has a gold tooth, sits long hours
on a stool thinking about money.
sees white skin in a secret room
rummages his sense for sense
dreams about Lincoln (s)
conks his daughter’s hair
sends his coon to school
works very hard
grins politely in restaurants
has a good word to say
never says it
does not hate ofays
hates, instead, him self
him black self.
The primary objective for phrases such as Black is Beautiful, Black and Proud, Black Girl Magic, Black Lives Matter, Black Girls Rock, and many others is to promote self-love in a society where hatred of the black body is the norm. They are also meant to combat self-hatred, which is very common within the black community.
Self-hatred stems from the internalization of others’ opinions about ourselves. Let’s look at hair as an example. For years, black women have put dangerous chemicals into their hair to alter its naturally kinky texture because the dominant society has said their hair is too “nappy,” too “ugly,” and too “unprofessional.” Today, many black woman are tossing those assumptions to the wind and embracing their natural hair, which is beautiful. However, there are still a lot of people, men and women, in the black community who don’t like natural hair, whether it’s preferring loser curl patterns over kinkier ones, or “liking” natural hair but still thinking the afro is unkempt.
Another example would be the contempt that upper (or middle) class black folk (or the black bourgeoisie) often have toward those from the lower class. They think they’re better. They may have a degree and a good paying job and so assume that all blacks who live on minimum wage are lazy. They may view all black men who wear oversized clothing and talk slang are thugs. They may try their hardest to fit into society and pretend they’re not as “colored” as those loud, ghetto blacks over there. They may spend most of their time trying to prove that common stereotypes associated with black people applies to ever other black person but themselves. They may prefer to socialize with white people or people of other ethnicities over blacks because blacks “don’t know how to act” in public.
All of these are forms of internalized self-hate. While some may not see it that way, we have to remember where assumptions like the “too nappy” afro hair or the “loud, ghetto, don’t know how to act in public” black person originated. It wasn’t from blacks, but after hundreds of years of being beaten down and oppressed by slavery, and later by Jim Crow, black people have unknowingly accepted those horrible stereotypes about themselves as truths. Now, we’re doing the jobs of the racists for them, putting ourselves down. It’s time we break that cycle.
For today’s BlaPoWriMo prompt, write a poem that embraces black beauty and promotes the love of all black people—relaxed and natural, quiet and loud, well-behaved and party animals, educated and street smart. Let’s break the cycle of self-hate.