I Prefer My Body in the Morning

I prefer my body in the morning,
when there’s a faint taste of
last night’s dinner on my tongue,
when my stomach is leveled flat
like measured baking flour, and
growling from the calories
it burned in sleep.

I prefer my body in the morning,
when my thighs haven’t swollen
from too much salt, and my panties
glide over my hips like silk,
when the water that hugs my
waistline has receded, and the
stretch marks aren’t taut from
menstrual bloat or Mexican gas.

I prefer my body in the morning,
when I can turn to the side and
half see a figure in the full
length mirror, when I can breathe
in my gut and it not appear
too obvious, when I can squat
and a round buttocks starts to
take form, when I can tuck the
fat with the tails of my blouse
into my pants and not morph
into the shape of a pear.

I prefer my body in the morning,
when I can strut with confidence,
when men turn their heads, when
caking makeup becomes an
accessory instead of a mask,
when I’m three pounds lighter
than I will be after lunch,
before I skipped breakfast,
and binge ate dinner.

In the morning when I wake,
when I stare at my naked
reflection, cup my breasts
in my hands and push them up,
it feels almost enough—I feel
like I could be . . . enough—

—Nortina

Black Poetry Writing Month: Write a Poem that Promotes Self-Love

Black Bourgeoisie

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.

—Amiri Baraka

 

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.

woman-with-natural-hair

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.

—Nortina

#BlaPoWriMo: Boycott the Dark Girl (poem)

Boycott the dark girl!

Don’t tell them about race; Middle America
doesn’t want to face your afros and wide nose,
your full lips and round hips.

Boycott the dark girl!

Rip open your blouse, measure the humpback
on which a nation’s edifices are housed,
count the scars from raw cowhide
whipped in formation of a chokecherry plantation.

Boycott the dark girl!

Mend your heartstrings across the violin bridge,
play an empowering song with the bow of your fist.
Splash shades of brown through the stadium field—
a prism of acceptance, their politics must yield.

Boycott the dark girl!

A call for peace, an end to violence
is an attack, they say.
You were beaten, raped,
your genitals dissected and put on display.

Dance on the boycott, dark girl;

Hatred can’t make them turn you away.
Your purple skin is imperial; reclaim your domain
as you slay on the stage in Black Panther berets.

—Nortina