How To Befriend a Brown Girl: Part 1

(working title)

On Hair:
  1. Don’t ask to touch my hair as you’re touching my hair.
  2. Don’t touch my hair.
  3. Don’t ask to touch my hair.
  4. Don’t ask if my hair is real.
  5. Don’t ask how I get my hair to look so pretty.
  6. Don’t ask what I’m mixed with because my hair is so pretty.
  7. Don’t tell me you wish you could have hair like mine.
  8. Don’t.
Your fingers in my hair without my consent or expressed permission
Is like a statement that black bodies are akin to amusement parks
That America’s history of disregarding black bodies is lost on you and will continue to be so
Chains. Whips. Water hoses. Dogs. Eurocentric ideas of beauty and now your fingers in my damn hair.
Our bodies have never been ours.
They have only been whatever you choose to make of them.
They have never merited kindness and care.
A stranger putting their hands on you without your consent
Is assault
Except when it comes to black hair and black bodies
I’m only beautiful when you’re around to see it
I’m only pretty when you’re around to tell me
Even my love for myself and my blackness is offensive to you
I can only love myself in ways that you approve.
In secret and in whispers
Because black girls are too rowdy
We’re too angry
We’re a handful
We’re too much
Too much
And not enough
I am not enough for you to view my body as my sanctuary
My hair as my glory
Not enough to prevent you from violating sacred ground
To claim for your amusement.
I am too much
And not enough
Not enough to keep your fingers out of my damn hair.


I’m only half black
Those are the modifiers assigned to my blackness
I am not like those other girls
I am “pretty for a black girl”
I am the exception
And so I look around and see beauty identified as something else
As anything other than me
Beauty is for white girls
And I am a shade too brown
And a touch too ethnic
I guess I’ll eat in the kitchen

I See You There

Pretty boy
You took up residence in my heart
With your stormy eyes
And your inky soul
I came apart in your arms
Every single time
You unraveled beneath my lips
And I wrapped myself in you

Pretty boy
I see you there

But didn’t you see me falling?
And didn’t you see me drifting away?
I tried to take your hand
Tried to reach for you
But the darkness in you
Refused me
I see you there
But you never saw me