My Only Mistake

The first time I was told to go back to where I was born

I looked the assaulter squarely in the eyes –

Was that my first mistake?

Afterwards I thought I should’ve kept my head down – for my sake

Then I would have never seen those eyes, sharp with so much hate

That poisoned me, told me I was second-rate.

I felt that pain more deeply than anything I had ever felt before,

Because I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that she

Despised my own shadow, the very imprint of my existence –

She didn’t even know my name.

 

The first time I was told to go back to where I was born,

The next thing I did was look around me for support –

Was that was my second mistake? I saw no faces;

Just wide eyes above taped mouths,

Whether from north or south

Didn’t matter. They were united against me

United in their silence. I know now it’s because silence is convenient.

It gets you home quicker.

No matter if it makes the world sicker

By all means – please.

Grab your toddler’s hands and tell him to avert his eyes

Then wonder why he ignores the victim’s cries in his later life

Then step away from all blame

And tell the media you did not raise your child that way.

Go ahead – herd them away from the scene

Like a shepherd and his flock,

Pretending you didn’t clock,

But remember who the real animal in this situation is.

But I understand – children should be shielded from the ugly truth, right?

Their fragile minds and delicate youth should be nurtured

–       At least, to the age of thirteen. Then who cares if they’re harassed on the street? –

At least their childhood was beautiful.

So until then, you must hide the ugly stain of the world;

Remove the red wine with white,

Replace the black child with the white.

I was a young girl fighting back the tears harder than I’d ever fought before

–       And I have three brothers, so you’d best believe I can fight –

I find it strange how I can be so despised

For skin that is chocolate-brown,

How windows of passing cars are rolled down

Just so they can point out a difference I already know.

 

So the first time I was told to leave the country,

To migrate because my existence was just another weight

Burdening the country…I stayed silent.

But that was my ONLY mistake.

Colour decorates

And beautifies your surroundings. There is no such thing as

Black and white,

Only a million different shades of unity,

Only perfection to be found in caramel brown and swirls of peach

Unity isn’t beyond reach if only we look for it.

Yes, silence was my only mistake.

 

So the next time someone told me I should go back to where I was born,

I looked them squarely in the eyes,

And told them I was born and raised in London, mate.

 

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