by Joshua Lefort, 17, Canada
Black is a colour unable to reflect light.
Unable to feel pain, to rejoice or to cry.
Unable to breathe, to move, or to be alive.
For so long I have been defined as a foreign substance.
An outsider- An undesirable fruit:
Too bitter, too acidic, too sour, too tart… Too black
I have been born prey in a predator’s game.
I have been born black in a white world.
My freedom: locked away by the colour of my skin.
I am a modern slave.
I am a pawn in a game of chess,
Forced to tread carefully, move a step at a time, keep my head down and go unnoticed.
But I’ve learned that a pawn can succeed.
Transcend its label and become queen.
Defeat the undefeated, conquer the unconquerable
because without a biased system- without an army,
the opposing king is but a pawn in a Queen’s game
When we all act as one,
standing alongside our brother Trayvon Martin
who shouldn’t have walked out so late
or Rodney King
who shouldn’t have driven away
It spells out Martin King,
a man who once spoke of a dream.
Let this generation be the one where that dream is finally see.
I am not a mere colour designed to absorb my oppressor’s misplaced hatred.
I am not the stepping stone to a white man’s throne.
I am a ruby forged by the stifling pressures of racism,
tainted red by the blood of my people that has long been spilled.
The white man unbothered by the red blood sea
seems to only lash out when it washes ashore.
Enough of the performance activism.
Offer real solutions, fix real problems.
For you have littered the black man’s pathway to the garden of life.
Unlike the white man’s pristine yellow brick road,
the black man’s path has been left unfinished.
It has been made inaccessible. Yet, they expect people with no past to determine their future.
In Africa, they established existing kingdoms,
Depopulated rich states, enslaved promising minds.
Yet question its underdevelopment.
I shall rewrite my own story.
I’m no longer merely black but beautifully black.
I’m beautiful because I’m black.
My skin does not define my intelligence, my criminal history- my worth.
My darkened skin serves as my impenetrable armour.
My curly hair recounts a winding and turbulent past,
a past that has strengthened my bones and polished my skin to a glistening shine.
My voluptuous lips taste that of the sweetest berry
and my flaring nostrils speak to my bold and unapologetic character.
I will no longer question my validity
nor will I question my humanity.
I will no longer hide behind my skin
but rather live through it.
Because I’m beautifully black
and black is beautiful.