Sunday Stew: Unsolicited Advice for a Black Girl too Light to be Heavy but too Heavy to be White

by Nikkita Oliver (Painting by Tarra Louis-Charles)

 

In the Style of Jeanann Verlee

Unsolicited Advice for a Black Mixed Girl

Too Light to be Heavy, but too Heavy to be White:

When the girl in your class fixes her lips

to call your mother a “nigger lover

Fix her face

So next time she thinks twice

Before fixin’ her lips around anyone’s mama

 

When the kids on the playground start to sing

“Jungle Fever”

Join them

You must live

to fight another day

 

When the school principal calls

you into her office

to account for it all

Tell her to call yo’ Mama

 

When your white Mama

does not answer

the way you need her

Know that it is ok to be angry

She will never understand

what it is to be brown

She will come to see

white and light

are not the same thing

 

When proper speech becomes an allegation

code switching an accusation

When sounding white and acting black

become corners in your mouth

you cannot fight

Bring them together

like puckered lips

give your self a kiss

In you these things

are not in opposition

they are one

in the same

Beautiful

 

When your hair becomes fighting words

Your off-beat claps an inside joke

Learn how to tie your hair up quick (so it does not get pulled)

Learn to laugh (at yourself)

Get in the mirror,

Learn how to furrow your brow,

how to ball up your fist,

Learn how to show them

your serious face

 

Also, buy a Walkman,

seriously

Make mix tapes off the radio,

practice your tootsie roll,

butterfly,

cabbage patch,

harlem shake

until you have perfected their rhythm

for public exposure and

middle school dances

 

Take walks with your Walkman,

snap, clap, dance to your hearts content

Therein lays the only beat that truly matters

You are only off-beat with your self

when you are not true to your self

So be true baby girl

And remember what your Mama always says:

At least you can sing

 

When your black grandmother calls you white

cause you don’t like grits

When your white grandmother calls you black

cause you ate all the greens

Don’t eat the grits

Eat the greens

Or eat the grits

Don’t touch the greens

If you are gonna be what you eat

then be exactly who you want to be

 

When the white boys do not want to date you

When the black boys do not want to date you

When the black girls and the white girls

do not want to be your friend

 

because they think all of the boys want to date you,

say:

Fuck ‘em

Cause the first man to kiss you will be Samoan

The first women will be racially ambiguous

 

It is ok to see the gaps in human thinking

and wonder why we live these boxes

When your box becomes too small

Get out!

Do not live a slow death

Boxes come soon enough for us all

 

When you realize that something has come

and infected us all

When you cannot find the right words

to explain it
Do not blame yourself

Do not carve indictments into your own skin

The world will do enough

to put your flesh on trial

 

Do not feel guilty

For acknowledging the ways that we,

humans, hang our skin on dry bones

Building tents

where there are already holy temples

 

You mixed black girl

be beautiful holy temple

When too light to be heavy

When to heavy to be white

Be black light exposure

For you own zebra stripes

Never half of anything

Always everything holy you

 

So that when the girl at school fixes her lips

To call your mama a “nigger lover”

You can ball up your fist,

furrow your brow,

let out a laugh, and

Show her

How seriously you love

Nikkita Oliver is a South Seattle aficionado and will be participating in the Seattle Poetry Slam’s Grand Slam

8 thoughts on “Sunday Stew: Unsolicited Advice for a Black Girl too Light to be Heavy but too Heavy to be White”

  1. Puckered? You gotta be kidding me, I think black girl lips are the hottest and most kissable of all!
    And honestly, I only date black or mixed girls anymore cause my first few girlfriends were white and after my black ex, I don’t find white women appealing anymore.