Gervanna Stephens: The White Man Tells Me to Forget Skin Color
In the Beginning
To be black in this climate
is brilliant honesty
a refusal of Hail Mary’s
flag skinned high
and proud of this tar and charcoal and milk sweetened coffee
all of these and still true
power of the ancestors
beaming from crooked smiles
electrifying the vibranium in our blood
to create from darkness the light,
to shape heaven in its midst and
breathe original into man.
The White Man Tells Me to Forget Skin Color
He tells me that my skin is pretty,
like a caramel covered dipped gift and I know he means black
because he cannot say the word. I know he means high colored; mixed.
As if to say I am a white-washed version of my ancestral line.
As if to say I am not black.
As if to say his interest because of my “pretty black” makes me
more valid, more good, better.
As if to say I am different, like my great-great-great-great-great-grand somebody never
had to succumb to whiteness once upon a time.
As if to say I can pass as not who I am. As if to say the richness that flows in my veins
is not soil and sweat and revolt.
As if to say I should be ashamed. As if to say that this skin isn’t
patriarchy beyond flag and country.
As if to say this is reason to love me. He tells me, as if to say I am stupid.
He tells me, as if to say mansplaining hasn’t lashed the black woman enough.
As if to say I don’t already love myself.
Gervanna Stephens is a Jamaican poet and proud Slytherin with congenital amputation living in Canada. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The /tƐmz/, Rhythm & Bones, Bone & Ink, Rose Quartz, Okay Donkey, 8 poems, TERSE, WusGood.black, Enclave and Anti-Heroin Chic. She hates public speaking, has two sisters who are way better writers than her and thinks unicorns laugh when we say they aren’t real. Tweets @ gravitystephens / https://gervannastephens.wordpress.com/