Saturday, March 9, 2013

Who Killed Soek-Fang Sim by Wang Ping

For those that wondered what happened to me in the past few months, the poem below may explain things a bit. 

From the masterful pen of Wang Ping

"Who Killed Soek-Fang Sim"

I’m one of them, Soek-Fang
Already assuming you’re just another
Dumb teacher, dumb scholar, dumb woman
Just because we share a yellow face
A funny accent, and an eternal doubt
Between our eyebrows: are we good enough
Will ever be good enough
In this fruited plain and prairie?

I’m one of them, Soek-Fang
As I sat watching the rumor shroud you--
Poison gas seeping into your breasts
Heart, lungs, liver, spleen, tongue, throat…
Till every drop of blood, every cell of our being
Is filled with this cancerous doubt:
Are we good enough? Will ever be good enough?
In this gas chamber of slander
We die from inside, a lone alien
Under the purple mountain majesties

I’m one of them, Soek-Fang
Filling vita with our bone marrow
Books, honors, awards, student evaluations
Testifying how we’ve changed their lives with ours…
Oh how we toil with our blood and dream
No holiday, no weekend, no vacation
No time for family or children…
Only our vita bigger than this institution
This nation, this civilization…
Only this yearn to be seen
Through your glass of justice
As “good enough equals”
Under the beautiful halcyon skies

I’m one of them, Soek-Fang
Killing you with my silence, my quick
Belief in this whitewashing slander
Even though the truth is just a button away:
You’re a great scholar, a passionate
Teacher, a generous colleague…
You should have been the face of this college, this nation
With your roots in China, your birth in Singapore
Your PhD from London, the only international
Degree as a crown jewel for the global mission
Yet I assumed your incompetence
Because of this internalized belief--
We must toil on our knees for a foothold
From sea to shining sea

I’m breaking through this gas chamber, Soek-Fang
This alabaster tower dimmed by our tears
I refuse to believe this whitewashed lie--
“Not good enough, will never be good enough”
Just because of our yellow face, our black accent
Our brown immigrant feet…refuse to please
On our knees…in our deathbeds
In the name of diversity, human rights
I refuse to swallow the doubt
That kills you and me, sisters and brothers of all colors
Across the amber waves of grain

I’m rising, Soek-Fang
We’re rising, Soek-Fang
If the law doesn’t give us justice
We’ll make it with our mouths
If justice becomes a cover for lies
We’ll burn through it with our eyes
If lies smear our dignity
We’ll paint it with our blood
If the bloody corporate money drowns our right
We’ll bridge it with 7 billion hearts
Across sea to shining sea

Take our hands, Soek-Fang
Fear is not an option, Sisters
Failure is not an option, Brothers
And we are going
From sea to shining sea
Under the beautiful halcyon skies
Over the purple mountain majesties
Across the amber waves of grain
In this fruited plain and prairie
Till we reach the land of the free

Soek-Fang Sim, a Singapore Chinese immigrant, taught International Studies at a Midwest liberal art college. The rumor had it that she was a poor teacher and scholar. She didn’t pass her third-year review and soon died of breast cancer at 35.

Her legacy.

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