By Cortney J. Rowe
I am not colorblind,
For color is in the broadness of your nose
And the fullness of your lips.
It is in the width of your hips, the greatness of your height,
And the length between your large, deep-set eyes.
It is in your earth-brown skin
And the ebony locks of your rosebush hair.
I see color in the way you move
As you sway your body to a rhythm
That only you can hear,
Your body telling a story
Beyond any words we know.
I hear color in the resonance of your voice,
The richness of it powerful enough
To bring mountains to their knees.
A voice strong enough to foundation
Rock, Blues, Gospel, R&B, Hip Hop, and Rap.
In your voice are all of your struggles.
All of your successes.
I taste color in the food you cook.
The rich flavors particular to your culture.
With cuisine brought over
By slave ancestors to feed their slave masters.
A cuisine both celebrated and used to stereotype
You and yours.
I see color in your appearance.
The vibrancy in the colors of your clothing,
The beaded wraps of your hair,
Your braids that ripple
Like river water.
I see color through the eyes of others:
The teacher who punishes your children
More than their White peers,
The store clerk who follows you around
Due to their expectations of your criminality,
The employer who tells you
That “You’re just not right for the job,”
Entertainment that reduces you
To secondary loud and violent stereotypes,
Politicians who bargain for your votes
While maintaining the status quo,
Police that play judge, jury, and executioner with your lives
With protection from law that’s supposed to protect you.
I see color in the trials of your ancestors:
The BaKongo of Congo and the Mandé of Guinea,
The Akan of Ghana and the Wolof of Senegal,
The Igbo of Nigeria and the Mbundu of Angola,
And other African people who were stolen from their homes,
Stowed like animals,
And sold into bondage.
I see color in your great-grandfathers
Who bled and broke to enrich lands
That would never enrich them.
I see color in your great-grandmothers
Who were defiled by slave masters
And forced to watch as their children were ripped from their arms.
I see color in your grandfathers,
Beaten and lynched
To keep them from rising above their captors.
I see color in your grandmothers,
Forced into servitude
For White children at the expense of their own.
I see color in your fathers,
Frisked in front of you
To teach you who has the real power.
I see color in your mothers,
Working multiple minimum wage jobs
To provide for you as best as she can.
In color I see in you a people who have survived.
I see a people who have survived
Limited job opportunities,
And much more.
In color I see in you a people who
Fought against their oppressors,
Told stories that uplifted others,
Created music that reached the world,
Rose to positions no one could have predicted they’d reach,
Pulled themselves up by their bootstraps in spite of not having boots,
Brought together dozens of divergent cultures, and
Crafted a uniquely Black identity that has survived for over 400 years.
For to be colorblind, I would be blind to
Your trials and your triumphs,
Your beatings and your beauty,
Your sacrifices and your survival,
Your fear and your flourish.
To not see color is to not see you.
I see color.
I see you.
Edited by Megan Lilly