Kylie’s Ramen

  |  Topic: Identity, LGBTQ, Poetry, Race/Ethnicity
By Jahleelah Shaheed

A Wednesday night, during a dinner date with procrastination

Scrolling through YouTube aimlessly when a Buzzfeed video

in my recommended reads, “People Try Kylie Jenner’s Ramen.”

 

Nose upturned in typical disgust at the mention of this name,

I click, all annoyance and no curiosity.

Rich white girl turns poverty meals “gourmet”

Gets applause at her creativity and “chef skills”

Gets article in Cosmo and Teen Vogue

 

I sit at home,

cabinets empty,

stomach too.

Wonder why white people imitate my struggle

Like it’s fun, like it’s a fad.

 

Wonder if they go out in hordes,

think it exciting,

and snatch the bottom-shelf ramen with greedy, manicured hands,

exclaiming to their friends who look exactly like them

“Look how cheap it is, it’s such a steal!”

 

They gather in their homes,

the ones built on the bones of bodies like mine

and re-watch the video carefully as if Kylie is their messiah,

their patron saint of appropriation.

 

So, they sit,

the first one to try hides slight disgust,

fakes enthusiasm as she silver spoons the noodles into her mouth

and after a quick and tidy chew, manifests a tight-lipped smile,

and a “yasss!”

 

And I sit, still hungry, on the other side of town;

my neighborhood too black, too hard for them to hide their hatred here,

too much work to gentrify just yet.

But it begins nonetheless,

and the out-of-place Coldstone down the street being built

marks the beginning of their sickness spreading

 

This is not new,

not the first time Kylie has co-opted something not hers for fun;

familiar is the way she feasts upon my culture.

 

Thinks she can call herself colored

because she is bathed in spray-tan

and has a black boyfriend.

 

But for all it is worth,

Kylie can have the ramen,

can have her layers and layers of seven shades too-dark foundation,

lip injections and extensions,

 

Can have her hunger for being a black girl

because it’s “cute” when she does it, right?

Her ass implants and “boxer-braids” five seconds from slipping are so in-style

because a black body is a “must-have.”

 

So, I may go to bed hungry

but at least I go to bed black

and when I wake up in the morning,

it hasn’t worn off.

 

Jahleelah, 17, is an activist, artist and poet who also created the art for this piece. They will be attending Sarah Lawrence College in the fall.

 

Want more poetry? Want to share yours? 

VOX-A-Palooza FlyerJoin VOX and Atlanta-area teens next Sat., April 29, at VOX-a-Palooza!

12-5 p.m. at The Rush Center (near Candler Park MARTA station).

Click here for details & to register. It’s free!

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