By Elizabeth Britton, 17

I am not defined by the color of my skin
But rather by the culture raging like rivers deep within
I am not defined by the words you choose to speak
Not even from your catcalls on the street
‘I like them white’
Yea I bet you do
Just like your mother and your father and probably your brother too
I am not defined by the sari I don’t wear
For the fear that my pigmentless efforts be seen as overbear
I am not defined by the culture you don’t see and if you ever think you know, think again and ask me
Deterred by your faceless face is something I will never be
As your accent trails off from a colourless vehicle unseen
I am not defined by your abandonment of I
Although I am part and parcel of both sides of the line
I am not defined by a close minded society
Who believes the surface and the shadow bear the same quality
The hatred of MY blood has no root, no cause
And at the end of the day it bleeds the same as yours
I am not defined by the way I pronounce
And at the end of the day we both speak the same vowels
I am not defined by the colour you think I am
Or how you think I should speak
But does it really matter in a society wherein my voice has been made weak
I fear to be different
I fear to exist
Where hair is too straight and skin too light
And my pigment is shamed for a long passed fight
I am not defined by those around me and yet I feel so out of place
And I wish to be more like you,
Maybe that’s my selfish disgrace
To be praised for my melanin and the shape of my lips
From the texture of my hair down to my hips
But I am not worthy of such an honor as this
The beauty you see is the world’s ignorant bliss
I will bite my tongue, hide amongst the clouds and I’ll wait
For People to see that there is more to this weight
All souls deserve to be told we are lovely
The colourless colours of the ones that live numbly
We are not defined by You
Your praise did not make us
Therefore your rejection will not shake us
We will not be broken by the ignorance of fools
We are a part of you and you a part of us, from the coils and curls to all the colours of the dust
We are not defined by any pigment, language, culture
We are not defined by the past that’s begun to crumble
Coloured Child kneel strongly
Your definition gives you posture
Colored Child step surely
Your definition makes them tremble
I wanted to write a poem that more than one kind of person could relate to, something that explored more than
one background. The title of the poem is ambiguous and I tried to encompass both meanings: The fear of being
different in a uniform society and the fear people have of those who are different.
Being a coloured child who looks nothing like one I have experienced subtle racism. Being a coloured child who
looks nothing like one in a community of caramel skin and afro hair I felt severely out of place even though I was
with “my people”. Any person that reads the poems relates to it as it morphs to what he/she has experienced. I
do not seek nothing more than the recognition of everyone as human, whether black, white, coloured or indian or
even whether they look the way they are ‘supposed to’. Please also note that I use the word coloured in the poem
to refer to multiple colours and not the race, referring to South Africa as a ‘Rainbow Nation’.

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