Amy Barlow Liberatore… stories of lost years, wild times, mental variety, faith, and lots of jazz

Tag Archives: melanin

What Color Am I?

In the burbs growing up
I was browner than the other kids,
Black Irish, but still “white.”

In NYC walking about
I was one of many shades of brown,
but lighter than most.

In Bermuda, I tanned and
matched the other workers;
they called me their Little American Onion.

After Riley popped out, she
compared our “skins” and asked,
“Why am I darker than you, Mommy?”

I told her she was descended
from desert people, the Jews, who
were used to more sunlight than the Irish.

She went to high school and
her favorite teacher was Mr. Fuller, AKA
FullDogg; his dreds up in a knot, proud Black man

She only called him Mr. Fuller, and
I was pleased that, before I met him, she
hadn’t said, “He’s Black” or anything at all.

I don’t think the world is ready for “color-blind,”
but we are ready for “palms up,” for viewing
commonality and remember the truth:

We are all from Africa, and I am not “white,”
I am Euro-American, born of a race who dwelt
in colder climes… I am beige and melanin-deprived.

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Image from mnsu.edu (Minnesota State University, Diversity Office, used by permission)


“Colored” was the prompt from the fabulous Kim Nelson at Poets United, and I decided to take it head-on.
Try this: Line up all your friends,or your kids’ friends, all ethnicities, and have then put their palms up.
Without exception, unless they’ve been playing in the mud, the palms are white,
as are the soles of the feet. Then, for a beautiful array of browns, hands down! Peace, Amy