My Testimony— Declaration of Independence: A Barby Asante & Co. Production, 18th of January 2020

Part I [Call back] — I REMEMBER

I remember myself as a child

I remember innocence

I remember naivety

I remember hope

I remember belief in the inherent goodness of others

I remember broken trust

I remember fear

I remember pain

I remember anger

I remember loss

Part II — I AM

I am a woman of colour
I am half black
Half white
I am brown
I am invisible
I am invisible on television
I am invisible in books
I am invisible in films
in classrooms
in history
I am invisible in magazines
I am invisible when they hand out awards
I am invisible in science
in politics
I am invisible in the eyes of the system
I am invisible in the eyes of the law
I am invisible in society
I am not acknowledged
I am not recognized

I am invisible
but I stick out as a sore thumb
Because I am too visible
I am dangerous
Different
Strange
Suspect
Foreign
Mysterious
Wrong
I don’t belong here
I should go home
back where I came from

I am undesirable
Unwanted
Crucified
Demonized
Oppressed
So I suppress
my emotions
Because I am too aggressive
Too sensitive
I take up too much space
Because I’m the wrong race

I am fetishized
Exotified
Objectified
Sexualized
I am honey
I am chocolate
I am caramel
I am an African queen

I am too light
Too dark
Too thick
Too thin
Too black
Too white?
That’s not right

I am afraid
Sad
Angry
Worried
Bad
Used
Abused
Disrespected
Unprotected
Not expected to thrive
No space is safe
for me

I am not right
And all my life I had to fight

No sympathy for me when I cry
and no empathy when people like me die
It’s all in our heads
You have a chip on your shoulder
When really, it’s a boulder
I didn’t place it there
And I don’t think that’s fair
Strangers touch my hair
without asking
Without consent
What is consent?
I have to vent!

Bodily autonomy
Early autopsy
Stress of racism
and sexism
and misogyny
Early death
Because I’m not white
and my name ain’t Beth
Racism
Sexism
Classism
They all hold hands
All brothers and sisters
Could you help me, mister?
It’s lonely
Forced to be phony
Code switch
Black bitch
Your authenticity
is audacity
Old traditions are crass
Vulgarity
Prosperity?
Judged by the ignorant
My pain is shared
My pain is palpable
Are we capable?
Carrying that pain until we’re old and gray
Is that okay?

What I am is not appropriate
until its appropriated
I’m not the standard of beauty
Black features are not the standard of beauty
Unless they’re on a white woman

The darker the berry, the sweeter the juice
They want our rhythm, but not our blues

Colonized
Brutalized
Ostracized
Occupied
Stolen
Broken
Raped
Branded
Enslaved
Breeding stock
Laughing stock
Eugenics
Euthanized
Genocide
Massacred
Dehumanized
And they won’t say our names

Jezebel
Sapphire
Not hired
Mammy
Mommy
Magical negro
Tragic mulatta
Sex-trafficked
Profiled
Criminalized
Gentrified
Sterilized
Stigmatized
Slaughtered

I wish for a better world for my daughter
I want her life to be brighter
I don’t want her to have to be a fighter

Rise from the ashes like a phoenix
Resilience
Brilliance

Is my anger justified, warranted?
Can you see my kind heart, my pure thoughts and my good soul?
Or do you project your darkness onto me?

Melanin, melanin
Brown hair
Brown eyes
Brown skin
To be fetishized
To be exotified
To be demonized
Are these demon eyes?
Too black, too white
Too thick, too thin
Melanin, melanin
I love the skin that I’m in
This brown hair
These brown eyes
This brown skin

I win

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Anine Bråten

Anine Bråten

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Student, feminist, anti-racist, activist. Freelance writer and public speaker.