Teaching Self-Love

On the day my little brother begins to see race.

I'd like to think he will be ready for the talk I'll give him.

I'd like to think he will be ready to carry the weight of all the self-love I will place onto his shoulders.

I fear he will come home shaking in sadness,

telling me he wishes he were a lighter shade.

Then everything will become Déjà vu again as I remember how I used to tell my mother the same thing.

I'd cry and say, “Mama I want to be a lighter shade.”

But in truth I was saying “Mama, euro-centric beauty standards are invading my second-grade thoughts

and I don’t know how to keep them from gentrifying this body too.”

Although, some nights I wake up terrified.

Panting in sweat because out of everything my number one fear is that my brother will go through that phase too.

That he’ll forget how to self-love until his features turn fashion and the only thing I could say then is that he’ll learn from his mistakes.

But you see, there is a large part of me that thinks this day will never come.

There is a large part of me that knows my brother will never come home haunted by his image staring back in the mirror.

Because I swear to you, he only sees me speak of our skin being the shade of moonlight, magic, and brown sugar.

Because I only speak of our skin being the shade of moonlight, magic, and brown sugar.

Never a weapon.

Not a ticking time bomb.

Not a costume.

Not an ornament to be lynched onto the popular tree.

Just the shade

of brown sugar.

And if he ever faces any doubt and questions me

I'll remind him that this is my most honest answer.

I'll say our history began way before 1619.

That your skin color does not define your intelligence just your identity.

And in whatever you want to be in life you need to go do that.

Make sure it happens but never let the thoughts of people who want to belittle you for your melanin

guide you into becoming the person they think you are.

And if this ever happens I want you to be ready.

To know how to fight fire with water because it is water that puts the fire out.

To be unapologetically loud and proud and black and never forgetting of that.

To live life as who you are and never another person you may want to be.

So, on the day my little brother starts to see race

I'll say, "There are some people who'll act like they'll win a gold medal for making you suffer.

But you better not let them take home the gold."

This poem is about: 
My family
My community
My country
Our world


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