I know you are tired of hearing me talk about my complexion. How I quiver when I flow out of my house with a tabula rasa and see skins recoil with revulsion. Some do it with fear, others point, ripple, and giggle and call me dirty, ugly, but quite pretty for my race. My face. My hair. Oh! She’s surprised that my dreads smell great. Who would ever have thought that anyone with dreadlocks could smell so nice! I know you are tired of hearing me talk about how the gatekeepers of this world have a different set of hoops set aside purposely for those packaged like me to leap through. How like the video games I play, there is always a higher hoop to scale, impossible levels to complete… so I can enter your countries, so I can enter your schools, so I can find love, so I can get a job, so I can dance like you.
Yes, I understand. I too am tired of hearing long nails scratch itchy skin. Tired of being the anomaly in your consciousness. Tired of the boiling blood coursing through these veins. Tired of wondering whether these lips are stretched too wide across these jaws, too thick for this face, whether the whites of these eyes are white enough, whether when they are bloodshot, other skins will recoil into their shells. I too am tired of worrying about how the laughing sun makes this oily face too shiny to be trusted.
Surely, it must be my fault that we suffer. Wouldn’t the world be much cleaner and nicer without my kind? No one asked me to be born this way. I should have weighed the races on a scale, sampled the most favoured, and rearranged these genes to follow suit. Surely it is my fault that I suffer. When I choose to seek this fictional world where the phantoms of fairness reside. It is definitely my fault for not accepting this reality that we live; that in the eyes of this world and its gatekeepers, skins like mine are more deserving of suspicion and absolute rejection for no reason at all. Woe unto you if you dare let us into your spaces without first making sure you have scrubbed us thoroughly clean. And even then…even then…
Mercy Ananeh-Frempong is a development consultant and technical/copy editor from Ghana, currently living in Cambodia, Southeast Asia. Mercy’s poems have been published in Paper and Ink Literary Zine (UK) and in two anthologies by The Writers’ Project of Ghana: Look where you have gone to sit and According to sources. She tweets at @mersy711 and blogs at magicmersy.tumblr.com.
Image: so there’s this fire hydrant by gilly youner (Creative Commons)