I show up with my mother and everyone is shook, I show up with my father and they don’t give a second look. But she’s white and I’m not, we mustn’t be related. Damn, that’s the type of thing that I have always hated. The looks and the glares, you think I can’t feel your despair? Sometimes hate is silent, but you always know when it is there.
I want to be a doctor and you laugh in my face, then you hand me some track spikes and tell me to go race. I speak on the problems that make my heart crack, but then you have the nerve to tell me, “you aren’t even black.” You scoff when I “bring up slavery and history again,” when you don’t even realize that there was no end.
No end to the brutality from those that protect us. No end to the fear and the severe lack of trust. No end to the comments, “is this your real hair? can i touch it?” Oh, and don’t forget, “how do you even brush ‘it’?” Frizzy. And big. Unruly. And nappy. But when you get a perm, it’s “perfect,” are you happy?
No end to the nerves when you meet someone’s parents. You dress to impress in hopes of earning their clearance. The thoughts racing through your mind, “do they know that I’m black? are they okay with that?” In fear that they might think your presence poses as an attack.
I’m not black enough, but I’m black when you need me. I’m black when I wear a hood and all of a sudden I am creepy. I’m black when you need a black friend to seem not racist. I’m black when the police ask me why I am around certain places. I’m black when you want to seem cultured and pure. But I’m not black enough when you think you can use the n-word. You say, “I forget you’re black,” as if that makes it okay? I don’t care how close we are, that is something that should never say, no matter the time or the day.
Slang from my mouth makes me hood and ghetto, but slang from yours makes you chill, on the down low. You think that I only listen to R&B and rap and when I say I am scared to get pulled over you say, “don’t overreact.” But tell me, do you feel your stomach churn at the news? When you hear the too familiar words,”black thug dies,” because I do. Or worry about your father or brother when they drive. And pray that they don’t get pulled over and make it home alive, rather than end up another lost black life. Do people around you roll your eyes, when you say that #BlackLivesMatter because you don’t want anyone else to die?
Do you find yourself stressed when you explain to your friends, if “All Lives Mattered,” then so many blacks wouldn’t be shot dead. They tell you, “it’s all in your head, there’s no issue,” can you say that to the mother crying over her son’s beaten dead body tissue? They don’t understand that we know that every cop isn’t bad, but some are corrupt and the fact that they can’t see that is sad.
You don’t sound black. Or act black. Or speak it. Or dress it. Can black not be calm? Classy? Or literate? You fear the progression of black all around you. You’re clenching your purse because of what? A tattoo? I raise a concern and that makes me sassy and rude. I dress how I feel confident, but anything I wear is lewd.
She’s light-skin, she’s mixed, she can’t say she’s black. Tell that to the people who’ve called me a nigger and laughed. Tell that to the security guard who put me outside, when my two fairer skinned friends got to stay inside. Tell that to the kids who stare at me in discomfort, when the word slave or racism is mentioned before us. Tell that to the high-school counselor that drove me away, from attending a college that was situated too close to Alabama one day.
The privilege I receive from my lighter toned black, is evident and real, but I will always be under attack. All black is beautiful and all black is assaulted. No matter the shade, society wants us all to be exhausted. My melanin is radiant and my curls are fucking fire. I have never and will never be an affirmative action hire.
I am smart and hard-working and earned my spot, not by fault. I land an achievement and all of a sudden everyone is salt. I will not fall prey to this self-fulfilling prophecy, that has succumbed too many living in this sad ass democracy. I’m black and I’m white and I’m bold and I’m bright. I’m everything you could ever want and I will not go down without a fight.