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Who Am I?

I am every black woman who has ever been raped,
I am every black woman who has ever been murdered,
I am every black woman who has ever been called a "nigger",
I am every black woman who has ever been called a "slut".

But racism is not as sexually specific as you might imagine. When the racists are out there, they're not too worried about gender. And my response to that is,… well, it's probably predictable. When you see me, you ought to know I am also -

Every black man who's ever been whipped and beaten
Every black man who's been strung up in a cell
Every black youth turned down for a job
And every black boy conforming all the closed doors

I am every black boy who has seen his mother raped, I am every black girl who has seen her father arrested and humiliated, I am every black child taken away from their family.

But that's not all I am, I am not only the victim that white society has made me.

I am every black woman who has ever been loved -
Lain the night through in sensual caring arms -
And every black girl who has ever flirted,
And has danced, and known the wind and the rain
On her skin and in her hair.

I am the woman of mystery at night.
My eyes, too, peep from under the brim of my pert hat
Silk swirls loose and colorfully around me
The scent of flowers lingers in my footsteps.

My low cut black negligee is worn from use -
And see my scabby knees from climbing trees
The fine-tooth comb dragged nits from my hair
And my back is bent from scrubbing floors

I am every black man come in from a successful hunt
- bought joy and survival to my family in need -
Have carried my woman across water too dirty/too deep
And every black man in communion with God

I have known both lust and passion
And murderous deeds I have done
I have caught the blood-wet baby as it fell
From its safe place in the womb

I am not merely who you want - or need - me to be. Racism does not shape my every movement, does not prevent me from feeling trickling sand move beneath my feet or sun beating warmly on my shoulders.

I am humble
I am every black person who has ever been wrong,
Who has ever said "sorry", who has ever felt stupid,
Who has lost their way home/forgotten where they parked their car/or arrived at the shop and not remembered what they came for.

I am every black parent
My child has won his race/come top in her exam/been the beauty queen at the ball
Or become a yuppie professional.

Of course, my child has also - been arrested/overdosed on drugs/been found hanging in a cell/been shot in his bed/come home unwed and pregnant - but that's not all I am!

I have seen the lights, the min-min lights,
I have spent a lifetime around a campfire,
Huddled intimately over candle-lit dinner,
And watched bushfire eat trees and people.

I am a successful liar - I have to be
In order to be a politician
And a successful thief - to steal back
That which has been stolen from me.
I am a land rights advocate,
And an equal rights supporter,
A global citizen and a human rights endorser.

And I've been alive long enough to know
That - to be all these things, and live...

I have also had to be black and proud and strong.

Roberta B. Sykes

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In Christ's love we strive to:
Accept their individuality,
Believe in their worth,
Hope for their future, and
Love them where they are.