This story is part of Girls Write Now and Channel Kindness’ Kindness Collection. To learn more about Girls Write Now – a nonprofit organization dedicated to amplifying girls and gender-expansive voices – visit girlswritenow.org!
A short poem from the thoughts of a Black girl
“If there is no enemy within, the enemy outside can do no harm.”
If there is no hate within, no hate can escape
But how can one rid oneself of hate when one is born with it?
Hate passed down through generations
Built up over centuries, getting stronger and stronger
My anger is not mine.
I inherited it from those before me, a fire they constantly add wood to
Hatred of those who swim in gold
Envy of those who bathe in milk while others are famished
Scorn for those who lay in their mansions and scoff at those who beg
Loathing for their ignorance, their unawareness and unwillingness to understand
Resentment of those who live in the body of my dreams, which I will never achieve.
That bitterness runs deep through my blood
I cry from pain that is not mine,
I scream in agony from the open wounds from centuries ago that should have been closed.
From a young age I knew I was not wanted
I didn’t belong
I envy those with smooth silk that runs from their head
Their long shiny hair that moves like wind, overshadowing the cotton that is sprung from my head
Their eyes come out in rainbow colors that reflect the world and its elements
While mine is comparable to manure.
There is nothing beautiful about the color brown
It is often associated with dirt, worthless and repulsive
The color brown is not lovable, it’s not beautiful.
Is my life worth less than your feelings?
Always told to be proud of my color but never taught
Use your “black power” but not against your master
Why can’t I raise my fist to fight and protest?
How can I say I love to be black when that very thing puts me in danger?
Everything I was taught was to ensure the comfort and safety of other people
Bending over backwards and taking every negative comment
God forbid you ever fight back
Raising your voice makes you angry and an animal who needs to be muzzled and contained.
Like a snake I wish to shed the blood of the past
To let go of everything to stop the lingering pain
I wish to get rid of the enemy within.
I wrote this poem as a way to express how I felt to a certain person. It started with a mini debate on how race can impact someone’s everyday life. I was trying my best to explain to them how it impacted me and others. Over the course of this argument I saw the large and clear divide between our perspectives. It really made me realize how different my experiences were. I thought to write my experiences in the form of a poem because I always found poems to be easier to read and understand than essays. The first half of the poem came to me easily since I opened with a proverb that inspired me. The proverb helped me understand what I was going to focus on while I was writing. The second half was harder to find a focus for, so I had a lot of trouble writing it. After I took a small break from writing, my thoughts started to take shape.