"The tears were always there. / You just didn’t recognize my face." Author, artist, and theologian Sarah Shin reads her poem "Beyond Invisible"—a response to the March 2021 Atlanta shootings that left six Asian women dead—a crescendo of increasing anti-Asian violence.
Sarah's poem and her husband Shin Maeng's accompanying illustration ask the pointed question, "Can you see me now?"—dealing with the recognition not just of grief over recent events, but the generational tears that have flowed unseen, unacknowledged, and unaddressed.
American 한 (Han)
by Sarah Shin
The tears were always there.
You just didn’t recognize my face.
Nor did you see behind the hunched back of the one doing your nails
The steel frame of a mother feeding her family with 14 hour work days.
Instead of seeing in our bodies and our face
The altar of the broken faithful awaiting resurrection
You make them instead into a graveyard for your sins.
But some habits just die hard, huh?
Inconvenient convenience it would be
To behold in a flattened story
The freedom-fighters who battled war, demagogues, oceans, and despair
And tore themselves from everything they knew to be home
The heartache of sacrificing family past to give family future a chance.
Anchors they have served to be as we strive to make this home
But cut into them and you’ve cut loose
Everything that told us to bear it
Everything that said hope was worth it
To swallow tears and keep our heads down.
No more now.
Our dams are broke and now they flood
All around you, all around me.
Do you see beyond just my face now?
Do you see beyond what you didn’t see in my eyes now?
Do you see me
Can you see me
Can you see me now?
To read more of Sarah's thoughts on the Atlanta shootings, read her piece, "Honoring the Lives of Women Who Refuse to Be Scrubbed Away" (MissioAlliance.org).
About Sarah Shin
Sarah Shin is author of Beyond Colorblind: Redeeming Our Ethnic Journey. She is currently studying at the Logos Institute for Analytic and Exegetical Theology at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Prior to that she served as Associate National Director of Evangelism for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. She regularly trains leaders and speaks at the intersection of evangelism, ethnic reconciliation, justice, beauty, and technology.
About Shin Maeng
Shin Maeng is an artist and illustrator. Make sure to check the show notes to examine his illustration, "American 한 (Han)" which was a direct response to Sarah's poem, "Beyond Invisible." Follow him @ShinHappens on Instagram.