Why Did You Make Me Black?

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I struggle sometimes with this notion of identity and how it may limit or free us to be or not be.

I love the notion of ‘threshold’ people…those whom exist on the outskirts and do not necessarily fit into one category. I love how Audre Lorde refused to be categorized and labeled as that versus this. In fact, I am constantly questioning, challenging and tweaking who I am…as a person…as a womyn….as a citizen of this global world. But one thing that I cannot and will not deny…something though which I may not always explicitly show, but that I am in fact undeniably proud of…is that I am a black womyn.

Hence I would like to share one of my favourite poems with you (since we all seem to be in a poetic type of mood :)) This poem, I came across when I was much younger and though my thoughts towards it have changed to an extent, it was still a defining moment in my life when I started to really appreciate parts of me and my ever changing and layered identy(ies).

Caveat: There is mention of God and one may argue that the inclusion of this traditional deity takes away from the essence of the piece but I challenge that. Regardless of your religious and/or spiritual beliefs, I think that this poem serves a purpose that should be recognized.
Also, though this poem may seem a bit distraught, it is the sad reality of many and should not be reduced to simply being a defeatist analysis on race.
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Why Did You Make Me Black Lord ….

Lord …. Why did you make me black?
Why did you make someone
the world would hold back?
Black is the color of dirty clothes,
of grimy hands and feet…
Black is the color of darkness,
of tired beaten streets…
Why did you give me thick lips,
a broad nose and kinky hair?
Why did you create someone
who receives the hated stare?

Black is the color of the bruised eye
when someone gets hurt…
Black is the color of darkness,
black is the color of dirt.

Why is my bone structure so thick,
my hips and cheeks so high?
Why are my eyes brown,
and not the color of the sky?

Why do people think I’m useless?
How come I feel so used?
Why do people see my skin
and think I should be abused?

Lord, I just don’t understand…
What is it about my skin?
Why is it some people want to hate me
and not know the person within?

Black is what people are “Labeled”
when others want to keep them away…
Black is the color of shadows cast…
Black is the end of the day.

Lord you know my own people mistreat me,
and you know this just ain’t right…
They don’t like my hair, they don’t like my
skin, as they say I’m too dark or too light!

Lord, don’t you think
it’s time to make a change?
Why don’t you redo creation
and make everyone the same?

GOD’s Reply:
Why did I make you black?
Why did I make you black?

I made you in the color of coal
from which beautiful diamonds are formed…
I made you in the color of oil,
the black gold which keeps people warm.

Your color is the same as the rich dark soil
that grows the food you need…
Your color is the same as the black stallion and
panther, Oh what majestic creatures indeed!

All colors of the heavenly rainbow
can be found throughout every nation…
When all these colors are blended,
you become my greatest creation!

Your hair is the texture of lamb’s wool,
such a beauti! ful creature is he…
I am the shepherd who watches them,
I will ALWAYS watch over thee!

You are the color of the midnight sky,
I put star glitter in your eyes…
There’s a beautiful smile hidden behind your pain…
That’s why your cheeks are so high!

You are the color of dark clouds
from the hurricanes I create in September…
I made your lips so full and thick,
so when you kiss…they will remember!

Your stature is strong,
your bone structure thick to withstand the
burden of time…
The reflection you see in the mirror,
that image that looks back,..that is MINE!

So get off your knees,
look in the mirror and tell me what you see?
I didn’t make you in the image of darkness…
I made you in the image of ME!

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2 responses »

  1. I think this entry should be categorized under “identity.” Western societies are characterized by individualism and making your own success, and yet we are not completely free to forge our own identities. We are forced into racial classifications not of our own choosing, so that, for instance, an array of people are considered “Black.” On the other hand, we can leverage these forced classifications by coming together as “Black,” or as some other label, or as racialized people, to fight back.

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