by Cynia Barnwell
My race is not a purse, I can never place it down or shop for a new one.
My race is not a bag
I will never put it away, hoping it will come back into fashion
My race is not a clutch
and I refuse to lose it
My ethnicity is not a pair of peep-toed pumps…
and I will never remove it when my stroll becomes weary
My ethnicity is not mary-janes
and my blackness is not something I will break in
My ethnicity is not a fad, and there will be no questions of “what is the new black”
My culture is not a sweater and I could never hang it up with the slightest change of weather
My culture is not a pair of jeans
because year after year I will never grow out of it.
Fuck no, my culture is not a shirt. Honey, this will never fade
So open up your mind so you can see this today
Close your eyes then open them and view me as bare.
Delve beyond the fashion
No purse, no pumps, no pair of jeans.
See me as naked, see me as me.
My culture, my race, my ethnicity
Cynia Barnwell is a first-year graduate student of Women’s History at Sarah Lawrence College.