Ringlets

I didn’t know I was black until I was 8 years old.

I didn’t know the color of my skin had a label attached. This was the first time I learned about slavery, Harriet Tubman and the oppression of my people.But I didn’t understand.I couldn’t understand why someone could be hated solely on the color of their skin.I was 8 years old when a little boy on the playground told me that he hated back people and wished I was still a slave.I cried a lot that day. I was 10 years old when my teacher made fun of my skin.She called me ashy.I was 10 years old when i started to hate my skin.I hated the color of it.I hated the fact the I had to now put on a little more lotion in the morning just so I wouldn’t get made fun of at school.Why did I have to be born black?What did I do wrong?I was 10 years old when I started to hate my hair, down to every single ringlet.  I was 12 years old when a girl in my grade told me she didn’t like my curly hair.Maybe people would like me better if my hair wasn’t so nappy.Maybe I could blend in a little.I was 12 years old when I first straightened my hairI was 12 years old when I realized people looked down on me because of the color of my skin.I noticed teachers were surprised when I was at the top of my class,They said, and I quote “Didn’t expect someone like me to do so well”  I was 14 years old when realized I was going to be black for the rest of my life.There was nothing I could do about it.I was going to be stuck in this skin for as long as I live.I was 14 years old when I started to wear my hair down natural.I learnt to accept myself and my heritage. I was 14 years old when I stopped blaming my parents for the color of my skin.  I was 16 years old when I began to fear for my little brothers.Two little black boys having to grow up in America - tragic.I remember briefing them before walking into a seven eleven.“Don’t look suspicious.”“Please don’t give them a reason to think you’re a criminal.”I was 16 years old when I began to proudly wear my skin and cherish the history that it held.I loved every inch of myself and I stopped straightening my hair.I was 16 years old when I realized I was beautiful.  I am 18 years old and I want to make a change.I know that the color of my skin has no limitations to my success.Being black is no excuse for my failures.I am 18 years old and I wish I could tell my 8 year old self that the color of your skin shouldn’t be an insultTell my 10 year old self to be proud in your melanin infused fleshTell my 12 year old self that you are beautiful ringlets galoreTell my 14 year old self that you shall rise no matter what Tell my 16 year old self to begin advocating for justiceI am 18 years old and need to make this difference I want to prove everyone that being black is not an insult.

This poem is about: 
Me

Comments

Need to talk?

If you ever need help or support, we trust CrisisTextline.org for people dealing with depression. Text HOME to 741741