As part of a month-long event co-sponsored by the Smith College Center for Religious and Spiritual Life, 30 Poems in November includes student-penned poems for the purpose of raising money (and awareness) about The Center For New Americans. This literacy center provide immigrants (as well as refugees) with the resources needed for them to learn how to read in English.
My Black Friends Laugh When I tell Them I'm Black
(by Yolandi Cruz)
...your skin is light
but I'm black!
... well your hair is too curly
but I grew up around all black people
... yeah but you got mad Spanish cousins
and y’alls accent gets too thick when y’all talk fast
Anyways what chu know about being black?
What chu know about slavery?
Your people didn’t go through Jim Crow or the middle passage
Martin Luther King wasn’t your king.
Rosa Parks did
not sit for you.
So what chu know about being black?
You don’t even smoke weed!
Or perm your hair
When’s the last time you got a weave?
If you can still get tan in the
summer then you aint
You said you put sofrito in your roman
...Man you ain’t black!
How many of your family members are currently locked up?
If you can’t name at least five off the top of your head,
you ain’t really black
How many pins have you pinned to your
North Face bag saying R.I.P Trayvon Martin?
Did you even buy the hoodie with his name on it?
Oh, you’re definitely not black.
And no, you can’t call me a nigga
cause even though we grew up together
you aint realllllly black
I used to braid my hair just like you
I used to perm my hair just like you
All my uncles are locked up just like yours
Man, I stopped wearing pins on my bag because I ran out of space
We all used to go to Brothers’ Market,
buy a cheese slice with a 25 cent tinny after school
So when did I stop being black?
or least when did I stop being black to you?
I know black is not twerk
it’s not perm
it’s not whitening cream
it’s not violent
it’s not ignorant
it’s not give up
Black is strong
you taught me that
My skin is too light to be black
but too tinted be white
to white America I am black and with justification,
my ancestors exploited through Spanish colonization,
my ancestors brought in the tres cascabeles
La Pinta,La Nina, y La Santa Maria
We are blood sisters
because my ancestors’ blood and your ancestors’ blood
were both spilled in the boats
My Taino empresses dragged out of their thrones
your African queens out of the Congo
tell me again how I’m not black?
How is it that I can be your girl but not your sister?
I’m not asking to be black
I’m asking to be loved
My skin may not be as dark as yours
But I still be queen like you