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A Poem by Elizabeth Brooks: "Look at Me"

Woman walking/Look at Me/Brooks

Look at Me

when I awake at the break of day

and I listen to the highlights of overnight

I'm quickly reminded of how much you struggle

with my blackness

another brutal incident, an indictment of ugliness

pain, grief and shame,

and I endure your criticisms, your attitude

your low expectations, your indifference

but you too, are a victim of the establishment

yet you continue very subtly to oppress me

with built in systems that sanitize and legalize

the perpetrations. I am constantly sideswiped

and you are oblivious.

Bewildered then, I look at my reflection in the mirror

and I see what my heavenly Father sees in me.

I boldly accentuate my looks, full lips,

natural hair, braids,

dreadlocks or nappy

for variety and flavor

I add extensions or color

which does not define me, look at me.

Deep down, I'm clear about my character.

But I'm forced though blessed to turn to my hub,

my spiritual mentors, my community.

We have to consciously strategize how to promote ourselves,

how to protect ourselves, who we are.

But you and I must engage in dialogue that's

enlightening and nurturing to both sides.

You cannot continue to walk around uninformed and

with blinders on. You see, there is value in diversity but

you must have knowledge and sensitivity but what's

lacking here clearly is empathy. Look!

look, look at me, at minorities collectively,

to some we maybe a succulent thing,

others sweet and sour to more still, a bit too tart.

But look at me, you must have insight

to look deep within

below the surface of the melanin

of my beautiful skin.

it's not just cafe-latte, espresso, cocoa-tea,

molasses, cinnamon or brown sugar.

You are unable to recognize that this is where my

faithful spirit, and my humanity is housed

and flows throughout. I'm confident because it

washes and it cleanses me.

I am the epitome of beauty.

I stand on faith to duplicate

my vision, my wisdom, my outward look,

my inner beauty

which is radiant with Abundant Joy

and that - is my victory.

Look at me, my constant joy

my gratitude, my dignity and yes humility,

these are the attributes that enhance my beauty.

I know who I am,

I know whose I am.

I am more than you think I am.

(In honor of Martin Luther King)

Previously published in Indiana Voice Journal


Elizabeth P. Brooks is originally from Trinidad and Tobago and now calls Tampa Bay home. She is deeply concerned about human dignity and the need for social justice. She is outgoing, loves the sound of laughter and the power of the word. She is a performance poet and has had several poems and two non-fiction essays published in Indiana Voice Journal. She is the author of a recently published chapbook ,“You May Applaud Now and other poems” and she is currently working on a novel and many other projects. Elizabeth is a reference librarian at Saint Leo University in Dade City, Fla., and volunteers as an adult literacy tutor in Tampa. She is a contributor to the Huffington Post. You can visit Elizabeth at her Facebook page here: Elizabeth Brooks

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