I was twelve when my brown father first said

“You may have green eyes but you’ll never be them,

“lighter skin and so they’ll just want you in their bed.”

He sang me to sleep with these precious little gems

 

“Your “purity” has to remain unmarred

With that curly hair, you’ll always be easy prey”

And so I was always on my guard

Lest the white man tempt me away

 

Some expected me to be submissive and meek

“Arab girls are supposed to be docile and sultry”

I struggled.

He held me down.

His femme exotique.

“Would you dare say no back in . . . whatever country?”.

 

So I think about what my father’s told me

About how there’s a price to pay for حرية

That the white man will never hold me

I should find an Arab man, and be مرته العربية

 

But my people too, just wanted my legs open

“Come on, American girl, let me taste America”

A man says to 12-year-old me, while I stand, frozen

 

I walk home, everyone knows me. American girl

“White girls were always my preference!”

I turn a corner, someone grabs my curls

“American girl, whore, what exactly’s the difference?”

 

Others wanted to “save” me from my identity

As if without my Arabness I’d find serenity

Like if I didn’t speak  لغتي العربية  I wouldn’t be the other

Like if I spoke only انجليزي I’d be white

“You fit in though! With that skin tone!”

Like my culture is just the way I look, right?

There’s no family, no friends, no food,

No poetry, no calligraphy, no society

No love, no history, no war and no fight

“You’re white enough”

I might be. You’ve called my bluff

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