Over dinner, she asks if I have ever been to Uncle Tom’s Taco Shop. “You mean Honest Tom’s?” It becomes painfully obvious that we are two women—one black, one white—on a date in a “Mexican” restaurant. I look at her pork belly banh mi tacos, my own shrimp tempura tacos with tom yum aioli. This neighborhood used to be affordable. Now the coffee shops sell vinyl and breakfast sandwiches with names like “The Notorious E.G.G.” Uncle Tom aside, she has asked me if I have been to a restaurant three blocks from my own house, as if I won’t pass it on the bus ride home. She eats her “Vietnamese-Mexican” tacos, calls herself an “activist.” A war cry only I can hear.
Lauren Yates is a Pushcart-nominated poet who is currently based in Philadelphia. Her writing has appeared in Nerve, XOJane, FRiGG, Umbrella Factory, Softblow, and Melusine. Lauren is also a poetry editor at Kinfolks Quarterly and is currently a Poet in Residence with the Leonard Pearlstein Gallery at Drexel University. For more information, visit laurentyates.com.