empathy

IT’S TIME FOR PARENTS TO TEACH YOUNG PEOPLE THAT IN DIVERSITY THERE IS BEAUTY AND STRENGTH

Imagery by Paola Rojash

Imagery by Paola Rojash

 

I’m afraid to admit I was never aware of the colour of my skin,
Until I met him.

I’m afraid to admit, I had to see black to dream in colour,
By colour I mean ink,
And I’m still afraid to put this down on paper.

We stand in stark contrast to one another,
bodies become paper, we tell stories of histories neither of us remember.
Mine, my Irish mother, and the shared experience of her Nigerian friends,
Never shy about sharing their series of events,
They recall all too well the glass windows and the rooms for rent.
Incriminating, brandished:

NO BLACKS

NO DOGS

NO IRISH

This became my safety blanket,
In case I was ever accused of taking part in a conversation I had no business in,
I was ready to wrap myself in the bedtime stories of culture clashes and shared histories.
Never mind the poets I loved so much,
Angelou, Shire, Chin,
I was still afraid to quote them directly.
Like their words didn’t belong between my thin lips,
Like I was too much paleand not enough pain to comment.

Never mind the time I fell in love with a black boy,
And the way his skin made me feel like a strong Arctic wind,
I was too far removed,
On the other side of the world, the bed,
Entire continents formed in the space between us and I –
Just, kept, on, spinning,
Being told I would never, ever understand.
There was no place for me in a story where none of the narrators looked like me.
There was no place for me,
Especially when I look too much like the narrators we’re attempting to embed in history.

I don’t mean to offend.

But I want to be a part of this conversation.
I want to show that I can.
I want to join the ranks of Harper Lee and Peter Norman.

I am not colour blind.

And I am not responsible for my ancestors,
But I will not close my eyes when I can choose to open my mouth.
So I will continue to clutch my notebook like the musing of an atlas,
And I will continue to remember, shout and cheer – this;
You can quote me directly.

“It’s time for parents to teach young people that in diversity there is beauty
and there is strength”.

Admissions Of A White Girl, Elaine Stabler