My Blackness – A Poem

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.

My First Trimester at Professional School

I love school. I love learning. I love listening to professors. I love discussions. I love homework. I love studying. And I love seeing results reflect my effort. Starting at Palmer College of Chiropractic has been my dream since I was eight years old. I’ve always had the dream of helping others, but through natural medicine was the way I wished to do so.

Although I love being at Palmer, it has not been an easy road. During my first year of college, at DePaul University, the fall following my high school graduation in May 2018 I took a full-load my last two quarters at DePaul along with an additional two online courses at Illinois Valley Community College. This was very challenging for me. I was in seven classes at a time and I constantly had work to do. What kept me motivated? I knew that this was what I had to do to reach my goal…besides I loved all of the classes I was in and I learned a lot of material that was of much benefit to me.

As I arrived for my first day of class at Palmer, I knew that I was about to embark on a four year journey that would consist of heavy struggles, stressful tears, and endless smiles of achievement. As I am currently in the undergraduate program at Palmer until July 2020, I have had light course work in comparison with what is to come. I know that as I begin the doctorate program in July 2020 that I will be in a whole new world and have an entirely different level of responsibility on my shoulders, but even this first trimester has been different than all of my years of schooling.

The environment at this school is wonderful, but it took a little while to get adjusted to. Being 19 years old at a professional school where the average age is 26 is more rewarding than it is not. I have definitely felt myself mature and grow stronger focus during these past three months, and I am grateful for that. Sometimes it is difficult when I see videos and pictures of close friends at their college homecoming football games, constant Greek life events, dorm shenanigans, and the mountainous supply of food from the dining hall. I realize it was my choice to cut my time at a four-year college down to one year and I have no regret with that choice, but sometimes it all really does stress me out. I find myself surrounded by like-minded individuals that are decades older than me and some that are just half a decade. I think that there is maybe one other student that I have met that is under 20 years old. It makes me feel out of place sometimes, but this school has been nothing but welcoming. Regardless of whatever emotion is running through my body, I know that this is all for something great and that all of the stress will be worth it and that is what pushes me to keep on keeping on.

I’ve dedicated myself completely to myself and to my schooling and it has been good for me. I used to fear missing out with my friends at home while I was at DePaul and I was constantly visiting because I didn’t want to be forgotten, but since I have been at Palmer things have changed. I miss my friends and family and I miss being home, but I know that they’re still here no matter what. I find myself feeling a since of home here and I have started to find great comfort in my own company. Spending weeks by yourself, day and night, is healing for the soul and I don’t fear being alone anymore. I look forward to coming back to my apartment after class to make note-cards, study for my next exam, or just watch a few episodes of a favorite show. As the trimester ends and as my grades are in a very strong place, I look back at the trimester and I am pleased. I had many nights full of crying and feeling broken for various reasons, and overcoming those feelings with no one around me was difficult, but necessary for my growth. I worry less because I know that most things are not worth my energy and most things do not matter that much. I developed a great study ethic and uncovered a form of determination that I never knew I had. This first trimester has changed my life and has molded me into a stronger person in ways that extend much further than my life as a scholar.

There is a long road that lies ahead of me, but I know that I am equipped with the grit and resilience to get past anything that comes my way. And let me tell you, with absolute confidence, that you are too. Go out and chase your dreams right now, because there really is no time like the present. We aren’t too young to start turning our hopes and dreams into reality. You are capable of greatness, all you need to do is believe that you are and it will come.