I remember going to those parties and seeing a lot of folks who looked like my cousins, my mom, and my Titos, and my Titas. Like, they all looked very familiar and that was nice, but I always felt like an outsider. I don’t know any Tagalog. I can’t speak any other language other than English, and it makes me feel very deficient. So, I was always left out of conversations when I was at those parties. I wasn’t really in the cultural know. Because all I know is growing up and being raised here. In elementary school I had maybe two Asian classmates, and one was from kindergarten until second grade and then the other one was from fourth grade until sixth grade.

It was really weird because I didn’t, I didn’t notice it as ‘I was different’, that my brother and I were so different. It did happen at some point in school where I had that moment of Oh, I really am different. I think it was a math lesson with how many kids have blue eyes versus how many had brown eyes. I looked around going, Wait, we’re the ones with brown eyes? This, this is telling.

When I was younger I used to say a lot of racist jokes because I thought that was what you had to do to assimilate and to make people feel comfortable. For so long, I catered to other people’s comforts. For a long time, I went by the nickname Remi in school because teachers, substitute teachers, other students had a hard time remembering my name. Just generally, “Remelisa is a mouthful,” and I thought, Is it?

portrait of remelisa

I am….

…a very creative and thoughtful person who just wants everyone to be open to listening to other people’s stories but be able to share their stories too. And I think one of the most important ways to share stories is through a creative expression. Whether it’s stories or emotions. And crazy cat person.

Interested in being part of the project?

‘Indivisible’ is an ongoing portrait and interview project, sharing the stories of racism and identity formation.
Spokane, WA
+1 (509) 859-7726