Forged In Darkness

I hope one day you fall for a black girl
So you can watch as she builds herself
From the bones of slave ships
And the ghosts of freedom riders
Into a mold that doesn’t fit right
Like a mannequin with missing pieces
She’s just a body
With no soul
That’s how they’ll try to justify tearing her down
That’s what they’ll whisper to themselves at night
While she swings in the distant firelight
As she suffocates
Inhaling the ashes of ancestors dead and forgotten
Because hashtags weren’t invented yet
And you’ll watch as bricks crumble and foundations cave
And she falls
And she’ll pick herself up from the rubble and she’ll start again
And she’ll not ask for help
For you have no place there

I hope one day you fall for a black girl
So you can see the disbelief in her eyes when you tell her she is beautiful
Because beauty is for white girls
And she ain’t never been no white girl
She’s never seen springtime in her own eyes
And innocence in her own hands
No she is bitter corners and twisted roots
She is strange fruit hanging in that white man’s lawn
All freak show
And no beauty
This world wasn’t made to be kind to the likes of her
The light is a fickle jealous creature
That’s why beauty forged in darkness is forged in secret

I hope one day you fall for a black girl
And you can see the power in her
That you can see that worlds were built
Civilizations were built
Upon her shoulders
So that you can see them strip the royalty from her blood
Until all that remains is a skeleton wrapped in shackles
And a sense of faded greatness
So that you can see all the doubt seared upon her soul
Because though she is strong enough,
Powerful enough, to bear the ills of the world
Is she powerful enough to shoulder her own pain?

How To Befriend a Brown Girl: Part 2

On things not to say:
“I wish my skin was a dark as yours.”
“I wish I could tan so easily.”
“You’re such a pretty color.”
“What are you? Like what are you mixed with? It’s so pretty.”
“I totally want to have mixed babies. They’re the cutest.”
Inhale. Exhale.
My brown skin is not a fashion statement.
It’s not a fad.
Why do you keep applying beauty only to aspects of my being
Like why is only my hair pretty
Or just my skin is pretty
Or just my lips are pretty
But I’m not just pretty?
Why am I only pretty because I’m mixed with something else?
Your willingness to procreate with a person of color does not get you invited to the barbecue
We are not accessories.
Brown babies are not accessories.
BROWN BABIES ARE NOT ACCESSORIES.
You can have brown friends, brown babies, good intentions and still be part of the problem
I can’t peel my skin from my body and change into something less brown
Something more comfortable
I can’t alter my soul and suppress my culture
I can’t shed my skin like a coat
So stop treating the color of my skin like some trend
I AM NOT A STATEMENT
I am not your ally card
I am more than your token
I am not en vogue
Loving myself isn’t avant garde
It should not be an act of war
But I will fight that battle
In hopes that one day there will be no war

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.

Blackness

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

Prince Charming Was A Lie

Once upon a time
I loved you more than any girl
Should love any boy

And I thought
Fairy tales were real
Prince Charming was a boy
With stretched ears and ink embedded in his skin

But Snow White woke up
Cinderella’s ball ended
The evil in the shadows found a home in my soul
The wicked witch
The evil stepmother
Were the lies I told myself

Prince Charming was a lie
A lie you told to steal my heart
And keep it to yourself

Prince Charming was a lie
And I wear it on my skin
Etched into my flesh for all to see
Prince Charming was a lie

Brown Skin

Sometimes I stare at the back of my hands
At the brown skin covering my frame
And try to convince myself that
Brown is

B e a u t i f u l

But in that caramel color I see
S h a m e
A n g e r
D e s p a i r

Sometimes I stare at the back of my hands
And I am exhausted
When the weight of all I must overcome

C r a s h e s

Into my s h o u l d e r s

America was built upon the backs of ancestors I’ll never even know of
And hundreds of years later
I can’t breathe for the weight of all that I am owed

I Am Not Beautiful

You say that I am beautiful
That when you see a smile upon my face
The knot in your chest loosens just enough for you to breathe
That the sound of my laughter can be worn like armor
To get you through the day
You say life would lose meaning without me to brighten it
That the light in my eyes keeps the darkness at bay
You say that I am beautiful
But I am not beautiful
I am a liar
I will break your heart
I will never be overcome by the beauty of your laughter
Or the sound of your hello
I’ll never find myself unable to breathe from the pain of missing you
And there isn’t enough light in the world to keep my darkness away
I am not beautiful