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If I’m Black and Nothing Else

High school is often a “use it or lose it” period. Whether that’s using one’s voice for social reform or keeping one’s art skills intact or practicing those countless math problems, high school can make or break anyone.

For me, high school has made me realize that I have multiple artistic abilities I can use to express my complex identity. My most used art form is writing, especially poetry. Writing is, usually, my first outlet to express myself because it provides tranquility and my focus on my creativity rather than my present worries and circumstances.

Because high school helped me realize who I am as a person, I wrote a poem expressing my newfound appreciation for my identity.

The following words are from my poem, “If I’m Black and Nothing Else:”

Look at me and see the beauty beneath my blackness—

in the light, bright honey tones of melanin on my high cheekbones

as the lovely rays of bright sun kiss my

golden caramel complexion, in the stark

contrast between my tan skin and the

comely coil of my jet-black hair, and,

finally, glance upon the gallant souls

of my ancestors in my deep brown eyes.

Look and see the beauty of my blackness.

And if you only see the blackness of my

skin and nothing else— not the beauty of

resilience or the Black struggle— then

you’ve failed to see the long-lasting legacy of what is black: the resilience of

the coil and lock. Black is the sweetness

of the nectar the hummingbird drinks.

Black is the silent victory of my ancestors

who endured. Black is the color of

panthers, obsidian, the cosmos, and me.

I’ve always thought my high school experience would either be a grave of midnight dreams or High School Musical, but high school was neither. High school was a bracing period of molding me into the person I am today: a creative Black female.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Keith Dunn

    Brittany, thanks for this powerful post and poem. You are beautiful, and we’re proud you’re here.


    Dean Keith Dunn

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