My hair is brown, eyes blue, skin desert-white,
my speech a TV anchor’s, brain in books
I carry in a bag that’s never light.
So if you met and measured me by looks,
without my dad near, heard the words I say,
you’d never pry behind it or surmise
the crazy twist of mish-mash DNA
that made me black in name and white in eyes,
so white, when I’m around the neighborhood
none pull away fearing I’ll pull a blade,
so white I write, so white my grades were good,
just black enough to need financial aid,
so white they’ll trust me: “Date my daughter? Sure!”
so black you always think you owe me more.
But do you owe me? There is not a thing
That I’d accept as anything I’m not.
So owe me if you like, but I won’t fling
My conscience to its knees for what you’ve got.
I never tired my arm to catch a taxi,
had shifty people shun me on the bus,
never slunk on the street to this: “He’s black, see?
Watch out for him!” Such thoughts as gutwrench us
but permeate the deepest, decent mind,
festered in the subconscious ... No, I was
the teachers’ hope who never lagged behind
for lack of books or parents. But because
of blood alone, sad words I hear
like “race advancement” lacerate my ear.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.