A Color I Can’t Escape
I think of the moments where I was made to feel bad about myself. My skin, my hair, my face shape, my proportions. Unchangeable… things that are things that are things that don’t matter. But then I remember moments. “You’re like an Oreo!” Anything that was one color on the outside and white on the inside. “Sometimes I forget that you’re brown,” they”d tell me. Followed by “You’re basically white though anyways.” Is white better? Pure? Angelic? Why else would hell be dark? I’m dark… Am I hell? Evil? Terrifying? I’m 110 lbs. 5’4”. I can pull myself out of a pool fairly easily, but I’m not hurting anyone…
“You’re basically white.”
But what if I don’t want to be? At 14 or 15 it seemed so unexceptional and idiotic to care about. A microaggression that stuck with me longer than I ever could have imagined. Its frequency was reinforcement. That there is something wrong with brown. “You’re so unique. So different! That’s what makes you beautiful.” Oh… Do you mean exotic? Yes… I’ve heard it before.
Not from here.
Like your rugs… Reinforcement. “Shave your beard next time. Customs and immigration won’t pull you aside then.” “Be unique.” But within OUR parameters. Exotic. Terrorist. Exotic terrorists?
Be more American.
But also, be fine when we take your traditions, your practices, your styles. You’ll make them into “the next big trend.” You’ll show me how accepting you are. How progressive. “See! I have a brown friend.” Does this excuse the countless times you’ve tried to rid them of their color? To shame? To isolate?
You’re basically white. You. Are. Basically. White. So reinforce, discredit.
You’re basically white you’ll tell me.
Page 2: Self-Portrait
Page 3: Hyphen
Page 4: “What do you remember about the Earth?”
Page 5: A Language That Opened My Mouth
Page 6: Help Me Get Ready: Monologue
Page 7: A Color I Can’t Escape