The White Erased From Me – A Poetic Testimony (Spoken Word)

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A Poetic Testimony ©

About a 9m10s read
Written 08.08.09 by Kimberly Arland
From “Monologues, Poems, and Short Stories for Discussion and Ministry”
Copyright © 2018

I came from a dark womb, from a dark mom, into His marvelous light
The doctor slapped me, I opened my eyes and saw that my daddy was white
From an early age I asked why white was the directive
And why the part of me that’s melanin-free considers chocolate subjective
And why does white supersede black in my day-to-day,
But black supersedes white when it’s in my DNA?
So I decided it’d better to be just one color (chose my mother) and hoped I’d turn brown,
But the outside of this little girl didn’t darken—still the racists came around
Expressing such a deep-seated hate through their eyes, hands, and mouth
As a girl I wondered what I did to bring their violence out
They spat, cussed, chased me in trucks—those grown men even fought me
The day isn’t long enough to tell what this skin has taught me:
How beautiful some can be. Others? Self-authorized
To think they could put me in a box—their bias undisguised
They called me, “trash”, “ghetto”, “monkey”, “mulatto”, “mutt”, “mongrel”, “oreo”, “half-breed”…
Putting my mom center stage, and dad “control-a-delete”
How was I supposed to respond when they called me “Miss Pickin’ Cotton”?
I wondered, “Though I’m half white, to you I’m all black, so my daddy is forgotten?”

This is not to complain, to blame, [or] to vent, but to share some of my personal experience
Hoping we’ll lean a little more towards judging by fruit, not by physical appearance
And this is many people’s realities. Still others have walked a whole different road
And may have never had strange white men an inch from their face screaming to do what they’re told
Or demanding I go back to Africa not knowing I’m from just down the street
Or that I’m also part indigenous dealing with male pattern bald-faced conceit

Actually, I’ve heard many-faceted people spout multiple obscenities
Considering my blushing undertones a natural enemy
The white folks hated and the black folks hated—neither welcomed all my features
The school of hard knocks, God, and my mother, were my racial teachers
I learned, to you I’m most invisible—not close to light enough
And to you I can’t possibly relate ‘cause I’m not all black and stuff
But because we need to categorize, my earthly color is “black
If I use any other label, I find me facing your attack
In the U.S., I’m 100% black, even if I had just a trace in me
‘Cause with just one drop my dad becomes invisible and the white erased from me

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to be or not to be one or the other
I look how I look—it’s you who identifies me by the skin of my mother
And with her skin comes inherent twisted stereotypes
Told by identity-mistranslators of what color “means”: folks with pallid gripes

I thought if anyone won’t judge me outwardly, it’d be my parents that were blind
But my white relative had the eyes of the world and called me a “nigger” when I was nine
Sounds worse than it was, it really wasn’t as traumatic as you may think
Because at five, my mother called me “nigger” for days until I didn’t blink
Though it hurt her deeply, she had to, knowing I’d have to be immune
To all the folks who’d viciously call me that name, not knowing it’d be my other half’s tune

Now, I’m sometimes unaware of my color—until someone brings it up
And I usually don’t tell ’em (that’s a whole ‘nother story) but they start to look close up
The curls and waves on my head have them trying to locate
My place of origin, which differs for them when I wear my hair straight
They begin to guess, draw conclusions—inspect my face in wonder
I let them talk, it usually ends up they make a racial blunder.
Americans paint me with dark strokes—many of them visually neurotic
While well-traveled foreigners mark me “an exotic
In some cases they get excited, thinking me half-Asian
When truth’s revealed, they lose their zeal asking how I could be part Caucasian
And why is it when they guess I’m mixed, it’s assumed my mom is white?
Is it so difficult to imagine black wife being white husband’s delight?
When I’d tell them which is which their response, “Your dad white? Really?!”
I found myself qualifying it by saying, “It’s because my mom’s real pretty”
I didn’t know any better—I, too was deceived and fell into the trap:
Joining the unloving, hard-hearted, ignorant folks who broaden the racial gap
What benefit is there in knowing my parents’ hue?
To classify me? To better understand me according to you?
See, when we chat and I’m outside their box, they need to make sense of me
It becomes less about my character, more about ethnicity
The only person of color many had truly met was me
The rest were lying portrayals usually shown on their TV’s
And though it’s the majority that has often lead by misdirection
Those who did get to know me’d say, I was an exception
To all the other black people they’d met by observation
Through fallen nature…nurture…journalism, history books’ mis-education…
Who knows maybe I could’ve been a blessing to you but based on the stance you took
You chose to judge my cover rather than reading my good book

So yes, frequently appraised by my melanin, not as a human being
Objectified on two sides—their consciences sight-seeing
First “black”, then “woman”, on a good day, they’d see me individual
But too often things I’d do or say were inadmissible
One white person? Usually seen as themselves, with their own unique characteristics
One person of color? Often seen as them all—sweeping statements spread as realistic
So I was taught, I had to be two times as black good to be half as good as white best
To be partly seen, or somewhat heard, or ‘til they were slightly impressed,
I thought, “If I were my dad’s shade, would I be equal to you then?”
No. My hair and nose trump the privileges that came with him

I’m fortunate to know, my value’s not in my y chromosome
Or whether I’m seen as a multi, or as a mono-tone
My focus is mind & heart, are my motives pure within?
If I love God and love all others, I’m comfortable in my skin

So, people and their forms may white erasure from my being
And people’s closed minds can darken eyes by what they’re seeing
I’m not discouraged. I was created on purpose and enjoy this skin I know
It’s just too bad there’s displaced identity towards us in darker tones
Rejecting or accepting others according to how they’re shaded
Is a loss for you and a loss for me of a blend that God created

My life-long observation is just a fraction of a rhyme
Of all God sees and hears within our secret paradigms
Where we’ve made prejudicial distinctions among ourselves—become judges with wrong motivations
Calling evil good and good evil—basking in subjugation
I’ve long known this fight’s not against flesh and blood, but against powers in the air to divide
So I encourage you who have ears to hear to fight against the lies
When we misjudge by outward image, we sabotage beneficial relationships
It’s a matter of love and maturity of which we’re not yet well-equipped

There’s so much more to say, and more meaning to this poetic testimony
It’s deeper than mom, dad, black, white, bullies, or our partiality
Our love walks are crippled, our consciences are seared
Our empathy, our “do unto others…” has mostly disappeared
Our monochrome thinking sadly dulls our beautifully color-filled senses
Keeping you and I in and you and I out behind long-established fences

I grew up without those fences—had diversity of family and friends
Now, I refuse to settle for anything less than this motley blend
I hope you can see through God’s eyes this prismatic beauty I see
Instead of the black erased from your life and the white erased from me
I see yellow, brown, black, white, and glorious red—all colors works of art
As my brothers and sisters in spirit—God -given counterparts
I need all kinds of people in my life to expose what I need to uproot
From my own work-in-progress heart dwelling in this temporary earth suit

I’m so thankful for this array who’ve shown me love I haven’t earned
This spectrum of friends, even enemies, and family from whom I’ve learned
Like my mother, knowing how they’d treat me, prepping me as a kid
She taught me who I was and who I was not, crying while she did
Because of her the sting is long gone, and now I’m called by The Name
Of the One Who said I’m wonderfully made and took away color-shame
He sees me through blood, and red is my color, along with my heavenly kin
Inside, I’m not black, I’m not white, my identity’s in Him
He died for my sin not my skin

John 7:24 (AMP)
Colossians 3:14 (AMP)
Philippians 2:3-4 (AMP)
Romans 2:11 (AMP)
Matthew 5:43-48 (NKJV)

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