I'm too Dark

By Diane Campos

When I was 6 I knew I was dark. 
I would step outside,
let the sun burn my skin
and in that moment
I no longer felt like my mother’s daughter.

When I was 7 I knew I was dark.
I would climb the trees during recess
scraping the inner side of my thigh
allowing the bark to make a canvas of my skin
turning my dark into white,
filled with the shame of embarrassment,
Why couldn’t I be white?

When I was 8 I knew I was dark.
My hair coiled in a kinky curly crown
placed ontop of my head like it didn’t belong
Like a mess.
Like a disaster.

When I was 10 I knew I was dark.
My mother speaking to me in a foreign language,
Strangers invading our privacy, 
“Oh you speak Spanish?”
My eyes filled with confusion
Was it not obvious?
Was it my skin?

When I was 15 I knew I was dark.
Who would I hang out with?
I had no friends that I could speak to in my love language,
My Spanish.
They forgot I was Mexican.
So I did too.

When I was 18 I knew I was dark.
Everyone had forgotten my Spanish.
My skin drenched in the color of disgust.
In the color of “I’m sorry”,
In the color of “But I tried my best,”
In the color of “I am unsure,”
In the color of “Loneliness.”

I had forgotten my culture.
I was lost.

When I was 19 I knew I was dark.
It was okay,
and it beautiful.
I knew I was dark.
I would step outside,
let the sun kiss my skin
turning it from dark to golden.
My tongue burning with my Spanish.
My hair singing through its curls,
and in that moment,
I felt like my mother’s daughter.

 

Author note: The message behind this piece is to show how colorism exists even within the minority community. As a dark skinned Latina, I always struggled with identity because I felt like I was too brown to claim my culture because I often felt excluded. This poem is me accepting and loving my dark skin and validating not only my own dark skin but other dark skinned Latinas that struggle with acceptance and finding their community.

See more from Diane here and here.