To Nina Simone

I am a

black woman

my parents migrated from Paris

i speak  three languages

i struggle everyday to raise my children

braid hair, day in and out

They call me Mama

I am a

turkish woman

in Germany, i want to pass on my customs

there are others like me

pushed into neighborhoods while our foods feed their stomachs

sometimes

They call me Outcast

I am

pakistani

i came to america a woman

praying on my knees to keep my sons free

my youngest shouts of foot baller dreams

i’ll go home one day and he’ll be there

They call me Hopeful

I am a

woman

i spend nights on the underside of the italian rivera

my smile is ethereal

no matter where i rome

They call me Real Sweet

 

Beah Speaks

You were afraid to nurse your young
lest fallen breast offend your master’s sight
and he should flee to firmer loveliness.
And so you passed them, your children, on to me.
Flesh that was your flesh and blood that was your blood
drank the sustenance of life from me.
And as I gave suckle I knew I nursed my own child’s enemy.
I could have lied,
told you your child was fed till it was dead of hunger.
But I could not find the heart to kill orphaned innocence.
For as it fed, it smiled and burped and gurgled with content
and as for color knew no difference.
Yes, in that first while
I kept your sons and daughters alive.
But when they grew strong in blood and bone
that was of my milk
you
taught them to hate me.
Put your decay in their hearts and upon their lips
so that strength that was of myself
turned and spat upon me,
despoiled my daughters, and killed my sons.
You know I speak true.

(Beah Richards, excerpt from “A Black Woman Speaks of White Womanhood”)