White by association


I used to wear my sister’s skin like a badge of honour

Her hair a military cap

Whenever someone spoke of family I’d say, “my sister’s name is Stacey”

and just like that necks would snap,

wrap around themselves to turn to me in surprise.


I wore her white girl name with pride, smiled wide and say

“the doctors thought she was mixed race when she was born.”

An ode to her lightness, the opposite of my likeness

somehow I thought showing off her bright skin would luminesce my own.


“And her hair is long too.”

Dark black tresses that went far past her shoulders,

she was keener, leaner, bolder and she wore that well even with the weight of the world on her shoulders.


Only difference was her features were African.

But who cares it’s only fair the balance comes someplace.


Broad nostrils, plump lips,

eyes so small they were slits,

she was yellow everyday.


And I was just black.

Gangly but short, like my hair,

which I only ever sport in updos.

My skin is dark, not too black but still matte.


My frontal gap is small and not much else is,

I have average eyes, an average nose and average lips.


From the side, my nose slopes in profile which onlookers find hard to miss,

but from the front there is a prominent wide bridge I am average.

And far from European.

My lips stay dry like Sahara, nostrils flare in heat, hair thick and unruly, skin knows how to weep sweat when it’s warm outside.

I am now African with pride.


And so now I don’t proclaim and won’t complain of my sister’s association with whiteness.

It no longer does a service to me.

I am free.



2 thoughts on “White by association

  1. Hey!

    I’m an illustration student and I came across your blog, I totally love this poem and I have done an illustration for it. I would like to show it to you before I publish it on my website, what would be the best way to get in touch?

    Thank you!


    Liked by 1 person

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