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.
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 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

Why I Am An Annoying Feminist

“I’m so glad you’re not an annoying feminist,” you said.
And suddenly it clicks inside my head how much the man I have tied myself to does not know me
I suddenly see all the things you can never understand
“Of course I am a feminist.
Why aren’t you?”

When I point out all the lack of women characters in movies and books you respond by listing all the movies with bad ass women characters.
As if to say, “What more do you want?”
But a few gun toting, ass kicking women in the movies
Does not equality make.
Because I can still remember his eyes and his hands roaming my body
I can still remember his fingers questing for places
I was too young to know existed.
And I still remember his voice and the calm in his eyes as he asked me questions I was too young to answer.
I can still remember the conviction in his voice
When he explained to that child I was,
That no one would believe me.
I can still remember the pain in my chest as I realized he was right.

Because my body had developed so quickly
And the doctors treated me as an oddity
And I still remember the long drives to those Children’s Hospitals
Watching Disney movies while they drained vial after vial of my blood
And reading that damn book they gave me
To explain what was wrong with me.
It had a matching doll.
A boy with red hair.
They called him Terry Too-Soon.
It was about a boy who always did things to soon.
But they fixed him
And they wanted to fix me too.

I can still remember those male doctors
Examining parts of my body I did not want to show.
And I knew something was wrong with me
So I fought and suffered in silence.
He should not have have been able to say no one would believe me.
He should not have been so confident.

“Of course I am a feminist.
Why aren’t you?”
But look at you
Pale skinned. White male.
Oppression is not a place you have ever lived.
Fear is not for you.
You have never tasted it at the back of your throat
While you cut into your own brown skin until blood ran free.
You have never stared at your body and wished you had been born a boy.
You have never been told your life was meaningless.
Your father never had to tell you how to act when you got pulled over.
He never had to tell you to appear meek.
Keep your hands on the wheel.
No sudden movements.
Don’t give him a reason.
The world won’t care about another dead nigger.
You’ve never seen those flashing lights in your rearview and thought
“Please I don’t want to die today.”

The world has never convinced you that your body is worth nothing unless a man wants it.
You were never told that brown cannot be beautiful.
My father used to buy me black baby dolls.
Black Barbie dolls.
But I wanted nothing to do with them.
I recognized the similarities.
I saw how they looked like me.
But they weren’t the pretty dolls. With blue eyes.
With pretty straight blonde hair.
They looked like me.
Which was to say
I could never be beautiful.
You tell me I see racism where there isn’t any.
And sexism where there is not.
But honey, life ain’t no crystal stair.
“Of course I’m a feminist.
Why aren’t you?”