By Sasha Terfous

I do not know what it means to be black;
My version of black culture is cultivated by MTV and news reports.
It's big booty bitches, blunts and Bugattis.
It’s black men dying in streets, oppression piercing their skulls;
A white lobotomy teaching the ways of correct behaviour.
It's growing up without a dad,
Being part of the 51.2% of black kids in the 90's who were fatherless.
A white mom tearing a comb through my hair because nobody taught her how to braid.
It's 10 years of flat irons and chemicals because nobody was there to tell a little girl,
"Your hair is as old as humanity itself.
Each strand tells the stories of your ancestors.
Each curl represents black history and the ongoing fight to keep growing no matter how small the progress may seem."
It's jollof rice and spiced fish at your best friend's house because momma don’t know how to cook it.
It's asking why other kids call you monkey and why you don't look like them.
It's screaming at a mother who did nothing but lay her life down for you,
Why can't I look the other kids at school mom?
Why do I look like this mom?
Why does the sun turn my skin so brown mom?
Who am I?

It’s asking why your dad is like air.
You know he's real, he's the reason life runs in your veins but you have never seen him.
It's a mysterious birthday card on a dreary day, pleading your return,
Hushed tones and whispered confessions behind glass doors,
Revealing more secrets than shackled brown bodies jumping overboard.
I am told my culture is watermelon, Kool-Aid and chicken fried in Crisco.
History books say it’s barbaric traditions and voodoo infused medicine.
America tells me it's uneducated young men and women with empty thoughts and even emptier lives,
Their pockets full with money almost as dirty as the colour of their skin.
Crack-pipes handed down like family heirlooms,
I am destined for failure.
I'm not white enough for the white kids and not black enough for the black kids.
Spice stings my tongue like the n-word thrown around in front of me by white kids,
Unknown to fact Africa is in me, it's in them and together we are Africa.
My hair straightened by the western world and my skin faded by racism,
I lose my identity inside myself
An endless journey of who am I and why.

My reflection in the mirror speaks to me about my home land.
The girl staring back is more than just another light-skinned mixed girl who grew up in a white girl world.
I am more than an identity lost in self ignorance.
I may not know what it means to be black,
But I sure as hell know what it means to be me.


Directed by Matthew Thompson.

"Identity." by Sasha Terfous. Reproduced with permission of the author.