Skin

It’s an interesting thing,

this identity-

when deciding what amount

of what blood’s enough.

Cuz when you move around,

the battle lines shift,

and what was once your salvation

becomes your conviction.

_

Yeah, it’s a tricky thing,

living in this skin,

and working really hard,

to set the example

so others don’t struggle

with the demons I grapple.

_

But when a 14 year-old girl

denies her truth,

casts aside who she is

so that she can fit in,

feel accepted in her society,

what she perceives as her reality-

the truth of what beauty is,

of what the face of success is.

But where is the humanity,

what is our reality like,

when a 14 year-old girl sighs

“I’m not black, no I’m not.

Maybe on the outside,

but not inside…”?

What does that mean,

when a young girl denies

the sheen of her skin?

_

And what do I say

so that she rejects,

her own self-rejection,

and instead rejects

the conditioning of her perception,

the brainwashing that’s taught her

that she isn’t beautiful,

or her skin color’s not right?

_

How can I make a case,

against the value we place on race,

when I fight the same war

inside my own soul?

When I know what it’s like

to feel your skin isn’t right,

or maybe it’s your hair,

or the tilt of your eyes?

_

How can I teach the truth

of self acceptance,

when I fight my own insides

to fit what’s outside?

When I know what it’s like

to have one side of you

be marked as the enemy

or have half of your reality

justify

the other half of your existence?

_

How do I mask the fact

that I’d be lying

if I said no one cares

what you look like

or what your background is

when most of my upbringing

has been not fitting in?

Or maybe everyone feels this way,

I don’t really know.

_

But I know this girl-child’s

special and beautiful

and shouldn’t deny who she is

so she can fit in,

or fall into a mold

of what what she is told

is the model of propriety

in this skewed society.

See, as a teacher, it can be quite hard

to teach young people to stand tall

and love who they are.

Cuz everyday you’re on a stage,

heart and soul exposed.

So, what happens when

what a child says

hits too close to home?

_

When the memories wash over

of people you love telling you,

or alluding, that this side’s

too cheap, too traditional,

too sleazy, too shallow-

that your color is perfect,

but the betrayal’s in your accent.

That your hair is just right,

but the Mexican side isn’t decent,

or because you don’t fall

into one or the other,

you’re not enough of anything,

not quite worth marrying.

“You have no morals, no culture

no history.”

_

How do you hide the truth

of this experience?

And how do you deny,

that it still eats you alive

and often you hide

or avoid getting too close

so that you don’t let them know

that your purity’s low,

or maybe its your self-esteem?

_

So you see, the challenge I mean?

So I’m silent, and I kick

myself

for not combatting her sigh,

her denial of self,

for not demanding that

she love the skin

that she finds herself in,

so the demons in her mind

dont squash her ability to thrive.

_

There’s always tomorrow

where again I will try

to speak my unspeakable

and teach her to love

who she is all the more

because of her skin,

and the depth of her heart.

_

The lines will always shift,

and it’s impossible to sift

through the maze

of identity,

especially if your looking to fit

into someone else’s reality,

or idea of normality.

Send the soldiers home,

let the demons know,

that the only truth here

is the truth of your soul.

New York, NY
May, 2015

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