For a Black Girl

Hey there! Thanks for checking out my work! I'm a senior Government major, English minor at William & Mary. I've always been a lover of stories, words & music. Through my poetry and songwriting, I ... [+]

Image of Long Story Short Award - Fall 2020
Image of Poetry
"You’re pretty for a black girl".
A qualification
for your racial equivocation,
as if my skin —
painted with melanin,
caressed by the sun —
is inferior to your blank canvas.
As if the ideal standard of beauty
was the Wednesday I came to school
primmed and prepped for picture day,
with my kinky coils straightened to a crisp —
a mirror image of seventeen magazine models.
That was the first day
you acted like you knew me.

"You’re well-mannered for a black girl".
An ignorant assumption
based on your media consumption.
My articulation
conjures an uncomfortable sensation
in the pit of your stomach.
Do you expect me to aggressively
roll my neck and put you in check?
Do you see me as a lascivious Jezebel
when I am sent to the principal’s office
because my khaki shorts fit a bit too well?
I am not quick to anger.
I will not raise my voice at your ignorance.
And no —
my confidence and passion
do not make me an angry black girl.
They make me a confident and passionate girl.

The next time I hear
"for a black girl",
I will no longer smile
with silent vexation.
Let me be clear,
do not be mistaken —
Black girls do not fit
into the box of haphazardly wrapped stereotypes
that you have so conveniently placed
in your mind’s garage.

Please leave your back-handed compliments
and yourself
at the door and remember that
I am pretty.
I am well-mannered.
I am articulate.
But not "for a black girl",
but because I am