She dodged the mirrors decorating the bathrooms and walls. The sight of her reflection was too foul, too disfigured she couldn’t stand her own appearance. Her body built bulky, it out weighed her personality. Her stomach rolled on, layers upon layers of negro stories each holding a secret, she had many to tell but no one listened. Heavy Chunky Thighs made Heavy Black Burdens. She used to vomit and cut out the excess in an effort to obtain “the best version of herself”. No matter what lengths she went to impress the boys at school, we all know with the tags she wore on her back that read ” Black, Fat, and Angry” were of the least desirable kind. Black eyes that begged to be considered brown and beautiful seen fatalities of the colorful kind. She saw rainbows smeared on the streets, colours ranging from blue to white, black to red and everything in between. Cruel commentary cuts through her layers of skin with a sharp knife and an Orange BIC Lighter. Exposed flesh painted with blood, skin torn from her wrists to her elbows read her deepest fears and thoughts. Her blood dripped all over her collection of suicide notes, in total there was more blood lost to the papers then there was circulating her body.

Black and Beautiful only applied to the ones who could pass the paper bag test. Other’s like her forced cotton down their throats and bit down on their tongues every time the master called them a “Nigger Bitch”. Her beauty was in the eye of her beholder, and he held her, he held her down with rope to the wooden bed frame and a gun to her forehead as he raped her. No bullet could have done the damage of his bastard babies they penetrated through more then just flesh, they impregnated her mind. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. She never knew her own beauty.

She stood in her bathroom facing the mirror.

It had been the first time she had looked at herself in months.

Something about her appearance was so familiar but too foreign.

Tweezers in one hand, while a tight grip in the other.

Raising her hands to her face, they shook.

She had no control.

Puncturing her pimples deemed imperfections.

Blood and puss ran from her forehead,

like the tears of her mother

while she sat next to her dying daughter’s hospital bed reading her latest goodbyes.

Scars mimicking bullet holes.

Her skin so dark, so deep, you can’t see the blemishes.

She’s covered in them.

She wrote and bled. And wrote more and then bled more but this time her head hit the ground before her last drop of blood even touched the paper. She didn’t think her wishes would ever come true so suddenly or early, without any warning but unfortunately for her they didn’t.

 Drugged on her insecurities.

Fed intimacy to stay stable.

Wounds bound with abuse,

no bandages were needed in this process.

She opened her big black eyes.

Awake, naked and vulnerable her nightmares became her reality.

 She was terrified of everyone seeing,

the hips that bared children of rape,

none of them would know their own father.

The skin, bruised, beaten, cracked,

white lines covering black skin

made by

white whips cracking onto black backs.

The arms that spent hours on end behind her head

as the man in blue was looking

 for his weapon of execution

as he screamed “Stop resisting arrest !”

He was all out of bullets.


that she prayed they would place at the foot of her grave

because no girl, no person of that complexion is worthy of flowers.


that she was too familiar with

embedded in the roots and branches of her tree.


that pierced

but would never leave the mark

of a child.

Skin stretched beyond her shadowed confinements

a womb brought into the light.

Half-white, Half-ashamed.

The stretch marks wrapping around her body

like the ropes around her peoples’ necks as they hung from trees.

Oh, how their bodies swayed in the wind like flags,

Tree branches like flag poles.

The real confederation flags.

Blue, Red, Black

Lest we forget.

The stories of every black girl ever.

Please don’t forget us.

About me: Safiya


There was a girl who could still remember so much of her childhood but the quantity came from the quality of these memories as there were only a few.

There was a girl who aspired to be Prime Minister of Canada, when she was young. Oh how things have changed today.

There was a girl who doesn’t remember any moments of unhappiness but only many giggles and smiles. A girl who had the world at her feet, who skipped and sprinted through it as if there will never be  a unseen block along her path ready to throw her off her feet.

There was a girl who had an idea of who she wanted be and how she was going to get there because to her it was just another puzzle piece to place correctly in here her life.

There is a young lady who learned that her puzzle was not only missing pieces but also had a few that belonged to a different puzzle entirely.

There is young lady who has moments of her dream future flash in front of her eyes as if she is really living it and just reliving a past memory. As if it were really that easy.

There is a young lady who as she awakens from these wonderful dreams she falls into bottomless pits of emotions she does not feel worthy of feeling. A  young lady who knows her life is great, who has never had to go a day without food or roof over her head yet these unwanted feelings still find a way to invade her mind.

There is a young lady who doesn’t always feel like this. A lady who sometimes has to force herself to see the good and one who can occasionally find it as is she has always had the key and map needed for the treasure chest filled with  what should be a luxury of her life.

There is a young lady who is slowly finding the pieces of the puzzle that fit together to form her life and discarding those that do not belong. This young lady knows that time is the best medicine and holds on to the idea that things will get better to help her get through life day by day.

There will be a women who has maybe completed most of her puzzle or is content with what she has so far.

There will be a women who is living her dream or a life that comes as close as possible to it as possible.

There will be a women who won’t need a map and key to tell her where her treasure is but one who will see it everywhere she goes. A women who is absolutely fine with where she stands in her life and is ready to own it.  Whether it throws rainbows or storms she will find a way through it because this is her one life not to waste.

And if you haven’t figured out yet this girl who grew to a young lady and is finding who she is as a women is me, Safiya .


My body is the sanctuary of my lineage,

the safe that holds an inheritance too great

for me to apologise it away,

for me to denounce the differences in my complexion

simply because of their colour.

Identity is encoded into my body

like needlepoint spots of every hue

weaving paintings from the shades of my bruises.

The pigments of my skin

fit the whole range of the spectrum,

yet somehow, I am only ever seen

as a dusky shade darker than white.

It began when prejudice crawled into

the cardboard corners of my crayon-box

and tried to make me understand

that I was less of a human being

simply because I didn’t fit

onto the lightest, brightest section

of the colour wheel.

I’ve met the cold, grey eyes

who believe in uncoloured sterility,

but my eyes are kaleidoscopes

with stained glass irises, seeing

that somewhere in their achromatic psyche,

they confused prejudice for purification

and bleached away their humanity.

I want to spill every colour from my body,

make them realise that the canvas of my skin

isn’t dark because there is dirt embedded in it;

it is dark because it is a fusion of every colour,

because it is a prismatic collection

of everything undefinable by a single shade.

I will not decolourise the parts of me

that are too bold to be monochromatic,

too complex to be folded into a label;

my skin is painted from a thousand points of colour,

like a picture made of pixels.

Don’t ascribe a hue to me

when you haven’t seen me living in rainbows,

and don’t understand how

there is no one colour to tint

the human spirit.

My skin has been painted

with the bruises of every ancestor

who fought to claim their colour.

Now I claim my own pallet:

I draw variegations onto my bones

with the raw spectrum of my crayon box,

finger-paint marbled streaks

into the ridges of my face,

tattoo onto my heart the pride I hold

for being arcipluvian.

This poem is an expression of what it means to be ‘coloured’. From the beginning of my life, I was taught how to be a coloured child; I was spoon-fed labels to remind me that my classification as a person was dictated by the shade of my skin, and it never ceased to amaze me that people could define themselves and define others with a single hue. I believe that as human beings, we are multi-coloured. It is those who seek to separate people into sections on the colour wheel who have a lesser understanding of humanity. As people, we are complex beings who I do not believe should be constrained by labels, especially when it comes to race and other significant factors such as religion and sexual orientation.

Our bodies and our personalities are uniquely important and are an expression of our heritage. I do not believe that anyone should ever have to be ashamed of who they are, and this poem explores how individuals should not have to tie back their multi-faceted selves with the restraints of labels. Especially regarding race-related prejudice, the main message of this poem is that skin colour cannot ever account for the entire complexity of humanity and that individuals should not have to be suppressed by those who are short-sighted enough to value one skin colour over another.


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