Mykal-Michele Longino

Black Girl Burdens: A collection of poems by Academy Monthly

I am a fighter

 

Dear black girl,

As I step into these last decades I pray the lord my soul to take

I have been beaten,

Bruised,

Looked over, and down on

I write to you in hopes that my words will help keep you lifted

My girl, they want to keep you on the ground

To be a black woman in America, is to be accustom to the struggle

To be black

And a woman

Is to be

The most disrespected,

Unprotected

And neglected person in America

Black girl you have no choice but to be a gladiator.

The color of your skin will always be the elephant in the room

Walk with your shoulders pushed back,

Too many people went low

For you not to go high

They will beat you with their words

And they will smite you with their eyes

Black girl, my girl

You have no choice but to fly.

Fly away from here, go the furthest you can imagine

Then fly a few feet more, because black girl

They don’t think you’ll take action.

To be a black girl in America

Is to be the smartest women in the room.

The elegance you exude, trumps the stereotypes they presume.

Black girl you are no victim

They don’t feel sorry for you,

But I understand you.

Your pigmentation will always be the topic of conversation

But it is up to you

To choose whether or not you let discrimination be your downfall

Do not expect an apology

Never await a “thank you”

Black girl, the inability for them to see your worth

Does not change your worthiness.

I will be gone,

And I’ll soon have no choice but to watch you soar

Your success is a testimony

Black girl—you are magic

Black girl—you are a fighter

Black girl you are a queen, because you fought for your crown

-Mama

 

I am an intellectual

But I’m not supposed to be.

I think that I am beautiful,

But I am not supposed to think

Think

I think about life

What can I be?

What am I allowed to be?

What am I expected to be?

Mama says I can do all that I put my mind too,

But I am supposed stay away from distractions

“Stay away”

“Stay out of the way”

Girls like me are not supposed to find their way

But you

You are allowed to be anything you want to be

In a society that oppresses the black girl trying to be somebody

I challenge you to be somebody

Be curious

Be bold

Be so good they’ll have no choice but watch in awe.

Be so passionate that they can’t help but feel your pain

Make them understand

Understand that you are a light in an otherwise somber existence

Let your melanin be your light

I am naturally me

My hair curls so tight

They’ll make anyone spiral into confusion

Confusion is okay

It is okay to not know who you are

Identity is America's greatest query

Assimilation is America’s worst past time

You owe them nothing

You owe yourself everything

You read, you write, you fight

Because you can be everything they say you can’t

Opportunity waits for no man,

So you step up, and be a woman

Life will try and push you down

But you rise above

You set the tone

Be so good they can’t ignore you

You are intelligent

You are my sister

-Beneatha

 

I am your eye

And I see through their lies.

In this world dominated by white men

I remain your spy

Looking out from the inside.

And what I find is rarely a surprise

To me

Because I know

that we will always be the independent variable—

In their equation of assimilation.

Racism is born of ignorance

And ignorance we know,

To the ignorant is bliss

White people are not your friend

You do not get to be comfortable

The minute they see

That you think you are the same

You have become a threat

And they will have no problem putting you back in your place

You and they—are not the same

The color of your skin will forever be

The barrier keeping you from getting a seat at the table

But I am your eye

And I see through their lies

And when they do offer you a seat at the table just know,

that it is not because they enjoy your company,

It is because they enjoy your fidgeting.

Yes, I stand and I watch

And I smile and I wave

Because they stay waiting

For a reason to test you.

They’ll mock your intelligence

They ‘ll question your competence

And It is not your fault

It is however your burden

You are not their friend

You are not their token  

I am your friend,

I will be your friend

-Francine

 

I am every black woman in America

Suffering from the harsh reality

We call black privilege.

Black privilege is the blood that flows through me,

That was the blood that flowed through my ancestors

That is the hung elephant in the room.

Black privilege is always having to put a smile on your face

After some asshole says a racist joke

And you don’t want to cause controversy

Because then you would fall into the stereotype—

So you smile

In order to keep everyone around you comfortable

You smile

Because black privilege is making sure everyone around you is comfortable.

Black privilege is having a sense of humor,

Being forced to laugh when all you want to do is cry.

Black privilege is being scared all the time

Prying every time your father gets into his car,

That he won't be stopped by the cops

Hoping your brothers remember to pull down their hood when they walk into the corner store

Black privilege is me thinking I’m safe

As if the bullet cares about my cleavage and my wit

I am every black woman in America

And I am tired,

Tired explaining why my hair gets longer when I straighten it

Tired of appropriation

Tired of listening to white people talk about their encounters with discrimination

Tired of every story on the news being about a black boy,

Gunned down,

Heart stopped.

I am tired of wondering if I am safe in my own country

I pray for peace

I pray for equality

I pray for somebody to call my pretty,

And not finish the sentence with,

“For a black girl”

One day every skin tone will be beautiful

Dark won’t mean dirty

Light won't mean white

Nappy won’t mean nasty

And loud doesn't mean problematic

I am every black woman in America  

And I will not apologize anymore

For making you uncomfortable

I am your reflection,

-Lena