The Blacker the Berry, the Sweeter the Juice

This poem is dedicated to all the Black women, especially dark-skinned Black women, who have felt that being Black was too much of a burden to bear. My message to Black women is to not feel pressured to change for society. Love the skin you are in because it is beautiful and unique. Don’t let society tell you differently.

Trigger Warnings: Self-harm, suicide

 

Four easy steps

She knew them by heart:

Wash,

Exfoliate,

Rinse,

And apply.

 

The now half-empty bottle

She bought from Walmart

Was dedicated to

All the nights she cried

Was bullied

And depressed.

 

For the days

She tried to fit in with the rest

It was her dark skin to blame

For the reasons she was oppressed.

This half-empty bottle of skin lightening cream was for

The pests: The vampires.

 

They wanted her blood.

They haunted her

Day in

And day out

For having dark skin

And dark circles around her mouth.

 

For not meeting European beauty standards

And speaking with an accent from down south.

But when she tried to change

Into someone she was not,

Black people told her she talked “white”

Because she used the word “literally” a lot.

 

It didn’t help that people said she talked like a color.

Yet colorism still existed in her community

Like it was a part of the culture.

And so did promiscuity,

Which gave a more valid argument to label dark-skin

As impurity.

 

Even when she rolled the dice,

It didn’t matter which side it landed on

Because she wasn’t accepted by anyone.

Her identity was a mystery.

She did not know who she had become.

 

The vampires still haunted her

Day in

And day out.

They wanted her blood.

She felt like she was in the movie Get Out.

Rose had those damn keys.

 

She felt like she was faced with defeat.

Because Rose had the keys,

She couldn’t leave.

She was stuck between

Not a rock and a hard place

But a knife and skin lightening cream.

 

She didn’t want to hurt anymore.

She wanted to die.

With the knife in her hand

She counted down from the number

Five.

Four.

 

She slit her wrist

Until she hit the floor.

The vampires smelled her blood,

A smell they couldn’t ignore.

So, they opened the door

And saw where she laid.

 

They sucked her blood

Like vultures.

It was the sweetest they had ever tasted.

They sucked until she was tasteless,

Breathless,

And dead.

 

They wished they could ask

What kind of blood that she bled.

For her blood wasn’t blood.

Her blood was the magic that she possessed

From being a darker shade.

It tasted like the cool-aid

Her grandmother made.

 

But what kind of blood

Could make her produce

Juices so sweet.

There was no explanation

Except that she was magical

Like a flower that grew from the concrete.

 

A magic she didn’t even know that she held

Because it was never able to introduce itself

At her funeral her mother wrote her a farewell

And written in it was the phrase:

The blacker the berry,

The sweeter the juice.