Fighting Stereotypes

You say

That I’m the whitest black girl

You’ve ever seen.

Now, I’ve heard it from other races,

But somehow

When it comes from you,

Another African American

It breaks my heart,

Not because I care what you think of me,

But because I care what you think of our race.

 

How can you believe

That our race doesn’t know how to speak

In a professional manner?

How can you believe

That, in general, white people

Are more intelligent and more proper

Than everyone else?

 

Yes, I went to a private, mostly white school.

Yes, you went to a public, mostly “minorities” school.

But why should any of that matter?

Why should our schooling matter?

You were still taught that “isn’t”

Is the more formal way of saying “ain’t”

And that “text speak”

Shouldn’t be put in an essay, letter, or email.

 

So don’t tell me you’re a victim of circumstance

Because I didn’t get any more of a chance

Than you.

 

I grew up

Down the street from a drug dealer.

At night I sometimes wondered

If the sounds I heard were gunshots

Or firecrackers.

The kids in my neighborhood

Learned to hide from the police

Instead of how to read.

 

Our base difference

Is our parents.

Mine sent me to a school

That nurtured my intelligence;

A decision

I really had no say in.

Mine made me read

So I would exceed,

Calculate

So I would graduate,

And think

So I wouldn’t sink

Into the background.

 

When I speak,

What you hear

Is intelligence.

It’s a result of education.

 

The real difference

Between you and I

Is that I wanted this

And you didn’t.

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