Being a brown girl is living on borrowed time.
Think of it like an hourglass that belongs to anyone else but you. The grains of sand begin to fall the moment you realise that you’re playing a dangerous game.
Like any other game, there are rules. Specifically, there’s a set decorum that you have to internalise and swallow when you’re a brown girl. The basic ones are simple and you will hear them over and over: don’t take up too much space, don’t be too loud, don’t be too brash, don’t be too much of a problem. Don’t be too much. Don’t be.
If you’re hungry enough, though, you’ll go further.
If you’re willing and have a fire inside you to get ahead, you’ll do some things extra. After all, ambition is a snake that whispers to you when you dream. Sometimes, you can’t help it. Sometimes every fibre of your being screams to be too much all the time.
So you compromise.
If you’re a brown girl and you were cunning, you made friends with the faux-fragile white girls in your grade school classes. They wore their brand value femininity like freshly minted entitlement. As they grew up and grew into new forms of self-actualisation, you were there to cheer them along. They discovered their favourite flavour of feminism: self-empowerment at any cost. You kept quiet unless it was to congratulate them on finding new ways to justify their privilege. It stroked their egos to have an exotic bird chirping at them, and in turn you weaponised their victimhood. You wore it like a shield against a world that watched for venom every time you spoke.
In exchange for this safety, you had to settle for selling out. There was no stirring the pot. There was no honesty. Your honesty was laced and tied with bows and presented to your white women counterparts so they could laugh it off and feel authentic. Every night you worried the next day you would stop contributing to the fodder and be excluded from ring of protection.
But things began to change.
Bubbling inside you is a fury that refuses to subside for your comfort. The anger is coded in your DNA. The harsh word or glare fights to escape from your clutches.
So on the very day so-and-so white girl lets out one micro-aggression too many, you snap.
Everything you put into the facade shatters like a glass plate hitting the tile. The millions of pieces ricochet across the floor into sharp, angry recounts of how you lost your shit.
No one will say the words you long to hear. No one gives in to your sadistic urge to just get it over with already. You wait, but there’s no finger pointing at the colour of your skin or how your upper lip hair grows the slightest bit faster than the others. There’s no neon poster board remarking on your ashy elbows or your purple lips or your stubbly legs. No, these things are better left to whispers and silent looks. The speculation that swarms like bees inside your head will be far more torturous.
And just like that your time is up. No sense of satisfaction for finally standing up for yourself. You will never, ever get the confrontation you want and dread. Instead, jabs at your volatile temper and your ugly sense of style and your disagreeable opinions will surface with a ferocity you have never felt before. Whether they are exaggerated truths or outrageous lies, you can’t say a thing. A single indiscretion and you’re branded the villain forever. After all, they shrouded you with their white femininity, and you dared to stand against them? Thorned roses like difficult and arrogant will scar your hands. They love to frame us as crazy, a threat to their delicate sensibilities. It’s far easier than looking into themselves, and finding flaw within the rigid exclusion of white womanhood.
All along, you were trying to secure your narrative, but you overestimated your ability to compromise your whole being. When you cock white innocence like a gun to protect yourself, a day will come when you find yourself staring straight down the barrel.