I Knew I was black.
I knew I was black because I needed a perm.
Because I got ashy.
Because I could fight.
I knew I was pretty because I wasn’t black as hell.
I wasn’t fat.
I wasn’t the girl no boy wanted.
I wasn’t nappy headed.
My lips weren’t too wide and neither was my nose,
and because my mother told me.
My father told me when I was 22.
I knew I was sexy because I had curvaceous hips.
Because my breasts were present.
They didn’t sag too much.
Because my thighs were thick “like hams”
Because my hair was always done and because my mother made me.
My mother always looks good.
I knew I was smart because I could read, write, speak.
I could solve a math problem,
infer on what was said,
apply it to the world around me.
My parents always told me had a smart mouth.
By the time I turned 17 my hair fell out.
I would stare in the mirror
rubbing the back of my head
feeling my “cabbage patch” and crying,
angry with God.
At 21, I had reached 210 pounds.
I knew I was fat. But I called myself thick anyway.
I would sit on the toilet, clutching my belly,
trying to pray the gut away.
I knew I was ugly.
So I cut the perm out completely
and picked my little Afro out.
Placed the scale in the closet
and never looked back.
I realized then, I didn’t know anything at all.