“There was a little girl, and she had a little curl right in the middle of her forehead;
when she was good she was very, very good but when she was bad she was horrid.”
That was the rhyme that my dad said to me with that smile on his face that would say
“Whatever may happen I’m proud of my girls, but laugh at the world come what may.”
My mum with a tissue would spit wash my face, and my knees and my elbows too.
Put on my clean dress, my hair brushed to tears into a sweet little black-girl hair-do.
“You make sure you are clean wherever you go I won’t have those bad people say
that because we are black we are dirty, because that is those black people’s way”.
I never thought for one second I was different until off to school I was sent
“Go back home you sambo” confused me. Which home was it that they meant?
For many a week, I prayed each night for a miracle to befall me:
To wake up as white as the friends I had made, to be the same as them: pale-white and chalky.
I told my dear mum of the names I’d been called by some of those children in ‘fun’
“My darling you have two choices, to stand and to fight, or to run.
The whole of your life a choice you will have, you will have a decision to make:
to work out if to fight it is worth it, and for your temper to sleep or to wake”.
From that day I had in my head a path, a mantra to follow
to do as I would be done-by by others, to be kind, to be pleasant, not shallow.
Through school I tried to be that person, the person they wanted me to,
At any one time it was different: ‘Black’, ‘British’, ‘Sussex’, ‘Coloured’ but who?
Who was the real person, the person that others would see?
Most said it was only the friend, that is what they wanted from me.
But through life I’ve found that people question you, a choice they ask you to make
whether government, job, friends, black or white, ask a choice usually for their OWN sake.
And so for all of you people, who want a decision from me,
from someone who knows if it’s so important to you, YOU decide, because me – well me, I am free!
I’m free because I have chosen that what is important in life:
is the soul within the body, to be a good friend, good mother, good wife;
To not judge a book by its cover; To look deep inside of the shell.
Some people are good, some people are bad, some live with, or they give hell.
So be interested friend where you come from, be proud of who came before,
but remember it’s actions that count in life, to receive love and give love is more
important than an outward appearance a shiny apple may have worms at it’s core.
The plainest things in life need a second look or a third, go on just try one more.
To see the beauty within keep on looking, beyond what your eyes may behold
to the goodness inside of a person, and the warmth inside of the cold.
So I’m grateful you see for my start in life, to my parents, one black and one white,
they showed me that colour’s not outward, you must look deep inside for the light.