I saw a tumblr post saying how it’s a unique kind of torture to Google recipes from your own culture. To measure out ingredients for another family’s family recipe because you never learned yours. And sure, you can ask your aunt to teach you, to write it down, but the writing is a loss in itself because every single woman before you stretching back to the dawn of humanity had known it without ever having to write it down, and you’re the one who broke the chain. And I know it’s not my fault my grandmother died before I was born so she could never teach me, and that my dad grew up in a whitewashed world that made him feel ashamed of his culture - as though he had to bury it, pray that his child’s skin would be more white than brown so that she would never endure the marginalization he felt - and I don’t blame him, not even a little bit, but his prayer worked and my skin is white and how can I be a brown person when I’m white. My cultural clothes feel like a costume, an appropriation, and I have to tell myself over and over that I belong here, I belong here, I belong. And I can see my family’s love for me in their faces, their brown faces, all of their brown faces looking into my white one, trying telling me I belong here, I belong here, I belong. And I’m trying to cook for myself, make flatbread with flour and water and nothing but those two ingredients, and mine’s too thick and it won’t puff up and I can’t shape it in my hands like my aunts do and its lumpy and tearing and it tastes all wrong because it’s white fucking flour and I’m burning my fingers on the pan as I flip the bread with my bare hands because using a spatula would just be another betrayal and my fingers are burnt because I wanted to feel close to my grandmother in this tiny way and I had to use a spatula anyway. I have to learn my own language out of a book because this society shamed by dad into silence. I sweat every time I try to pronounce one of the six words I know because I know I’m pronouncing it wrong, and I shrink when my dad corrects me and I break when the quiet realization hits us both that the alphabet of my native language is foreign in my mouth. I don’t understand the religion inside the book my grandmother prayed with every single day. It feels wrong when I wish to be a part of a culture, this culture, that hurts women, hurts my family, hurt my dad so badly and it feels wrong when I criticize a culture that barely even feels like mine. My dad almost never talks about his parents, and years ago while driving he mentioned the singing, the wailing at my grandmothers’ funeral and I laughed, I LAUGHED, thinking of how strange the wailing-type singing I’d heard at weddings and the like was and I don’t think I’ve ever hated myself more than when I think of that memory. I told a girl at college that I was mixed and she spoke to me excitedly in our shared ancestral language and I stood with my mouth open and she asked “Did you understand what I said?” and I shook my head no and the light in her eyes went away. I was walking at a wedding wearing a beautiful orange outfit, a hand-me-down from my brown family, and I looked in the window and saw my reflection, white feet and hands and neck and face, and I wondered how many times I would have to burn my fingers or memorize recipes or practice my pronunciation over and over again, mouthing the words to myself at night, before I would actually believe that I belonged here.