Melanin Permission Slip
by Jessica Fisher
Brown skin, curly hair
Black? Latina? Native American?
Maybe, but surely too pretty to be black
And not mixed with something
Does that make it more acceptable to love me?
Do you now have permission with the assumed dilution of my melanin?
Could your compliment be any more insulting?
This country’s history is so effed up
To a degree, intelligently, I know it’s a strong possibility
That there’s some degree of massuh’s blood
Mixed in with the motherland and native american
These are the women they raped
When they stole the country
But assuming my beauty cannot be mine
Without another race ‘enhancing’ me
Is curiously insulting
As if a darker version of me
Would be any less pretty…
I hear it all the time “Oooh, giiiirl, that hair is pretty
you must have some indian in your family”
Just stop it, PLEASE
I’ve never looked at a beautiful woman of another race and said
‘Oh, such beauty, you must have some African American in your family’
Why is my pretty dependent on
How far I’ve fallen from the African tree
Why am I pretty-dependent
Everything hinging on how you see yourself
Versus whatever you think you see in me
And whoever you voted for during this last race for Presidency
Allow me to reintroduce myself
I am soft-spoken and well mannered
I enjoy the art of using vocabulary to create poetry
I am college-educated, independent,
And somewhat spanish-speaking
I dance Kizomba, Bachata, Merengue, Salsa
And also Electric slide, Dutty Wine, and occasionally do the Wobble at family gatherings
I am a black person but my skin is brown
My color is an attribute of my body, of me
Culturally, it certainly helped shape my personality and upbringing
But DOES NOT give you leave to discriminate against me
My blackness both does, but also does not, DEFINE ME
Matter of fact, it’s I who should be demanding
A melanin permission slip to love me
Do you have clearance? Are you even worthy?
I am an individual who happens to be black
I am an individual
I stand before you black as ice is cold
I can trace pieces of my origin to Horntown, Virginia
Where my paternal great great great grandad
But look at me
My curls are too defined, my attitude too optimistic
My manners too refined, my words to articulate
Your inherently racist way of thinking
Inhibits you from seeing that I’m merely you
With an enormous stigma attached to my race’s identity
My descendants were Queens and Kings who came over as cargo
mistreated, raped, beat into slavery, then sold
Their blood built this country
It stains and curses the land we’re standing in
They died if they didn’t do as they were told
Today we are still being bought and sold
Still raped, murdered, mistreated, and beaten
Still the favorite feature in the police brutality videos
They’re still lighting up torches and wearing white hoods
But we will persist, just as our stolen ancestors did before us
When you see this beautiful melanin
You are seeing the epitome of natural beauty
In all its glorious rebellious persistence.
I. Miss. Obama.
oh, you Black, Black I see
Is it still okay to love me?
Do you have clearance? Are you even worthy?
I am a black woman, often looked and gawked at for my beauty and my body. I wrote this poem because this is the reality of my life. I also wrote it because, 9 out of 10 the times I had this ‘conversation’, the person saying these things to me, was indeed, another woman of color. That fact is both startling and unsettling. It’s also pitifully sad. It’s a testament to the deep-rooted, slave-minded, Willie Lynch Syndrome way of thinking that has continued to subconsciously poison how we as black people see ourselves. I wrote this poem to speak to and empower the little black girl inside of every adult black woman. I wrote this poem because that little black girl needs to know that she is worthy. She needs to know that we are stronger than they give us credit for. She needs to know that she is beautiful and powerful and it’s not her fault that the world can’t handle it. She needs to know that she is a queen, and it is the rest of the world who is not worthy. This poem is for any woman of color who is invisible because no one can see past her appearance. To all women of color out there, be present, no matter who it offends and who can’t handle it. Be Strong. I wish you all my love and good energy.
My published poetry collection is called “How Long Is This Scar Going To Bleed” and is available exclusively on Amazon. You can find the link to it here.