What About My Skin?

Allow me to share an anecdote;
Imagine a dark girl in the dark
With her mother.
A TV screen glows as Miss. Universe waves
She is sparkly and smiling
The dark girl is almost screaming in excitement
Her mother simply smiles.
“Japan! Japan!” she cheers
For the pale skin she has always wanted.
Her hands reaching for the skin she has always wanted

Another story,
My teacher demands I sit in the dark,
The class plays outside as I am
Punished for a crime I did not commit.
She assumed because of my skin,
No one paler than me could have stolen anything
Whatever it was.
My mother came,
Demanding justice for her child.
The teacher cried, never seen
She carried a pink slip on her way out.

One last one I’m
I stood tall and dark on the playground
A paler girl glares at me
Her conviction is blinding.
She tells me
“You cannot come to my birthday
Because you're black.”
To which I reply “Black
Is beautiful.”

I was immediately removed from the school,
I was not allowed to let other kids feel
Not at home

In my own skin.

Everyone is paler than me, 
So I told myself “I’m not that dark.”
Like my brown was the gum on your shoes,
The bad word in my mouth.

I was,
Not okay.
I was told this is the Land of the Free
and yet
I have been cornered since I got here
Told I am very
Like a backhanded compliment

I was never comfortable,
And never allowed to be.
To politely step to the side.
To lust after lips not my own.

Smaller hips,
Thinner lips
Flatter stomach
I did not love myself.
My culture
Gum on my shoe
My native tongue heavy between my teeth.
I was scared of the dark.
Of being dark.
Starkly, a stain sitting on pure white linen cloth.
I felt alone, and inferior.
My culture never mentioned.
My blackness always questioned.

I am black!

What about it?
What about your thin lips that told me too dark?
What about your small hips and flat stomach?
What about the TV that tells me
happier people are lighter,
they tend to be thinner?
And excuse me, but…

What about me?
What about my dark skin?
What about my thicker lips,
My bigger hips,
Bigger stomach?
What about me?
Why do I  feel like
I have to hide?
What about my round nose?
What about my native tongue?
Why is it,
That my sister looks for skin-lightening cream?
Why is that
the majority of the ethnic section?
Do you want us to be lighter?
Do want me to starve to be thin?
Because I have tried!
I have corrected my mother’s English,
To iron out the Urhobo out of my tongue.

What about me?

What about my skin?
My culture cries for me to come home.
I want to go home, America.
What about me?
My culture?
What about my round nose?
What about my larger legs.
What about my not-so-flat stomach?
What about my thicker lips?
What about my skin?

What about me?

My name is Olubunmi Oni, and I am a high school student. I write quite a bit in my free time, and would like to be published on this site.