by Taiwo Ogunnaike

i was the brown purdey with my own hair 
never wore that crocus coloured mask on my face 
everyday a reminder of my Blackness 
on those grass paved streets 
where the friends you meet 
are all foe 
i worked it out by all the names they be callin' 
golly, nigger, wog 
that i was the true outsider 
in vanilla landscapes 
that flavoured my palate 
now it's nubian 
then it was wog 
the class nazi paul webb 
once prompted me into violence 
by black slangin' me 
a day his midrift will never forget 
but it was never the black that smart 
the other part 
the offensive adjective 
whiteman made euphemism 
didn't matter that disco coloured diadora adorned my feet 
nor that i donned multi-coloured mother borrowed Gabicci's 
nor that my rhythm at school discos was always perfect 
through solitary 
and despite my academic stardom 
they never queued for my small dimpled black hand
to scribe an autograph 
i guess they would laugh if they knew my fears 
and that tears would be my reason for leavin' 
it scared them that 
i only dated skin 
that my own reflection was my own obsession 
not just theirs 
'til curiosity finally overwhelmed then repelled 
we're the same but not 
fuckin' a black girl does not inject oil 
into sand made moist what was very very dry 
we're the same but not 
my history is branded on the outside 
but my labels deep within 
we're the same but not 
like what were yo doin' in 1763 
no i don't know either 
but i know that i was there 
and i guess you'd be fightin' 
whose first to touch my hair 
strange thing is you were strangers too 
but acceptance was our middle name 
i guess that's part of the story 
and i'm so glad you came 
cos i've had the opportunity 
to turn around time 
it wasn't just netball i was meant for 
but i was born to rhyme... 

Retrospective by Taiwo Ogunnaike

© Copyright 1989. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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