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I’m sorting through
the voices in my head.
Some belong to me
and some belong to those
who would have me believe
free will is treacherous
and the price for change
is always too high,
indistinct echoes of hate
in the halls of the house
where my childhood
was drawn in crayon
and my growth was
in spite of chains

I am tired of respect
on a one-way street
and I will not spend my life
dragging my heavy heart
where the sun cowers
before the gray and
any work on my identity
can be undone
by something you said,
where I can’t escape
the pain of your disapproval,
how it festers around
the joy I try so hard to keep
above the murky waters
of your stereotypes,
your fear of gossip destroying
you more than gossip
and facing the world
is so difficult when I can’t
face you with pride
and my vain wishes
of belonging here
have handicapped me,
I who have become strong
on my own, I who am free—
but only outside
of this place I called home

So I’ll put a geographical distance
between my love and your racism,
you who would not be silent
you who would stalk me
with names and judgement
along the corridors of
all the choices I’ve made
and all the truths under my feet

because I am your daughter
and I will not break your heart
but nor will I turn the other cheek
and pay tariffs
on what bliss I crafted
with my bare hands
and the only kind of beauty
I could believe in,
the little of it that’s left
untouched by you

“Believe” by photographer Soli Art


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