What Other Place Is More Mixed Up

Black is the color of my skin.
Well...
Not really 'black' black.
But kinda mocha.
You see,
My mother had been referred to as 'high yella'
And my father dark complected.
My sisters and I have this brownish tone.

My hair?
Nappy.
Well...
Not 'nappy' in the conventional sense.
You see,
I have dreads.
They look like braids.
But they are not.

My race?
Gee,
Let's see.
I remember when I was a 'kid'
I was then a Negro.
Then there was that dreaded 'N' word.
Then I became Black.
And 'proud' of course.
To be mistaken as an American Indian,
West Indian, Puerto Rican, Mexican...
And even Italian!
YES.
Because of my last name.
Well...what 'is' you?

Then I had an uncle,
Who thought he had to correct all of our dictions.
'Speak clearly! Enunciate.'
I would hate to visit my cousins.
'Is your father at home?
I hope not! '

Then there was a period when I was told,
'You think you white?
Trying to talk proper! '

Today?
I think more about getting my bills paid.
Or the ones I do pay.
I can not concern myself with race.
There are white folks wearing their hair in dreads.
Hair 'nappier' than mine!
Close your eyes and listen to today's music.
Is that Eminem? Justin Timberlake? Robin Thicke?
They sound better than some blacks that do it!
Madonna ain't no Beyoncé.
But neither is Patti a Gladys Knight or Chaka
Or Sarah Vaughn.
And that list can go on and on.
And Frank? Sinatra! Elvis, the Pelvis!

You know what?
With all this talk about color and race...
What other place is more mixed up than America?

by Lawrence S. Pertillar

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