I won second place at The Spoken Word contest with this piece.
Poem Published As Performed.
My skin color is one of discussion but my race is one of debate. Telling someone that I am half black and half Mexican receives looks like I’m a new alien species. Picked piece by piece, all layers disclosed until I am left bare and alone. As if I’m not allowed to be my race till the study is approved. I walk on the streets of my ethnicity, the road cracked and crumbling and I can’t help but be swayed by the stares of inequality. This road shows me many ways but as I choose one I am pushed aside and told no.
No, because the color of my skin is too dark. No, because I’m not Mexican enough. No, because I’m not black enough. Where am I to go when the World Views me as a nuisance that needs to be snuffed? My life is a never-ending sidewalk that seems to steepen when I’m the most tired and drop when I don’t have the strength to stand.
The road next to me shows my six-year-old self as she asks to share crayons with the rest of the class and told no because they do not want whatever makes her skin black. As if my skin color was a disease or virus without a vaccine. I take a right turn and see my ten-year-old self, a little girl who saw the world as a pit of despair and covered in broken glass who learned to accept that love didn’t last. A girl who feared the sight of her own father. A girl who begged not to go to school because the girls could be so cruel. A girl who looked at death as a long lost friend. A girl covered in scars by the ones who were meant to assist.
Black is a bold tattoo on my forehead that gleams under the light and seems to be a flashing billboard in green, red and black lights. I am a label, a stereotype, all black people are the same and to even say that I may be different is a joke. Individuality is not a word used to describe me or my hope. I grew up being told that I had to accept that people would treat me differently, that the color of my skin came with a consequence, a never ending list of side effects, that my name is not my own…It is whatever uncle sam wants.
When I look into the mirror and see the face of my father that I have to swallow my pride and smile even harder. As I matured I was told if I’m ever stopped by a cop I am meant to submit him, on my knees with arms up just so I can make it back home. Hide my indignance and do as I am told even if I know the cop is wrong.
We go where we are told, chains around our arms, ankles, and necks like we are savage animals, restless. How is this anyway for a little girl to grow up? I try to take a new route down the street and suddenly I’m barricaded on all sides. No trespassing signs glaring at me like the employees at the store who follow me in fear I might steal. Where am I to go when everyone says I will end up like everyone else my race? A criminal, a prisoner, pregnant by 16 a no good villain, mother’s hide their children away from. You might think this is fiction but my god this is my reality.
These words spill from my lips like molten lava, my soul a beacon of Fire and sometimes I just want to scream and scream until my voice gives out and hope someone can hear me, someone can understand, someone can tell me that being proud of being mixed is not an anomaly.
That the harsh side effects to the pills my ancestors have been taking since the beginning of time are not enough to sway me. The seeds my people grew have allowed me to rise from concrete, my stem in ribbons, my petals in tears and I’m free from the weeds around me and I scream free at last, free at last. My road is long and the floor collapses beneath my feet and sometimes it feels like no matter how hard I try to climb I’m still falling.
But I will keep fighting, I will never stop fighting and I guess that’s something that people seem to forget. hundreds of years later we’re still holding our ground. Taken from our land and our land taken from us, our names ripped from our roots. Yet we still keep going. My street will continue to expand and even if who I am makes people think twice I will be proud because being mixed only shows that I am that much more…resilient.