Who do I say I am when people ask?
Which face do I wear? The black or white mask?

Why can’t I look up my family tree?
Is it because of African slavery?

History has written my past in blood,
chains and whips, shackles and mud.

My bloodline, where does it begin?
In Africa or with whites as my kin?

My roots are somewhat unknown to me.
Am I a commoner or descended from royalty?

The lies told of history are a shame today.
They say my people sold each other away.

The tribal dialects were quite complex.
It was was the world’s language, would be my guess.

“Let’s sit down and talk this through.”
“I’ll take them or I’ll take you!”

“Either way, many of you are coming.”
“No point in hiding, no point in running.”

“We’re more advanced than your savage race.”
“We’ll hunt you down and brand your face.”

“You’re heading across the ocean to build our nation.”
“We’ll separate you from generation to generation.”

“Your stong bloodline will be diluted.”
“From this day forward, your people will be persecuted.”

“When we plant our seed, pure African blood is finished.”
“Your people were conquered, your people were vanquished.”

“We’ll sell your brothers and sisters down river.”
“If you don’t do what you’re told, this lash will make you quiver.”

“Little girl, you’re descended from an African king.”
“You’re not so proud now as you wear this collar ring.”

“You no longer belong to your mom and dad, oh no!”
“You’re my property, you belong to me, now go!”

“Get on that ship, get down in the hold!”
“Don’t look back, just do as you’re told!”

“Fields of cotton await your sweat.”
“With you, my plantation will flourish, I’m set.”

Many years have passed and I no longer ask,
because I know I wear, a black and white mask.

Written by,

Shelby I. Courtland

7 thoughts on “Mask!

  1. Sounds like you’ve got a wonderful family going on there. You are truly blessed. It is good to see families not holding grudges or letting differences divide them. I wish mine would get it together. Sigh…!!!


  2. I can certainly see where it came from because when you take a look around, well…you see what I see because it’s everywhere to be seen. My family will not come together for anything. They fight at funerals and the jealousy amongst them is just ridiculous. They refuse to even acknowledge that they’re family and the snobbishness is just outrageous. I totally despair of them!


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