Once again, another poem I wrote a few years ago. This is one that is not read so well, but best emphasized through spoken word. This is published in my book of poetry Everything Woman under the title “past.present.future.”.
“Is it because I’m black?” (aka “past.present.future”)
My skin is dark and my hair is nappy,
My nose is wide and my lips are thick,
My hips are full and my butt is round,
But is it because I’m Black that you frown?
Is it because I’m black?
When I walk in the store
All eyes on me
From the door to the rack
Can I try this on please?
Without you breathin’ down my neck
Are you really gonna follow me?
Ask if I need anything and I haven’t even looked at anything
But when I need to ask anything
You can’t be found…
Skin is only as deep as the ocean we came on;
The color of chocolate, honey or almond,
So many names for a race called by one
Why can’t I just be and be happy within?
Is it because I am black that you won’t let me live ?
Here is where I am,
There is where I want to be.
Because I am black you won’t let me get
From here to there, there to here, here we go again.
You stop me and
Say I fit the description
Of another brother/sister/friend.
And is it really that hard to tell us apart
When her hair is straight and
Mine is not?
You think my skin is the color of what?
Well then maybe it is
I’m not ashamed of who I am
I don’t run from the sun that gives us life
The color the Son made me is the color that I should be
So why you wanna make me feel I should be
Mad, ashamed, run and hide
Bleach my skin and perm my hair
I don’t think you understand
It’s because I’m Black that it grows this way!
Because I’m the only Black person in the room/on the job/in the world
You think I know the answer that all Black people will say
You think I look just like Macy Gray
You think I’d look better if I straightened my hair
You think I talk funny because I don’t use slang
You tell me I have an accent on what grounds?
You think it is weird how I’m the only Black person you know that
Listens to John Williams?
So is it because you are not Black that you don’t understand
The real meaning of what it means to be Black?
That being Black is not the way you dress, talk, walk, or drive;
The music we listen to, the way we wear our hair.
These are not the definitions of our people.
A people that built a country for free and
Then had to fight for the right to vote for its leaders.
We are not defined by our hips and our lips,
We are more than statistics and numbers—
Victims of this disease
Prone to that illness.
A father by fifteen, in jail by eighteen and dead by nineteen
Is not who our men are.
Our women are not loose and have children for the city
Our young people are not drug dealers and up to no good.
We get married and stay married
We go to college and finish
We own businesses and pay taxes
We vote even when it may not be counted
We are doctors and we are teachers
We are lawyers and we are judges
We are Black and strong because we are Black
Our past has made us strong
Our experience is who we are and
Our future is where we are going