Excerpts from “Being” a self-published Poetry book by Talia Basma. Talia released her first collection of poetry as a chronology of her teen life. “Being” offers readers insight on the life of being a Muslim American teen through poetry about the internal, as well as external, struggle and beauty of life.

 

Rosie the Mulatto

Rosie was a mulatto girl
Her skin kissed by the sun
with a nose covered in freckles

Her skin wasn’t all that dark
But her White blood
Couldn’t stop the kinky locks
From curling and twirling
Into a beautiful black cloud

She was teased and called
Afro Thunder as a kid
But her skin was too light
For her to join the black crowd

She just wanted to be herself
But society wanted her to be one
When she tried to pick
She didn’t feel herself
She wasn’t some white girl
She wasn’t some black girl

Why did she have to pick?
She was mulatto and proud of it

Human

I am a Muslim
I was raised on Islamic principals
To be kind, to be forgiving
To pray and fast

I have African blood running through my veins
I have curls that can’t be tamed
I have skin that tans after half a day

I have Lebanese blood coursing through my veins
I can eat you under the table if it’s a warannab competition
Afterward, I’ll even have Batlawa in the kitchen
I can understand my mother when she speaks to me in Arabic

I am a woman
I can birth a child
I can run a company
But you can’t dictate what I do
I can run for president
I can sing, I can dance
I can cook, I can clean
I can smile, I can frown
It’s not up to you which I do

You will not scare me into taking off my scarf
Try to strip me of it and I’ll take it back
I’ll explain to you how I’m not oppressed,
I’m not inferior to you,
I’m not a terrorist

You will not straighten my curls
You will not tell me I’m not beautiful
Because I know beauty is within
Cheesy as that may sound
It’s my polite way of saying
“I’m sorry your brain is too plain
To find me aesthetically pleasing.”

You will not tell me to go back to my country
Because I’m right where I belong
Well, just as much as you.

You will not tell me to have sex with you
You will not tell me to shut up and listen
If you do I’ll fight you with reason
I’ll fight you until you look in the mirror and see
The beast you’ve allowed to whisper in your ear and feed your ego

For you may treat me lesser
Like a gum on your shoe
But you and I are equals.
As much as you want to deny it
I am human
Just like you.

Our

You don’t have to like me
You don’t have to like her
You don’t have to like him
You don’t have to like them

You can hate the people of my culture
You can think I’m stupid, I’m crazy
You can eat the food but hate the clothes
You can hate the food, but wear the clothes

All I ask is for respect
I don’t need your validation to be someone
Who loves talking about their diverse culture
I do need you to stay open minded

Your food isn’t the only food
My food isn’t the only food
Your clothes aren’t the only clothes
My clothes aren’t the only clothes

All I ask is you respect my beliefs
Apologize when you’ve done wrong

In return, I’ll do the same
In return, we’ll come together

Your food will converge with my food
Your clothes will stitch with my clothes
Your culture will merge with my culture and
We’ll create something beautiful
Something new
We’ll call it our culture

To The Slave Girls We’ve Forgotten

She was beautiful
She was kind
She believed in good
She was smart
She could have
made the world
a better place
a safe place
a diverse place
a loving place
a world peace kind of place

But her life went to waste
Because her skin was a color
Deemed a disgrace
Never mind her brain
Never mind her heart
Never mind her spirt
Because her skin was a color
Deemed unworthy of an equal place

Go Back

Where did I come from?
The kitchen?
My house?
The city?
A different country?
A whole new continent?
I am a human
I am simply existing
To live my life
The best way I know how
You may know a different way
But our ways don’t have to
Collide in a wave of hate

We all came somewhere
Your blood is no superior to mine
Even if you could fly
I see no reason for you
To tell me to go back
To where you came from
Go back to your people

You complain about folks
Coming into your town
But share how you’re proud
Of your home roots
Knowing full well
That you are no more
Of a citizen than I am

You should either hold
The belief that the land
Belongs to everyone
Or the notion that it
Belongs to no one

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