When the World’s Problems Became Mine

I grew up

There was no specific day

There was no bat mitzvah or quinceañera

I grew up

 

It wasn’t one anatomical change

It wasn’t when I got my first period or could fit into a bra

I grew up

 

It wasn’t my change in maturity

It wasn’t when I lost my virginity or could sit at the adult table and engage in mature conversation

I grew up

 

It was when the world’s issues became mine, when I stopped relying on anyone to fix them

that I grew up

 

When abortion bans weren’t just a tragedy for those women, but instead my fight against a limitation on my future if I ever dare open my legs to a man willingly or forced.

I grew up

 

When police brutality on colored people changed from just increasingly high statistics to a fear of something that not even my mother could protect my afro brother and I from.

I grew up

 

When I had to begin to prove my supervisors, co-workers, student peers, and friends that their racist stereotypes weren’t true to me or every African American like me. That my skin wasn’t too light to be black, and that my hair wasn’t too poofy to be desired. And that no, you still can’t say the “N” word because your friend gave you the N word pass, because it’s unfair that black people can say it, because it means friend, or because your oppressive white ancestors created the word.

I grew up

 

When sexism was no longer just boys are stronger and girls are weaker, but actually a constant and complex argument that my sex had nothing to do witth my intelligence, strength, or capabilities. When I had to argue that my emotional responses weren’t just me being irrational and moody compared to the exact same emotional responses from my male peers.

I grew up

 

When I no longer fell for society’s gender roles. Instead they outrage me everyday, as I have to explain how men can cry and women can be muscular. That my boyfriend doesn’t have to  pay for every date, nor do I owe him sex if he does. When I had to stop my mom from slut shaming me for having a boyfriend, wearing revealing clothes, or just being a girl. But congratulating my brother for bagging so many girls.

I grew up

 

When Columbine changed from that horrifying story they told us in middle school health class, to marches for gun safety. I would be laughed at and forbidden from tyring to buy alcohol, tobacco, pornography, or even a lottery ticket, but I could stop this poem right now and go pickup a rifle withouth the seller giving any hesitation. It doesn’t sound so hard to give us gun control, but I guess our lives just aren’t worth it.

I grew up

 

When these became my problems, and my fight

When I put centuries of inequality on my back

When I took responsibility and put this world’s fate in my hands

iswhen I grew up

This poem is about: 
Our world

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