Poetry
White-Black
October 25, 2016
4
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I cut my relaxed hair this year on the 15th of February 2016
A day after valentines which is why I like to call it the beginning of my hair love affair
But that is not what this poem is about;

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Twenty years ago when I was made people said I took after my father’s shade
Instead of my mother’s semi-fair complexion, dark skin seemed to be my life long fate
Though over the years she convinced me that I am just the right amount of chocolate
But that is not what this poem is about;

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Beyoncé, Halle Berry, Tyrah Banks, Mariah Carrey, Alicia Keys ranked amongst the most beautiful black women
*note their unspoken similar fair complexion and nearly straight hair
God knows I love them but they are not what this poem is about

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This poem is about Nina Simone type of beauty and calling out your social media black girl model-type fantasy verses reality
Posting loud about how proud you are of African melanin
Saying you celebrate everything about the dark skin
But do you really?
This poem is about how since I began my hair love affair so many have said
how it would look so much better in dreads
Implying with sophisticated undertone mock
That my thick tight 4c hair is the type that can look good, so much more so when it is locked
By leaving it open, I am breaking an unspoken rule that black natural hair to be celebrated is for the ones with curls and not kinks and tight twirls
This poem is about my future unborn daughter
About how as much as I actively celebrate and push for black beauty,
A small part of me,
Hell, honestly, a big part of me
Secretly hopes that she will be lighter than me
More than just a part of me understands that maybe then she will be the right type of black beauty;
This poem is about how you say you love black women but feel especially proud and privileged when you date the light skinned
And forgive me for calling you out on your guise of taste and personal preference
Allow me to reference your personal preference to a hundred years of colonial mentality
To the eighteen hundreds where Willie Lynch wrote a letter to other slave owners
Teaching them to keep their slaves in check by using the method divide and conquer
“… And we shall pit the light skin against the dark skin… and the dark skin against the light skin…”
Hear me when I tell you, your subscribed ‘pretty’ is mental slavery
And we won’t be free until we realize that there is more than one type of black beauty
That beauty has infinite possibilities
Bringing it closer home we won’t be free until we stop having call outs for auditions
Including a person who is ‘yellow yellow’ as a must have description
Or in a more urban form
We won’t be free until Lupita stops being the exception and becomes the norm
That is what this poem is about
This poem is about fat lips *Nina Simone* which are brown and not red
Stained with the history of white men who said
Our facial structure reminded them of baboons

I personally think big lips in half smiles remind me of crescent moons
But then again that is not what this poem is about
This poem is about challenging black beauty ideals
Being conformed to Eurocentric standards still
This poem is about me telling you how tired I am of people chanting a type of black
When we all low-key know that black considered right
Is black closest to white

15

About author

Shingai

Going on twenty something Black Girl with chubby cheeks,fat lips, big hips, and a really kinky twa (Teeny-weeny-afro) Believer People Watcher Storyteller Favorite color blue, boo!

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  • So much truth about our falseness. And why do we even have to question what level of black is the right black? Sigh….Thank you for this Shingai ♥

    • Thank you so much for reading honey, and yeah these are the things we should question. Blessings <3

  • Samuel Iyan Omoboye

    Damn, I gotta say, these is amazing….I felt like you were right in front of me doing a spoken word presentation…..it’s awesome….and I agree, I am a culprit of this despicable sin, I am plagued with the disease of mental slavery

  • yasmin abdulatif

    This poem has changed my perception about my my skin , my color , my hair and above all my insecurities I love this ❤️

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