Brown Skin

Look, Mommy!

I grab the bleach blonde

Fake ponytail extension

From the Target shelf

And place it, like a crown,

atop my frizzy chestnut brown curls.

Mommy, can I have it please?

She stops, and she looks at me

Smiles softly

Says

Absolutely not.

But two weeks later

Upon my preschool graduation

My white babysitter gave me a gift bag

That held the crown I had admired and been denied.

Now you can look like me

She said

Proudly

I squealed and hugged her.

I wonder now how my mother must have felt.

My mother knew

that the only crown I would ever need

would be made of flowers

as I praised the earth that we come from.

My mother knew

that one day the white girl would realize

that I would never, ever look like her

and I would be persecuted for it.

My mother knew

that I would find myself

in the rhymes and meter of the OTHER 

box checked on every standardized test ever.

My mother knew

that the poetry of our heritage 

would find me and scoop me up

out of the hole dug for my brown body

by the country that tells you to get yourself

out of your own hole.

My mother knew

that I would one day rip the blond ponytail out of my own hair

and tenderly run my fingers through my God-given curls.

My mother knew

that I would be alright.

So she just smiled

and shook her head

and thanked the babysitter.

Then that same night

she washed my curls with her best conditioner

combed every last one of them

put lavender scented lotion on my brown arms and legs

and sang my favorite lullaby to me.

Brown skin, you're all that I have

As you sleep in your bed, go to sleep

Little brown skin child

This poem is about: 
Me
My family
My community
My country
Our world
Poetry Terms Demonstrated: 

Comments

Need to talk?

If you ever need help or support, we trust CrisisTextline.org for people dealing with depression. Text HOME to 741741