Banjo and a Bass

I like folk music.

I like banjos and pianos and raspy wind voices of

Old souls.

But because the majority of this genre is sung by people of a Caucasian background, it can be recognized under a different name:

"White People Music."


I listen to hip hop, and

Lose myself to the beats of the bass,

Feeling the lyrics,

More than just words attached to sounds,

Words that tell stories of love

And hate

And life.

Things that I understand.


But sometimes I like hearing the world through

Sounds of someone else;

Someone not like me.

So I listen to the banjos and pianos.

Their songs don't say the same words about love and hate,

But their chords sound like they are meant to be felt.


I was listening to a song the other day about the life of a broken actress,

When Someone asked me why I was listening to that ‘white people music’.

‘I like it,’ I answered and asked them, ‘you know the Lumineers?’

‘No,’ They replied, ‘I don't like old music...'

'You should listen to some good stuff sometime,’ They said, then laughed,

‘But I guess you’re too white for that.’


Now I’d like to think I’m not easily upset.

But when you have the audacity to think that

I am okay with

An assumption of my personal identity based on

Six seconds of a song,

There are a few things I need to say.

How dare you strip me of

My color?

I am proud of the complexion of my pigment and

Yes,

I did just quote a white rapper but

So what?

Does that make me any brighter,

Any whiter than I already am?

No,

Because skin is the largest organ

No,

Because my melanin is too brown and too rich

No,

Because it is too great to fit inside the contents of a single syllable

No,

Because my color was made to be seen and

I want mine to

Shine

Without being bleached.


Yes,

I've seen the fallen faces of my brothers.


Yes,

It hurts.

Yes,

I want to do something,

Yes

I want to say something and

Yes, I have tried

But no one seems to be listening because

This black-white glistening skin of mine is too busy trying

To convince you that it has the right

To remain pigmented

And not be shot down for it.


If you want facts about color,

I'll give them to you

But first,

Black and white are not colors

They are shades.

And if I am a combination of both you can bet

There are more than fifty of me because

Without grey,

The shadows of our black-white past would be

So much closer.

Grey

Is a transition.


It is the 'color' no one ever thinks of because

It is too busy blending

Two worlds together.


My mother told me I was born

Beautiful and strong,

So I don't understand

Why my hand shakes

Every time I am in a location with

High concentrations

Of people who don't look like me,

Which turns out to be everyone so

The only explanation I can muster Is

You.


You

Who say I don't know what cotton feels like

You

Who say I should work at a Starbucks

You

Who say I should do something with that hair on my head

You,

People like You who tell me

I am not enough;

Not good enough to be

Black or White so I

Might as well pick a side as an

Identity because neither isn't enough and

Both is too much.


And I listen

To the words of the world,

Lost in conversations of

Dying and

Crying and

Lying and

Pretending everything is okay,

And I lose myself.


Like a broken actress

Thrown upon a stage

With a role I never wanted.


An invisible director

Telling me to

Sing in the right key and

Not sound too bright;

I shouldn't be so sharp.


Telling me to

Say the right words and

Speak lightly;

I may be dark, but

No one wants to hear that.


So here I am,

On this stage,

Feeling the blackout gaze of the audience

Critiquing my performance while

White light stings my eyes,

Burning

From the outside in.

But I am done with this show.

Broadway can wait.

And I walk away,

Humming a song with a

Banjo and a Bass.

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