Microaggressions

Trinity Jones

He approached me in the middle of the courtyard – an ocean

of fair skin and straight hair – in shorts red

as his arms, legs and neck, with the focal point a blue ‘X’

with evenly placed white stars and said you’re pretty

for a black girl.

I imagine he meant my lips weren’t nearly as “baboon-like”

and my hair more kempt than the other monkeys he’s seen.

Or perhaps my skin is light enough

less “tar-like” to satisfy his Aryan standards.

Ignoring the unnerved pang of my subconscious

and the unraveling of my esteem, I gave a quick flash of my jigaboo smile

paired with a simple thank you,

hoping false gratitude was enough to satisfy,

wincing as my thanks sang the revised tune of Ol’ Zip Coon

(O zip a duden duden duden zip a duden day).

He walked away proud of his charity, and I remained

charcoal impersonating clean chalk,

my hand trying desperately to tear the pigment off itself.