Chocolate Girl

A couple days out of the week I volunteer at the Olivet Boys and Girls club. Last year around this time I remember helping a kid with their homework and I asked them if they saw my friend Dasia, who also volunteered. The kid asked me to describe her and I went on to say "she's chocolate with black hair and wears glasses". The kid giggled at my choice word to describe her skin and said "you can’t call her that". I laughed too and questioned why not, that's the color of her skin. Another volunteer pulled me to the side and told me that I shouldn’t describe people as chocolate to children, it's either Black or African American.. I disagreed completely. These are the two options we have to choose from? Neither sound particularly appealing to me, one is made up and the other has so many negative connotations applied to it that people forget the good. It’s just a preference, a preference that I don’t think I have to censor. I haven’t had anyone object to being called Chocolate as a way describe the rich texture of their skin. The sweet food brings joy to the hearts of so many I can't think of a reason why they would protest.


To Describe My Skin

   - Layshan Gilliard


You call me African American..

What does that mean?

Where does it put me?

I’m embedded in the rays that heat the countries of Africa

But I’m not African.


Fireworks on the 4th, common knowledge

I engage in American Culture

But you don’t just call me American.


You call me Black..

The darkest color imaginable

Don’t get me wrong Black is beautiful

It's the color of the night sky

A time for dreaming

But my skin is not Black.


I like to say I’m Chocolate

The same chocolate that fills you with warmth

By sight and smell

The creamy chocolate that comes in different shades

That chocolate.. Yeah call me that.