Featured in issue 2 of Marker
You say that you are colour blind
and I cant help but wish I was a lot like you
I wish I was colour blind too
you see the pigment in my skin will never let me forget of her stories
she tells me,
“Never forget that you are a coloured woman;
you were marked since the day you left your mom’s womb”
In elementary school I had nicknames.
I was always that token black girl in my classes;
the one with no friends.
I hated everything about me.
From the shape of my lips,
and the colour of my eyes,
to the curls of my hair,
the accent of my parents,
and the colour of my skin.
I was that child that lived in an impoverished apartment on affluent white territory.
I was that awkward child.
That child that ate food that reeked of strange spices.
It took me a long time to realize that being different wasn’t so different after all;
it all depends on who’s measuring stick you use and who you want to compare yourself to.
I am that same awkward girl,
but I learned to love and respect every bit of my identity.
My skin tells me to never forget of where I come from.
She tells me,
“Never forget that your parents had to walk through deserts to get here.
How they left the comfort of their homes in order to make their own dreams a reality.
All the hardships they endured.
How they were treated as second-class citizens in this country.
How they had to expose themselves to different norms and values and had to understand all this in a different language.”
She tells me,
“Don’t forget that you do not fully belong here.
You might be first world but you have third world tattooed all over your body.
Don’t look at me as if I am merely a bad sunburn.”
“Remember that I am symbolic to your people’s history so learn your history.
I am symbolic to your people’s culture, so learn your traditions.
I am symbolic to your mother’s native, tongue so learn your native language.
Make sure your roots stay firmly underground; don’t allow yourself to be uprooted.
Don’t let them tell you who you should and should not be.
Have pride in your heritage.
Don’t try to change me,
and don’t you dare ever forget of me.”
She reminds me everyday that she exists;
Forcing me to take notice of her,
forcing others to notice her.
You say that you are colour blind,
but you tend to assume things about me even before I get the chance to open my mouth and speak.
You think racism has died, but then why do I hear it in her voice?
I see it in his face.
If racism has died why is it that when someone says shit like, “Go back to your country”, others turn their heads in silence with no objections?
I guess that means they agree.
So I am sorry if I don’t believe you when you tell me you are colour blind.
It is not righteous of you,
neither is it polite.
In fact my skin thinks you’re kind of rude.
She is begging for your attention.
She wants you to know she exists in bright colours you cannot hardly miss.
She wants you to notice her scars, her pain, and hear her voice with your eyes open.
She is not asking for your approval or your tolerance,
she is asking for you to respect her,
and paint her in colours rather than leave her in random shades of grey.
By Ahlam Sadik