"If you ask me if I'm fluent in Chinese, I will tell you my Chinese is a ghost lodged in my throat."
That's poet Athena Chu's metaphor for what it's like to be Chinese in America.
"My Chinese is a racist joke I threw in the garbage, wrapped in a napkin stained with my culture and it made a sound as it hit the bottom: 'chink.'"
At the Massachusetts finals for "Louder Than A Bomb" slam poetry contest, Chu, a sophomore at Buckingham Browne & Nichols high school in Cambridge, got real during her poem "My Chinese," which illustrates the pressure to suppress heritage in a culture that either fetishizes it, appropriates it or makes fun of it — and it hit viewers deep.
"Oh god, this hit me way too hard, every line felt like a memory of something I've said," YouTube user Ben Liow wrote. "Chills throughout."
"Absolutely amazing," user HeiLong24 wrote. "This broke me a little."
Check out 5 powerful moments from Chu's poem:
Watch the full performance below: