This I Believe: Hey Black Girl

Feb 26, 2016

“Hey, Black Girl! What do you see?”

I see she is embellished with gold and lacquered with ivory. In the lush savannah grass, I see where my father’s ancestors, the glorious queens and heroic warriors of Nigeria, spilled their beautiful crimson blood to inundate their land. I see Africa varnished in majesty. But she does not want to see me.

She tells me my Yoruba and Esan has been glossed over with English. She disowned me because I have been baptized in the land of misopportunity.

They ask “Black Girl, what have you heard?”

I heard me yelling “ Daddy? Where are you? Daddy, isn't it funny that they told me that freedom rings? But I heard the phone ring. They told me the deportation train is coming. White man says you have a one way ticket.” “Mommy, did you hear the Jim Crow South and Klu Klux North chains clink when they took your people from their land. I heard for centuries we’ve been trying to run away from the plantation but we can’t get past this redlining. Wait, I dropped my rag doll a few miles back! Mommy, why don’t the dolls in the store look like me? Aren’t I pretty?” I heard my answer come from the kids on the playground. Their spiteful words pierced my melanin like daggers.

“So Black Girl, what are you?”

They say I am Monkey. My nickname is Ghetto. And my birthright is Ebola. And I can only laugh when my own people tell me my black is sin. So I straighten my hair and weave it in hopes the hurtful words will die out. I’ve rubbed bleach on my skin hoping it would white the black out. But mental scars don’t fade. See I’ve tried becoming African hips and American anorexia. I broke my back trying to bend my soul to be the girl boys and social media hungered for.

“Alright Black Girl. What do you want to tell them?”

I want to let them know I will not choke on their lies any longer. I hope they can feel the tears on the paper because there will no more tears on this black skin. Tell them that I learned my skin is not the wrong color and my curves are fine. My hair is not the wrong texture. They will not subject me to a fat back side and big lips. This is a war cry. I am a beautiful black queen. My potential is infinite. Tell the magazines my darkness is not a void. Remind social media that in every darkness there is light and like the stars that shine in the night sky, my heart will glisten pure gold. I will bear my scars with pride because they are a testament of my survival. With all my Nigerian­American heart I will cry, “Dudu re, àwö ara, ìyèyè, ati funfun ni o wa gbogbo se lẹwa.” Your black, brown, yellow, and white are all equally beautiful. In this I believe.