This Black is Not Something to be Taken Off...
by Dáe Lee
The black is not something to be taken off.
It’s not something you can pick and choose to be,
choose to be a part of.
This black is not makeup, it is not a dance, a signature sneaker,
a poppin’ phrase, a hashtag, a statistic,
this black is history
for us all birthed with this skin,
it is also a reminder of reality.
For even if it doesn’t happen to me,
I know those who look like me, have and will have that “happen,”
happen. This is the same black the world is taught to hate in different
ways that I gotta watch what I say just to get my point across the plain
without someone up in arms or up with arms ready for a war I didn’t
start nor ask for. This is the black they make you out to feel like a
burden for; so much that your next of kin might hate their skin with just enough spin of the perception. This is the black that’s attacked in suits and hoodies, natural hair and weave, athletic and lazy, ambitious and complacent. I’d go through and feel it all again to be this black, over and over again, I’d be proud to have been born with the skin I’m in.
"I wrote this because at the time, I believe there was commotion about anti-blackness in the entertainment industry and it seems there are a plethora of mainstream entertainers that seem to fall in love with our skin while dismissing our pain; appropriating voices and our presence for their gain. So when I was writing this I wanted to express how serious for me it felt to be black and how much I praise my skin and that I would never ask for anything else no matter what we went through because there's so much beauty and pride that has come with having such an innate experience being black" - Dáe Lee
Dáe Lee: "I was born and raised in Los Angeles and the surrounding area. Surrounded by different factions that most face being black in America, I have always had a passion for connecting with our emotions and learning the way we communicate with each other based on the intricacies that make us who we are, so writing came naturally for me. It led me to sharing my thoughts and experiences in an oft-poetic form. I self-published my book "MARIGOLD" in 2016, which features my poetry, prose, and proverbs on emotional identity through introspection. As some feelings are addressed and grieved over, a rebirth of perception is allowed to flow, hence the title MariGold, a flower representing both grief and resurrection."
on commodification: "I believe we have such a beautiful way of telling our stories whether it is through music, fashion, film, or just simply by our commentary and vernacular. It seems like when you are watching TV or seeing an ad on social media that you notice a lot of the aforementioned becomes so commercialized while you see less and less of our faces. So I believe that our plight is profitable for the oppressor. It is a bit like alchemy. Seeing what can be made from pain whether it is humorous or monotonous or aspiring breeds of fire within all of us. In actuality, it doesn't surprise me how much they commodify our art and our voice. But I'd be lying if I said it did not hurt. Often times a lifestyle or a particular complex is perpetuated across the world that doesn't represent us because it is coming from the source. It hurts to see how our people struggle so much to build their identities just for them to be corporatized and consumed on a mass level without any respect or regard for what it takes to be us. At times it makes you jaded and question is it ever going to change. But I am optimistic that it most certainly will."
on marginalized voices: "It's imperative that our voices are heard because we are the most directly affected by the changes and the conditions of not only this country but in others that marginalize people and I press them for whatever their interests may be. Having your voice heard not only helps take control of the narrative but is a coping mechanism and a cathartic tool for us. We need to speak up because there are many like us going through this plight and perhaps don't feel their voice will matter. I believe it's even more important that we work together and make that happen for each other because we can often get caught up in the idea that we need one designated leader for that to happen when in fact it takes a community to lead the charge."
on neglected topics in marginalized communities: "I think we need to discuss in depth about our emotional identity and our emotional state, especially in these times. I believe that because of the injustices and the hardships that we often face, we can focus so much on the suppression of that pain and overcoming those obstacles but I would like to see us soon overcome the emotional baggage that has come with that. I would like to see us be more transparent and accepting of each other within our communities. A lot of this starts with self-care. I believe if we have a better understanding of how we feel on the inside that we can better communicate within these constructs."