Things Learned

“Stop crying! Only sissies and babies cry!”

No more tears came. Age 3.

“Quit sucking your thumb! People will think you’re a baby!”

No more self-nurturing. Age 7.

“Stop biting your nails! Look how ugly your hands look!”

Try to hide our hands. Age 7……….

“Get that make-up off! You look like you’ve been sucking a sow!”

Never use make-up again. Age 14.

“Eat more! You don’t even look like a girl you’re so skinny!”

Eat everything in sight and wear disguising clothes. Age 7…………

“Get your teeth fixed and don’t smile! You look ugly!”

Pull the teeth, endure the pain. Adulthood.

Learned self hate. Learned worthlessness. Learned shame.

Then they said, “Don’t be seen with black kids, brown kids, queers,”

And we couldn’t do it.

We couldn’t pass the hate on.

We knew and know what it feels like and we refused.

Self hate doesn’t have to be pushed onto others.

Instead, “I know. I love you for you,” is what we say now.

The hate for others was something we never learned.

Love you! You’re good enough for us!

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