Melanin Permission Slip

by Jessica Fisher


Brown skin, curly hair


Black? Latina? Native American?

All three?

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’

It’s cringe-worthy

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

Was sold

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

The reality…

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

More reality….

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.

Three words

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


Posted by:KANDAKA

3 replies on “Melanin Permission Slip

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