Negro, zwart, noir, schwarz, nero, preto, black. I have many different names from many different languages. I escape from mouths everyday, every minute, every second. Sometimes it’s from a kindergartener asking to color a tire or a pair of sneakers. Other times I’m used as a form of hate. I get screamed, cried out, and proclaimed. There is a stigma around me in some places. People use me to make others feel less. I lay on the skin of millions of people who are punished because of me.
I witness my people standing and speaking for their freedom, they are discriminated against because of me. They need crowds of people to hold them up while the opposite of me are pushing them down. I am proud of my people, we deserve to feel equal. I feel sorrow, angst, and pity for everyone who is beaten, bruised, and belittled. Me, I am just a color, a color that is dark and used for mourning. I do not understand why I got chosen to be placed on the skin of many.
There is a whole month dedicated to me and the greatness my people have done. I take pride in the strides and bounds that have come out of fighting for me to be equal. I have stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, in the cell of a South African prison, in the oval office, on a baseball diamond, and many more places around the world. For years I have been passed onto babies skin, doctors hands, politicians mouths. Do my people lose their wisdom when they die? Does their legacy die with them? It cannot be true, for what use, then, is this life.
I am just a color, a mixture of many different colors. My opposite is also just a color, a color that lacks mixture of colors unlike me. White…. It’s such a basic word. White is sometimes used like me in a negative way, exploding out of the mouths with the words supremist, privilege, and lives matter trailing behind it. I envy being powerful and the majority color. I also envy white because it lives easy, at least easier than me. It didn’t have to fight to be equal, respected, or free. My people have been broken down and we are so much stronger because of it.
I am just a hammer.
Being used to build things back up, but also to break and destroy.
I am everywhere, in houses, in churches, in schools, cars, jobs.
I have taken on situations I could not handle alone, without a drill or a saw.
There are millions of me around the world and each one serves a different purpose for a different person.
Black, white, purple, orange. Were all just colors. Colors placed on objects. So why are the two most basic colors the two that have the most disparity. I am a marker on a coloring book, or a powered off phone screen, or a shade of nail polish, but I am also a skin color.
Why does that one seem to matter the most?