded concerned we'd found an apartment in Norfolk, and not in Virginia Beach. Perhaps they meant well, even when they said things like You should move as soon as you can so you don't have to live in the ghetto, where there are a lot of blacks. Then there are those who caution their daughters and sons when they begin to date: Anyone really of any race, except yellow or black. So it shouldn’t have been surprising to hear those same daughters and sons say Our parents are not like those Filipinos on the west coast or in Hawaii— they came here as professionals. Perhaps they don’t know what they’re saying; perhaps they can't hear what those words really mean, having been raised in a culture of skin bleaching products where white is held up as right, and the fair-skinned mestizo will always get the office or the acting job over the dark- skinned ones who look like maids or peasants: hampas-lupa, those who crawl like worms along the earth— mud-dwellers, clay compared to the haughty figures whose marble floors and shoes they buff until they shine and won’t acknowledge that the brown reflections they see every day in the mirror are their own.
Poet Luisa A. Igloria (Poetry Foundation web page, author webpage ) was recently appointed Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia (2020-2022). She is Co-Winner of the 2019 Crab Orchard Open Competition in Poetry for Maps for Migrants and Ghosts (Southern Illinois University Press, September 2020). She is the winner of the 2015 Resurgence Prize (UK), the world’s first major award for ecopoetry, selected by former UK poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. She is the author of What is Left of Wings, I Ask (2018 Center for the Book Arts Letterpress Chapbook Prize, selected by former US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey); Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass (Kudzu House Press eChapbook selection for Spring 2015), Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (Utah State University Press, 2014 May Swenson Prize), Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, 2014), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press), and nine other books. She is a member of the core faculty of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University which she directed from 2009-2015; she also teaches classes at The Muse Writers’ Center in Norfolk. In 2018, she was the inaugural Glasgow Distinguished Writer in Residence at Washington and Lee University. When she isn’t writing, reading, or teaching, she cooks with her family, knits, hand-binds books, and listens to tango music.