You’re Not Black

by Amy Saunders

I sit with them at lunch
Fried chicken on my plate
I eat with a knife and fork
“You’re not black, if you don’t use your hands to eat”
Yet I know that hands tied up the strange fruit on the trees in the south
The fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop*

I don’t recognise the Caribbean music, or the Afrobeats
I only know of Liszt, Chopin and Ludovico Einaudi
Whose names you’ve probably never heard
“You’re not black, if you don’t know this beat”
Yet, I am familiar with the beat of pounding
Pounding of sugar cane, the whipping of backs
The cries and screams of my ancestors
Ring loud in my head centuries later

So how dare you? How dare you put me down!
Question my ethnicity, I’m still a shade of brown
And I’m sorry if I don’t live up to your ‘black norms’
But I live in a world with segregated dorms
Society crushes me, tells me I’m ugly
But copies my features, they must think it’s funny
I’m not trying to in any way be mean
But I live in a society covered in white sheen
Sorry to Bother You, but I should Get Out
’Cause The Hate U Give leaves me with no doubt
That I am not The Help, the help that you need
But the Hidden Figures are clear to see
That I should stop trying to be ‘Black’ and just try to be
Me

 

*from ‘Strange Fruit’ by Abel Meeropol