by Shay Patrick

I don’t remember learning much in my primary school days
Except that each historical or cultural lesson took us at least 2 months
And then we reached February
The section of my textbook looked thinner than
The words seemed carefully placed
The truth unpacked
We began with the Atlantic slave trade
No specifics on the homes these bodies were stripped from
When I asked questions no answers were provided
Just directions to a corner, and a head full of thoughts/questions like
Did they wear gold and kentia cloth like the pictures I see
Were they darker than me
Did the lighter skinned girls sit at the top of the boat
Did they hold up their red noses
Did they watch in anger or with closed emotions
when their darker counterparts got thrown over
Centuries later we scroll over
The dark skinned girl being photoshopped next to a black leather couch
or the light skinned girl with freckles being cropped beside a rotted banana
It’s team dark skinned team light skinned
On the S.S. twitter ship
Sailing down the sea of statuses on a timeline
Do the two teams rival for survival
Dark savages fighting to stay alive in the cargo
Light skins having identity crises living in chains and cabins
A twitpic posted of brown bodies aligned on the deck captioned
Favorite if you prefer light skin
Retweet if you prefer dark skin
This will prove who’s the prettiest whose human enough to be raped
25,000 RTs to see a vine of the ships crew invading these brown vessels
If 100,000 followers, light or dark, realize we are voyaging on the same timeline
Can we turn the ship around
Can we stop teaching each other
That being brown and black is alright
As long as our black has some white
And God lessens our curves
And curves our curl pattern into spirals, not coils
That we are only useful in a tray full of watercolors when we learn how to properly blend
Our history keeps forcing us to divide
But there is no order of operations for black skin
So I challenge us to stop trying to solve for the X
When looking at the phenotypes of our brothers and sisters
But to study the Y in which
It is hard for us to admire the various ways of blackness
The red hair and thirst for freedom of Malcolm X
The mocha skin and unapologetic message of Assata Shakur
The blind eyes and open mind of John Henrick Clarke
Unlearn the idea of not asking questions
Unlearn the statement of “this is just how it is”
We are a people with a history
That teaches us the terms race and color are interchangeable
But I promise when we look pages deep we are so much more beautiful than that

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