Poetry| This face.

Self-portrait, 2020
This face.
You don’t want to see my face.  This face.  
This face that I wear in delight, in sadness, in fear, and in madness.
This face that speaks of African roots so deep that the depth leaves you shaking.
This face that will not and cannot apologize for not blending in with your expectations.
  
You don’t want to see my face. This face.
This face that stares at you in bewilderment when you reach out to touch my hair,
when you reach out to share your advice of how to get rid of my unproductive nappy care. 
This face that wonders who the hell and where the hell you think you are, trying to trample on my space,
  
acting like I’m part of some petting zoo 
or some wild animal to tame and, of course, then later temporarily woo.
  
You don’t want to see my face. This face.
This face that has learned how to smile after years of shaming:
big lips, five-finger forehead, high cheek bones, and broad nose, but no collarbones.
Too thick, too thin, too dark, too light, sounds too white, but never too white enough, for whom?
  
Too aggressive, too talkative, too loud, 
too strong, too proud, too much, but not enough, but again for whom?
  
For whom? This face
  
is a reminder of historical shame, yours not mine. 
Be you White or Black, curious or well-meaning, ignorant or misguided,
Privileged or desiring to be, above the glass ceiling or below it, 
jumping on the diversity bandwagon or barely hanging off of it…
  
This face that is mine 
that wears upon its crown a halo of my ancestry, 
this face that is mine 
that wears upon its lines the wisdom of my struggle,
 
neither seeks nor needs approval, 
neither recognizes nor considers status,
neither looks to nor looks from behind you, 
neither looks up to nor even beside you. 

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