The Itis


One brown paper bag.

It all started with one brown paper bag

Against the charcoal of Mother Africa

And the sandpaper of Nefertiti,

And the rift grew into a canyon.

The cocoa-drenched emperors

That dared impede on the caramel inhabitants

Were now too dark for Hispania,

And just dark enough to be called


The soil infused enigmas

Were but a symbol of slave hood

And the bottom of the caste system

For Spaniards of the fairer shade.

We now find ourselves reaching for the proud hashtags of

“#teamlightskin” and “#highyellagirl”

As if it strengthens the heart

Trapped beneath this thin blanket of shame;

As if everyone should fall to their knees.

And so little black girls learn to hate themselves

And little black boys project “black-e-mo” onto them

As an outlet for their own self-hatred.

And mothers bruise their knees

Praying for a pretty baby with light skin;

Begging to not get stuck with an ugly dark beast of nature,

Only designed to embarrass,



Our queens have been made into jokes,


Swamp monsters.

And our kings have been made

To agree with this trend.

But will it be trendy when your dark-skinned daughter

Learns to associate herself with slurs

Before she learns fractions?

Will it be trendy

When your son is fed seeds

Manifesting the growth of a bully

To his fellow black beauties?

Will it be trendy

When you catch your daughter

With a tub of skin bleach in one hand

And a tub of relaxer in the other?

Will it be trendy

When your children

Refute “black” as their race

And chase the white gaze for approval?

Will it be trendy

When the silence consuming the bathroom

As she probes her face regretfully

Becomes permanent?

At the rate we’re going

Maybe it will.

If we keep comparing dark skin to mud baths

And light skin to sole beauty

It will.

If we keep calling black women “darkie”



It will.

But imagine what we could do

If we represent the African American face.

Show little girls

Light or dark

That they matter.

Show them that their regality

Will never pale in comparison

To what the white gaze prefers.

Show them

That human life is the key to happiness;

That skin color teams are imaginary,



That the line between preference and ignorance

Will be crossed and blurred every day;

That their skin is only a layer that feeds into the sweetest center of the cake;

That their success will outlast

The superficial whitewashed standards;

That “good hair” is the hair on your head;

That their looks are nothing compared to their soul;

That they are not a minstrel show,

Created for amusement;

And that when they least expect it

Privilege WILL exist,

Racism WILL exist,

Fetishism WILL exist,

Colorism WILL exist

As paperweights on their wings.

But we WILL fly

We WILL soar

And we WILL explode into the stratosphere as royalty, too.

Just give it time,

Because what would stars be

Without an obsidian sky to enclose them?


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