A Juneteenth Poem by Shalisha Cook
I remember wishing that my skin was the color of sand paper or pale like some of my closest friends. Internally, I envied how everyone looked at them. They were considered beautiful, desirable, girlfriend material, but I was not. Many people that interacted with them, treated me like a shadow that was good enough to exist but not be seen nor heard. I was the black stain that tainted a trio of porcelain dolls that everyone seemed to be in love with. I cried in front of mirrors because I didn’t look like them.. Hoping that somehow I could articulate and smile my way into a higher standing.
But buried deep inside of me, there was this hate of my melanin that stemmed much deeper than the fact that I could go from Shalisha from Camden to Shalisha the Valedictorian. Or in other words, Code switch on cue.
Honestly, I hated me. I hated me. I hated me because in this society, I grew up knowing that women who looked like me, had to work harder, be smarter, be twice as good as everyone else, yet people still would overlook me.
My voice would be heard but never listened to and that made me want to be someone else. A person that was a bit less blacker, browner, or any features that made me less “Beautiful”.
However, over time, it seems I became blacker, browner, my hair grew kinkier, my vibe more unapologetic and my true beauty shined through.
I learned that I didn’t need , lighter skin or whiter features to be loveable to the outside work. I only needed my blackness to be loved and celebrated by me.
I realize that I could never be Like them