Is It Okay to Love My Skin

is it okay to love my skin? and i’m sorry-not-sorry if this discussion or topic makes your skin crawl like mine does whenever i see

is it okay to love my skin?
and i’m sorry-not-sorry if this discussion or topic makes your skin crawl
like mine does whenever i see police sirens
or confederate flags
or another black body running out of breath and time and life
i’ve spent my life uncertain of my beauty.
like i was not comprised of cosmic dust
blessed with earth’s tone
and i just want to know
is it okay to love my brown skin…
or does that scare you?
i throw paperbag tests in the trash
and retrieve my soul
i don’t know if you understand how paramount this is to
my survival.

i’d like to think that there was room on this planet
for this onyx soul

is it okay to smile back in the mirror?
can i love this African inheritance
or would it be more comfortable if i were that transparent opaque you keep trying to turn me into
dismissing my royalty
forgetting my triumph
disputing the value of my existence
so pardon me for finding tones of glory in my melanin

these days
self-love feels like a rebellious act
pride fees like a hate crime
how am i to tell my children to own their flesh with heads held high
when our middle and high schools still hold virtual town halls over pigmentation
debates on the virtues of beyonces versus kellys
crying literal tears over the sun’s gracious rays
baptizing them in God’s gaze
like their blackness is something to avoid
like each step they take isn’t a dream realized
like their grandfathers didn’t die to wave posters proclaiming

why should that scare you?

i tell them words that your magazines and tv screens and rap gods find hard to admit
the sin of truth
and say
you and your dark skin
your black skin
your god-kissed flesh
are TOO beautiful.
i will call my beautiful black boy by his name
tell him to stand strong
look each man in the eye when he speaks
walk with conviction
like the world already knows of your greatness.
i will let my beautiful, magical black girls know
they are daughters of an Amazon
and their lives do matter
and they are literally, statistically destined to be here
to exist
to take up space
despite all odds.
i will have them celebrate their kinky hair
their thick lips and full nose
own their identity and mobility
before someone else does.

should the day come when you hashtag me
be sure to include the letters B-L-A-C-K M-A-N
each one a vibrant verb
oh i love this skin I’m in
this trinidadian flesh
bred and fed by Newark streets
this is not anti-police
this is performative
because this is not a love waiting for someone else to validate
this fist has always been raised this high for me
sent from my ancestors
this is preparing a home cooked meal that i get to enjoy
this is crafting a new narrative for generations to come
this is my history, shaking inside my ribcage
like a calypso heart beat
you wish you could move like this

watch me
love my black skin
and if your response is hate
maybe you should ask yourself
why you love yours
so much.

– (c) Nicholas Steven George


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