You are Black, or maybe Brown. Your hair nappy. You’re youthful and poised; round nose, full lips and thighs as dense as a stack of twenty dollar bills. You sit on the stoop of a “new building” in the hood and read Baraka, Giovanni and sometimes Shakespeare. The older women pass and slip you a fist full of change telling you to buy an icee from the hairy man who doesn’t speak English. Then you grow up, and go “home” every weekend to wash your clothes and talk to your black, or maybe brown mum who calls you white. You tell her that Africa isn’t a state and the reason she doesn’t have wrinkles has nothing to do with placing limes on her eyes but it’s the melanin in her skin. You tell her white is a color and not a language, so you can’t talk “white”. You tell her Bill Clinton was not the first black president and yes you crush on Ben Stiller. Your mum gives you a plate of Cou Cou and flying fish. You appreciate the corn meal and okra parachuting down your throat. The clothes are clean so when you finish eating, you kiss your mum on her cheeks and tell her you’re leaving. She offers you a cigarette and questions your honesty when you tell her you quit. Then you notice her shameful tears slithering from the history of her eyes. She accuses you of ignorance but you hold her anyway and avoid describing your alienation in a world where you were never black or brown just a pariah. Not a Bajan or American, just a fatherless, baby mama without a home. You want to tell her the world never sang your song and the music you invented only lives inside of you, but you grab your laundry and kiss her reminding her you will be back next week. You get on the elevator, dig inside your purse and find your wallet, taking a fist full of change for the black, or maybe brown kids that will be sitting on the stoop…
"Black or Brown" has been published by Moko, a Caribbean Arts and Letters online journal in Issue 9-July 2016 and is also a part of a larger piece titled: "Little Girls, What Has Ruined You?"