Black blame (a poem)

Black Blame

they asked us to
shed our skins

the words they spoke
were sharpened old knives

they never saw us,
only filled rooms with words

we do not work hard,
we could have worked hard,
we should work hard.

black legs dragged white manacles,
a staggered black step,
that told a tale,
the tale of black bodies.

they asked us to shed our skins,
to fit into their white costumes,
white words,
white world.

they asked us
to shed our skins
to fade the graves of
Biko,
Mahlangu,
Hani

to retell our
parents’ rendition
of their scars.

they asked us to
shed our skins,
breaking links,

told us we
hallucinated
our black conditions.

told us to
look to our black hands,
for our gratitude,
for our wealth.

that our
black dreams
were never darkened

they asked us to
shed our skins
because white Justice
was what we needed

for even though
our words,to them,
were bitter bubbles,
wild misunderstandings
we were told to
shed our skins,
hold hands and
rise above it.

we were told to,
shed our skins
on soil that was familiar
to the souls of our black feet,
for faded rainbow footprints.

black legs dragged white manacles,
that told a tale.

– Pearl Khumalo

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