is the colour of earth. clay.
of godsent soil. the unapologetic shade
of my ancestor’s toil; my grandfather
on his boat, his leathered skin, bahasa jawa,
melanin. but they’ve been telling me
that you look better in these colours
because some colours
just don’t suit your skin tone
because, you know,
it doesn’t show that contrast
(when the only contrast I see,
is your ignorant thinking
and your honours degree).
then i try to explain. then i laugh it off.
they’ve been telling me that having
fair skin, is more marketable
for marriage, for men,
so please try these capsules
and sachets to lighten your complexion
in three days. then i try to explain.
then i laugh it off.
they’ve been telling me
that brown only looks good on you
if you are a bar of chocolate
or fried fermented soybeans
or a pot of curry, yknow?
they’ve been telling me that
the little overseas tan they got
exasperated them, as they raised their arms
beside mine to gauge the darker shade,
gasped and said oh my god i look so malay now!
then i try to explain. then i laugh it off.
they’ve been telling me jangan kat luar lama sangat
nanti jadi gelap (don’t play sports outside for too long
or else you’ll grow darker) and let’s embrace our tradition
but take a look at our beautiful clothes on these white models
and we’re all for diversity but i really just want to eat
your rendang and you malays at the back of your class
always failing your maths please buck up and
your hijab is breaking the optics of this company and
you either learn our language or risk not getting hired and
in our group we only speak channel 8 so you either learn or just
stay quiet and how come you speak english so well
do you have chinese blood and you both wear the hijab so
you both look kinda the same and for the past three years i’m struggling
to pronounce your name and how come some malays can drink
and eat pork and do wild things but you cannot and
how come your people are usually the ones homeless and poor and
why are you all so insufferably lazy and stuck in a corner and oh no
we bought the cake from a non-halal shop and and why do your people
keep breeding don’t yall know how to stop? then i try to explain
but then i laugh it off. then i laugh it off.
then i laugh it off.

until i’m no longer laughing.


ps: you want to stand with the black lives,
then please stand first in your backyard.

5 thoughts on “Brown

  1. So beautifully penned !

    I’m from India and I too experienced the same thing especially my younger sister experienced a lot from all my family members. But we do we need to change the colour of our pride .


    1. Thank you. I feel you. The racism is so internalised sometimes the most degrading comments I’ve heard are from my own people. Just penning down my frustrations from the years of racist bs I’ve had had to face / hear other people had to experience since I was young.


      1. Yeah, you are right .

        You penned so beautifully, becoz those are the wory of your heart.
        Stay blessed. And just try to know your power and abilities.


  2. It reflects all the ignorance that exists around the world. I mean, in 2020 there are still people thinking like this? It’s very sad. Congratulations for the writing, it really sends the message. Have a nice day ๐Ÿ™‚๐Ÿ€


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