Speak Up or Comply, You Decide

Thu, 11/08/2018 - 19:52 -- Kayla A


I feel the warmest when I’m surrounded by my family

We live life as if there’s no limitations despite the fact that there are so many


Living for the strong aroma of smoke coming out of the barbecue

All you hear is laughter and all you see is the people starting to line up as grandma sets out the food

Mash potatoes, mac and cheese, fried chicken, potato salad and collard greens


Mom starts the cha cha slide

Tongues are stained with kool-aid

Uncle Russell piles thirds on his place

No one's surprise that Auntie Tre is a hour late


Adults play poker and swear no alcohol is in there drinks

But the children are smarter than they think

Precious moments like this make you too scared to blink


Box braids, afros, weaves and wigs sway to the sweet sounds of r&b throughout the day

At night, heads are wrapped in silk scarves because ruining our hair is too big of a price to pay


A painful history binds us together

But thankfully, we are exactly that



But this warm feeling can quickly transform into coldness


Suddenly the kids at school see me as strange

The place I live is considered too dangerous to have my friends over

I’ve become embarrassed of what’s shaped me into who I am


My natural hair is seen as too nappy

I conform to their standards of beauty and straighten my hair

As if getting rid of the naps are the solution to all the dirty glares


I’ve been asked questions that are both inconsiderate and subtly racist

Sadly, the moments where using my voice matters most, I feel silenced

Contributing to the problem by being complaint


Forcing myself to take on the label on being smart because anything is better than the angry black women stereotype


This version of me doesn’t eat soul food, listen to r&b, or use slang

This version of me isn’t me


I want to live unapologetically in my blackness

I am not ashamed to be the black cup of coffee stirred just enough to give you that bittersweet taste

The piece of dark chocolate that you crave all throughout the day


But I’m tired

Tired of my people not getting the recognition they deserve

Tired of being denied the rightful title of a human being

Tired of being terrified everytime I turn on the news or pass by a police car

Tired of being told that I act white when I am more than capable of succeeding in my own skin


Like a light switch, I flip between two worlds

This process is dreary and confusing

Can I embrace my culture? Do I have to assimilate? I feel like I shouldn’t have to be choosing


Even if my body trembles, my voice shakes and my words stutter

I’d rather use my voice in the face of adversity no matter how negative the consequences, then let all these past sacrifices go overlooked


You can destroy wood and brick, but you can’t destroy a movement

Our voices matter, our dreams matter, our lives matter and we can prove it


This poem is about: 
My family
My community
Our world


Additional Resources

Get AI Feedback on your poem

Interested in feedback on your poem? Try our AI Feedback tool.


If You Need Support

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