Poem by Harlem West-Hammond

Pre K taught me block parties and BBQ
Taught me Lauryn Hill’s sweet symphonies and India Arie
The nostalgia felt in Dad’s lap wouldn’t exist in plastic chair chalkboard boredom
Kindergarten taught me I am Brown
Taught me primary colors. Brown was not one.
Red was my favorite.
Downtown daytime stares made me want colorblind eyes
Taught me 3 Historic heroes my color.

1st Grade taught me obituaries.
Red was no longer my favorite.
Red meant another wednesday Sunday service.
Everything smelled like Grey Goose and Pinesol
Red was the rose Ma said to toss on brown coffin
I hated brown
Blue was my new favorite.
Music first quarter taught thats how what my insides were feeling like.
1st grade taught me nothing

2nd grade taught me hypocrisy.
Don’t ask too many questions or the corner will mock you
Dad doesn’t come around anymore.
I still watch Disney so i can be his princess when he returns.
2nd grade taught me nothing

3rd grade taught me ISAT and what girls are made for
Taught me in homeland I am able to marry
Taught me flatirons, and how to be pretty
Taught me lunch room roast sessions
Taught me pressure
3rd grade taught me nothing

4th taught me social studies.
Taught me white supremacy
Taught me labels
Mama laughed when i asked were racist colorblind
I had begun to resent my Dad
4th grade taught me nothing

5th grade taught me how to annotate European American novels
Taught me to summarize Bud Not Buddy
Taught me code switching with my white friends.
Substitute teacher taught me ebonics will be the end of brown employment
5th grade taught me nothing

6th grade taught my brown boy cousins hypermasculinity and how to solve for X
Taught me bootleg DVDs and complex compound sentences
Taught me i’m still blue.
Writing taught me freedom, but Channel 7 let me know I wasn’t
6th grade taught me nothing

7th grade taught me the statistics sketched in my melanin
By now i don’t give a crap about my father
7th taught me something.

8th grade taught me this may be my only graduation

Freshman year taught me neglect and grammatical errors
I’m still lost in AP

Sophomore year taught me gentrification and Rahm Emmanuel
I’m still blue.

Junior year taught me catcalling is a culture
Taught me to bubble in “ other “on the race portion of state testing
Taught me my city may reject me because my ACT was a 23
Taught me
Taunts me
I’m still

Its senior year now. High school taught me colors.

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