By Nkateko Masinga
My blackness is red sirens,
Gunshots two blocks
From your block of flats.
Women on the street in their gowns
Screaming “What happened, what happened?”
My blackness mimics tragedy in small towns.
My blackness cannot be contained.
You tried all those years ago and failed.
Look, your hands are stained.
My blackness is flashing lights,
Red tape outside your house.
Orange cones on the road that leads to reconciliation.
But you walk here and find me waiting,
Burdened with the weight of waiting.
But you never come close enough, so I have to ask:
Does my blackness offend you?
I mean, the colour of my skin, the texture of my hair…
Do these things offend you?
Do they make you question what
God was trying to do
When He created me, as opposed to you?
Does my blackness make you get on your feet
and deliberately choose another seat
Or another place to eat?
Tell me this:
When we meet in town,
Does my blackness earn me a frown
Or even worse, a half-hearted lopsided smile
That lasts a while and then disappears?
Because you see, for years I struggled with my blackness too.
I made alterations to it, like you do
When you change my name from Nkateko to Kate.
I tried to hide my hair.
I plaited it tightly against my scalp like a forced hug.
Then I covered it with hair that looks like yours:
Sleek. Soft. Straight. Sinless.
And then I realised that your only mistake
Is not that you do not look like me
But that you showed me the sin in my blackness.
Image Credit: Lena-Franziska Posch