Illustrated by Joan Camaya

tokenism, definition: the policy or practice of making only a symbolic effort (as to desegregate).

tokenism, definition: the practice or policy of making no more than a token effort or gesture, as in offering opportunities to minorities equal to those of the majority.

tokenism, definition, ad-lib: the actions that people do to show their tolerance, despite not making any effort to move forward. 

tokenism, opinion: one step forward, one step back.


back to square one.


to be token is to be taken and presented through the windows

through the screens

faces for photos like finite things

like diversity is something that we have to make a show of

show off these systematic anomalies

because this one is different, you see, it’s 

one of these is not like the others

so it will be used as an example for what the others could be. 


we use our tokens and play games

tokens are exchanged for passage into the unknown spaces of equity and justice

this liberation from being oppressed

oppressive systems only need a good cover photo

don’t look too far into it

don’t squint your eyes

don’t stare for too long or you’ll see the distortion of individuals’ identities

see the One become All

and all of us can only be one thing

there are no more parts for us to play

and the parts we have are written for us to speak into existence the beliefs

presumably because why bother knowing better and shifting the settings so the audience can see the perception is skewed

they let the lights dim to black. 


POC are forced to be viewed and examined

through some stereotypical headcanon

and one of us will look out the window

one gets the window and is allowed to be seen

their words scripted

the masses listless to see what they will be. 


to be token is to be taken into the system

no, not like the others excluded from benefits

it’s their loss and we can’t take a chance on losses 

so only one is needed for this show to commence

things don’t always make sense when the system is concerned

the system has been solicited by many and has rejected many more through a lack of support

no one opening doors

they simply show how to find the key

and while some are left searching and some are left lost

the cost of this, is the token.