Eulogy to a Black Girl

Lil’ Kim told a reporter “It wasn’t good enough to be a regular black girl anymore,
they only wanted light-skinned women.
Mamma and them used to say they beat the black off you, as if blackness were a toxic disease which must be annihilated in childhood by corporal punishment.
She would holler out the window, “Don’t stay in the sun too long, baby. You’ll get black.”

So we wore long pants and shirts,
sweat cascading down our coca-buttered frames,
hiding in the bushes til’ the sun stops chasing us.
We fear becoming what we are.

And from South Africa to South Bronx to South Baltimore, we are slowly dying, inhaling the fumes of
self loathing; assassinated by the advent of MTV we stand on the auction block of western capitalism,
body parts discarded across America’s sliver screens only to be discarded.
Mamma said, “He will love you if you don’t get dark. Nobody loves a black girl.”
Since slavery’s inception we have been running from ourselves.
Mamma’s pupils meet our own begging for answers we dare not render.

– By Emelda De Coteau

Untitled [I Do Not Always Feel Colored], 1990
Glenn Ligon

Emelda De Coteau
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