Race, Social Justice

The Gospel of a So-Called “Oreo”

I cannot control the bloodlines in my veins.

Why am I not allowed to sing?
Why write this poem now after rounds and rounds of tip-toeing covertly in the back row
Of the sanctuary on Sundays?

Lord, let these words give me solace
In the body my mother told me to refer to as a temple, yet I do not
Worship it enough.

I have not praised my autonomy properly.
Not enough holy water has been sprinkled to keep certain demons at bay.

To the human error in the middle school kids with kindergarten ignorance
Who called me an “unknown species”
Sparking more fire in me against
Your incendiary logs of binary thinking
When you ask, “What are you?”

I am not the remnant of your decapitated Oreo
From your lunchbox, ready for your consumption.

To the adversary in the white boy who
“Didn’t like me enough to date,” but liked me enough to dance in rivers of temptation
For finding my appearance “exotic,” you should have stopped petting me.

I am not a sight for your jungle fever wonders,
Nor is my caffeinated mocha complexion for you to stir through without your permission.

I believe that this gospel is not preached enough,
I believe the choir does not turn to these pages of unrecognized hymnals.

I see the strong black woman raising her arms to call tenors to attention,
Then the altos bloom as baby’s breath does in the background of red roses.
Their garden of song overwhelms me to walk up to the alter,
Only to have the director make the swoop of her arms halt the choir,
Halting me,
Because I am not welcome to the front of their labeled purity either.

To this angelic black woman,
Who fell
Into her slap across my face mistaken for a tolerable hand shake
When she says, “you are not black enough,”

We still have more to talk about for us to hold hands
Like we’re supposed to.

Lord, am I to ask for forgiveness for not crawling to one identity over another?

I cannot control the bloodlines in my veins, but I have controlled the songs I’ve sung and

Haven’t sung.

Why am I not allowed to sing?

  • Maya Williams

    Maya Williams has her Bachelor’s in Social Work and Bachelor’s in English from East Carolina University. She also has her Master’s in Social Work and Certificate in Applied Arts and Social justice from the University of New England. She has published articles and poems on sites such as The Tempest, INTER, Black Girl Nerds, Multiracial Media, GlitterMOB, and Soft Cartel. In her spare time, she enjoys writing and performing spoken word poetry, facilitating writing workshops for youth, and watching movies/musicals.