Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tan to Tamarind: Poems About the Color Brown

Tan to Tamarind: Poems About the Color Brown by Malathi Michelle Iyengar, Jamel Akib (Illustrator)
When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Tan, sienna, topaz, or tamarind? Poet Malathi Michelle Iyengar sees a whole spectrum of beautiful shades of brown. The author adds this note: "When I was a little girl in North Carolina, I hated waiting for the school bus. Every day at the bus stop a group of older kids would call me names and make fun of my brown skin, saying brown was a dirty, ugly color. I longed to trade my complexion for peachy-pink. I still remember sitting in the bathtub and hoping that if I just scrubbed hard enough the brown would go away. As I got older I began discovering wonderful stories and poems written by and about proud brown people. When I read their words, I didn't feel ugly or dirty anymore...Today, when I look in the mirror, I feel happy and lucky to see a brown face smiling back at me. Because, from tan to tamarind, brown is a beautiful color..."
My face.
Milk-tea brown.
I am brown. I am beautiful.
Your face.
Sienna brown
or cocoa brown,
café con leche brown or
radiant ocher brown.
Our hands, our fingers.
Cinnamon brown
or rich coffee brown,
sandalwood brown or rosy adobe brown.
Our ankles, our feet.
Nutmeg brown
or mocha brown,
dark chocolate brown
or tawny golden brown.
Our eyes.
Luminous topaz brown
or sweet cappuccino brown,
shiny sepia brown
or twinkling brown.
Our hair.
Spruce brown
or bay brown,
russet brown or
deep tamarind brown.
We are brown. We are beautiful.

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