Confessions of a Confused White Girl

Location

69301
United States
42° 13' 59.2068" N, 102° 42' 48.6432" W

When I was in the fourth grade

I walked up to my dance teacher and said,

“I am African-American.”

She promptly spit out the water she was drinking and replied,

“You’re half black?”

I explained that my mother was a white South African.

 

I wore it on my lips like a proud badge.

I was trying to get a reaction out of her.

I didn’t understand the implications

of saying I was a part of a group

that I didn’t self-identity with

as a joke.

 

But that doesn’t mean I don’t have roots there.

My family can be traced for generations.

My grandmother would tell me stories.

My grandfather would give me paintings his sister had done

that showed the culture they grew up in.

All my life my family told me,

“Be proud of your heritage.”

 

But racism works in odd ways.

It segregates those it deems lesser,

but does not discriminate when it comes to those who oppose it.

 

When my mother had to flee the only home that she knew

it did not matter that she was white.

Standing up against Apartheid police would have yielded the same result.

 

Be proud of my heritage.

 

When my uncle refused to fight for a racist army

the color of his skin did not protect him from the government.

 

Be proud of my heritage.

 

Being proud of a bloody past is hard to do

because some people had a dream

and others realized the only way to stop the system

was to remove yourself from it.

 

Be proud of my heritage.

 

Be proud of racism and shame,

war and discrimination,

because they were Jewish and treated as less too.

 

Be proud of my heritage.

 

Proud of the culture, art,

words, and ideas that I hold so dear today.

 

Be proud of my heritage. How?

 

How can I be proud when people will not even acknowledge

the legitimacy of my past.

All my life I’ve been told:
“You are not allowed to be African.”

Because of the color of my skin,

because my family wasn’t brought here on slave ships.

 

But I know my own chains.

I cried the tears of my great-grandmother

when the number was tattooed upon her arm.

People have denied me my past.

 

I have experienced oppression,

it’s not the same as yours,

but together we can use our collective experiences.

 

Because oppression works in powerful ways,

it grows from action,

where hatred is its oxygen,

misunderstanding is the fuel.

The heat spreads through our bodies,

turning our vision red,

making bad decisions,

dehumanizing brothers and sisters.

 

Be proud of my heritage.

I am.

 

Proud of where people came together and worked for life.

We don’t know each other’s pain,

but that doesn’t mean we can’t bring our own perspectives to the table.

Like Sunday dinner,

we can pass love,

understanding,

compassion,

ideas

as easily as passing the butter.

 

One language is never enough.

 

Together, all of our voices can be heard.

This poem is about: 
Me
My family
Our world

Comments

AfricanKhaleesi

Wow. you totally owned that spoken word and by doing so, reclaimed your past. There was a beauty in the whole thing, especially "Like Sunday dinner,/ we can pass love,/ understanding,/ compassion,/ ideas/ as easily as passing the butter."

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