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Wise Words from One Brown Girl to Another

2 min read

by Hana Shafi 

Your Story, My Story

you were an outcast on the playground

your big nose couldn’t fit in the games

and your hair was too unruly

for the ponytail girls, the ponytail girls.

you grew up angry

as your parents expected the world from you

we came here with nothing for you

they said, ringing through your dreams.

the first time a white boy looked at you,

it felt like you were worth something.

you wonder why his pale gaze

makes a brown girl feel that way.

you’re not the billboard girl,

in the ponytail club,

the henna up your arms is fading

descending into oranges, discarded.

your life became one of expectation,

trying to please them

and them

but never you.

you’re 21 now. you think of the playground days

of your parents who are yelling for you from downstairs,

of the white boys and their strange gazes,

and you wonder

is it too late to start pleasing me?

no, it’s never too late.

you were an outcast on the playground

your big nose couldn’t fit in the games

and your hair was too unruly

for the ponytail girls, the ponytail girls.

you grew up angry

as your parents expected the world from you

we came here with nothing for you

they said, ringing through your dreams.

the first time a white boy looked at you,

it felt like you were worth something.

you wonder why his pale gaze

makes a brown girl feel that way.

you’re not the billboard girl,

in the ponytail club,

the henna up your arms is fading

descending into oranges, discarded.

your life became one of expectation,

trying to please them

and them

but never you.

you’re 21 now. you think of the playground days

of your parents who are yelling for you from downstairs,

of the white boys and their strange gazes,

and you wonder

is it too late to start pleasing me?

no, it’s never too late.


Hana Shafi

Hana Shafi is a journalist, artist, and poet. She spends her time hanging around Toronto, doodling, and re-watching Lord of the Rings. For more poetry by Hana, visit her Tumblr page.

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