Talk Back: Poem on Complexions

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JET wants you to Talk Back.  This is one of the reader submissions that we received and opted to publish.  Want to make your voice heard?  Submit your commentary, TV show recap, poem, or essay HERE.  Read all the rules  so you know how it works.   And now, a reader’s thoughts on the complicated issue of complexions.

All my life
I’ve been called
White girl
It didn’t make sense because
Daddy was brown
Granny was brown
Everyone was brown
Brother was light
Mommy was light
But I
I was

But he called me white girl
I believed
It made sense

Auntie was brown
Cousin was brown
Best friend was brown
Everyone was brown

But teacher was white
Principal white
The walls were white
So I thought

He called me white girl
And I began to feel as though I didn’t belong
Everyone was alike
And I a goose in a row of ducks
A needle in the hay stack
A liar in church
A wolf in sheeps clothing
I just didn’t belong

My skin deceived me
To believe
That I was adopted from a happy home
Throw into the abyss
An odyssey of life
Traveling endlessly
Wanting to feel the beautiful black of smooth brown skin

Yearning for an acceptance letter for Black People Meet
I wanted to be a Rosa Parks
Or Corretta Scott
But I felt like a Anne Frank
A Frances Claflin
Fighting a war as someone else
The war against my pigment
That seemed lacking
That I wanted so bad
Because I wanted to be black
I wanted to fight
I wanted to sit at the front of a bus
And drink from any water fountain
I wanted to make a change as an independent strong black woman
I wanted to be part of a strong black family

He called me white girl
And it made sense
Mommy was light
Brother was light
Daddy was brown
Aunties brown
Granny brown
Grandpa brown
Cousins brown
Friends brown

But white boards and chalk
Made sense to me
I could fit in
Weld myself to them
And develope hate
Feel superior
I could be one of them

But even looking like them
I didnt want to be them

But he called me white girl
So I believed
Until second grade
When I was told
I could be
The strong black woman I wanted to be
I had misconceived
Who I was meant to be
According to my lack of pigment
the non existence of melanin
That could make me darker to match my family

But he called me white girl
An I didn’t know that the makings of me came straight from Africa
Bold and beautiful
A past life slave
A past life freedom fighter
Molded into a beautiful light skin woman
Who was as black as coal
On the inside

My pigment mishap was a blessing
Making me beautiful and black
For all to see
Without matching the family
Destined to stand out

He called me white girl
But I hear black woman
In my pigment mishap

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