Please Select One Answer
Ethnicity (or race):
Today I am white.
425˚F and professional smoothing serum
is all it takes to get straight, neat hair.
I wear a matching blouse and sweater set from TJ Maxx
and dress it up with $10 pearls from
Burlington Coat factory.
The store clerk greets me
with a warm smile at checkout and a
friendly lady in the parking lot invites me to church.
The preacher talks about loving your neighbor.
Some older woman in the pew behind me scoffs,
“I can’t fathom where all this fuss about racism is coming from –
I don’t see color.”
I don’t either. I’m the only
Ethnic person here.
▫ Black/African American
Today I am black.
It’s been a hot summer, so
I have my hair braided to keep it neat.
I go to the store and get arrested for shoplifting.
I guess I think I’m Robin Hood when
I stash a pack of diapers underneath the cart
for my single mom friend and
try to walk out with it.
I had done it once before, but maybe
they are watching the cameras closer this day.
During the booking process, the official
records me as African American.
Who needs a spray tan when crime colors you
How to Get an A+ in Dissociation 101
Drag your feet through the motions of day.
Slide beneath the foreign bodies of strangers.
Return to your assigned room.
Melt into the sheet of rock posed as a dormitory bed.
Diminish cognizance with white horse pills from a clear orange bottle.
Stay stationary while the silence spins.
Let nothingness buzz in your inner ear: the bark of a non-existent dog,
the squeals from absent children playing.
Become an embodied void:
Hungry, but not for food
dry without thirst.
Your chest does not rise,
though you still breathe.
Your windows have no curtains,
yet no light enters the room–
only frigid air,
snaking its way to your fingers and toes.
Valerie Frost is a Garden State native. She lives and works in Central Kentucky with her twin three-year-olds. Her poems have appeared in the Eastern Iowa Review, Thimble Lit Mag, and Anti-Heroin Chic, and she has forthcoming pieces elsewhere.