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