Growing up, I noticed my skin was different from the people I was surrounded with.
I didn’t understand the color of my skin or why it made me innately less than.
I didn’t know why a boy told me my skin resembled feces or why that meant I should be treated like I was from another species.
I never failed to compare myself to other little girls.
I grew up thinking their straight hair was better than my curls.
I knew my curly hair was different than others but I didn’t quite know why that meant it should be smothered.
I always felt excluded from both cultures I belonged to.
I couldn’t help but think, do I really belong if I’m not accepted?
I grew up with the constant feeling of my identity continuously being tested.
I grew up spending summers inside to avoid the sun.
I restricted myself from childhood joys and fun to contain my dark skin.
I foolishly felt better about myself when I looked more caramel than chocolate.
I grew up having daily battles with hair products and tools.
I used anything I could to tame my volumes of natural hair.
I tried so hard to kill my kinks and curls but I can’t explain why I cared.
I was never black enough to partake in black conversation.
I wasn’t Pakistani enough to relate to Pakistani people.
I grew up thinking, where do I fit in if no one sees me as an equal?
Now I’m grown up.
Now I realize my skin isn’t accepted because it is like gold.
My skin is put down because it is too bold for others to handle.
But my melanin is so intense I have to remain on the defense.
Now I understand my hair is problematic because it is fantastic.
My hair is viewed as unprofessional despite it being exceptional.
But my hair is so outright I have to fight for its appearance.
Now I know being biracial isn’t always tolerated.
My two different ethnicities is something that is berated.
But my heritage is something that should be celebrated.
Now I’m grown up and I love the skin that I was blessed to be in.
Now I’m grown up and I flaunt my curls to the world.
Now I’m grown up and I embrace my race with grace.