issue 2: oct 2015, Poetry
Comment 1

What To Say When They Want Your Tan by Michelle Gordon

What To Say When They Want Your Tan by Michelle Gordon

You want so much to look like me
You want my chestnut cornrows
You want the curves of my hips
The weight of my ass
The seductive fullness of my lips
You want the way my tongue and mind collaborate
To form a language that is branded on t-shirts
That headlines blogs
That are geared towards a generation born after the passing of hip hop gods
The caramelization of my skin
Is a prize for you to have
Summer after summer
My beauty looks good on you
But it doesn’t look good on me
My culture is edgy and chic in the hands of the masses
But ghetto and unappealing in the hands of the creators
Are you trying to flatter me?
Your sincerity I’m not buying
Let me ask you something
If you was to carry the weight of knowing
that you have to work twice as hard to get half as much as the next person
If you was to look at your college application or your resume
and worry about changing your name
Because it gives off a hint that you’re not what they had in mind
If you was to carry the anxiety of feeling like a walking target
When the police pass you by
If you were to learn in classrooms
Where the textbooks are 20 years old
The hallways are canvasses
And the teachers don’t hold their expectations high
If you were to muddle through
The constant stream of grief, joy, pain, love, and loss
That lies underneath the hipness
Of being a woman
Of color
And alive
Would you still want to look like me?

Michelle Gordon is a 28 year old New Yorker with Trinidadian/Jamaican roots. You can find more of her writing at Germ Magazine. Illustration by R Creatives.

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