Jul 31
poem challenge: I am ...


You said You are not white like me,
And I could tell that you meant no harm.
It's within me that I hurt. Because I should never have felt ashamed of this,
but I did.

You said Do you have brown pride?
And my immediate response was Why wouldn't I be proud of where I'm from?
But what I truly meant was, How could I?

I hear it everywhere,
On the news when the Middle East is being demonized yet again,
Where all that is broadcast is images of "barbaric" people. Never once do I see the people who are hurting.
I know they are
for I feel their hurt with them.
No amount of ignorance or lack of press will ever dull this ache.

I see it everywhere,
When having olive skin is in an invite to be stared at, at carnivals,
letting my anger wear itself on my sleeve.
When I return to school after April break and get the comment,
You got dark.
And I hope it is a compliment but the tone is flat and gaze unphased.
I can never truly tell.

I feel it everywhere,
When halfway through the science class someone says
I hate Iran.
Soon my eyes will blur as I hear countries being tossed around in disputes.
Dripping waterfalls of fear.
The dialogue continues in my ear, They bombed us, they shoot down planes...
And you leave their people broken.
How could I fear my people?

I feel their fear at the airport. TSA glaring at me and my Baba. "Random selection" melts into racial profiling,
and three out of the four of us are searched more
I feel this when I turn to Baba and he is stone-faced.
He hardly speaks because he's learned that to wear a dark beard and melanin in his skin
screams for him to stay quiet if he wants this pat-down to go smoothly.

But what hurts the most is when the hatred resides in myself.
I know all cultures and colors are beautiful and yet I still
Yearn to be like you; to not be the child of a place so many hate.
When I let the voices make me think twice about loving who I am.

I am Arab.