Brown Girl in the Ring / linisa george

For most of my childhood,
I wanted to be the brown girl,
The pretty brown girl in the ring.
I knew I could never be the white girl,
So I dreamt and wished to be the brown girl.

Brown girl, with the long straight curl,
Hair I could twirl,
A pretty brown girl.

But I would never look like the brown girl,
A lesson that would take me most of my teenage years to learn.
From pressed hair, to chemically relaxed hair,
Even miss-matched brown and purple contacts,
Anything to be the brown girl.

Brown girl, with the long straight curl,
Hair I could twirl,
A pretty brown girl.

But what I was running from,
Ran straight at me.
I didn’t realize,
The true me,
I could never flee.
Why couldn’t I be a brown girl?
Mom and Dad said I was pretty.
My grandparents said I looked like an Empress.
Yet the outside world,
Ordered me to stay inside.
In the magazines I read no one looked like me,
Either they were white girls or brown girls.

Brown girls, with long straight curls,
Hair they could twirl,
Pretty brown girls.

I never went anywhere,
I was too scared to be seen in the public.
If you were darker than a brown girl,
You were practically unnoticeable.
I was Toni Morrison’s Sula,
Wishing for the bluest eyes ever, and the chance to be a brown girl.

A brown girl, with the long straight curl,
Hair I could twirl,
Pretty brown girl.

In time I would develop breasts and discover make-up.
Since I wasn’t a pretty brown girl,
I decided to transform myself into a sexy black girl.
Tits pushed up high,
Ass stuck straight out,
Short skirts pass the knee,
War-painted colored face,
Everyone did look at me.
But still I wasn’t a brown girl, with the long straight curl,
Hair I could twirl,
Pretty brown girl.
One night Mama Africa visited me in a dream,
With a stern voice she accused me of being utterly disrespectful,
Cursed me for not understanding the definition of beauty, my beauty.
“My child you are a labour of love.
Your skin is woven from soil from the richest land.
Your eyes, ears, nose and lips tell the tales of your royal ancestors,
Queens whose presence diminishes any Cleopatra’s.
Kings whose strength and wisdom outweigh that of Samson and Solomon.”

So then who am I?

I am not a brown girl,
With the long straight curl,
Hair that could twirl,
Pretty brown girl.

I am a black girl,
Different from them all,
Rising above with every fall.
I stand 50 feet tall,
With my short kinky curl,
One that I could twirl,
I am an extremely sexy,
Highly educated,
Overbearingly motivated
Soaring high above without wings,
I am the PRETTY BLACK GIRL in the ring.

•••

Linisa George is a writer, poet, playwright, dreamer, sister, friend, island girl and activist. She is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of blackgirlinthering.com (BGRmag), co-owner of a creative arts company, August Rush Productions, and the Director of The Young Poets Society of Antigua & Barbuda. She has won four National Youth Awards in Antigua; three for Literary Arts (2010, 2012, 2013) and one for Youth Activism—Women of Antigua (2012). To date, her poetry has been published in three anthologies including The World Record, in celebration of the 2012 London Olympics. Recently, she was featured on BBC Scotland Poetry Postcards radio programme. “Black Girl in the Ring” has been a favourite of audiences at WOA theatrical presentations.

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