by LaVerne Prade

Mama always told me to hold my head high and be proud. Shoot, I got this big butt and my lips are even bigger. Mama never told me what to do about that. My skin color is a dull black and my nose is as wide as the ocean. Sure wish mama was here. She would probably say, "baby girl, (mama always called me that), sometimes the beauty on the inside is better than the beauty on the outside". Huh, bet mama thought being black was gonna be easy too. When I look in the mirror I think to myself, Vivian girl, you ain't bad, until I get closer and closer and then I realize that can't nobody see my inside beauty so what good is it doing me anyway? Mama never told me it would be like this. I always thought that if you love people they just loved you back.

My friend Norma, well she's my secret friend, she's got is so easy, being white and all. She can do anything she wants to do, be a Doctor if she wants. Why couldn't I be white too? Just think, no more strange looks and I could do anything I wanted to do. I bet I would even get a boyfriend. Oh dream on Vivian girl, you was born black and that's the way you gonna die.

You know sometimes I even wonder if maybe mama's mama sinned and God is somehow punishing me 'cause of that. If you're listening God, I'm sure she didn't mean it. I bet she even asked for forgiveness. I wonder if God even knew I would have so much trouble. But then, it can't be God's fault, 'cause mama always said God don't make mistakes. Then what happened to me?

I wish I could put in my order with God, you know like when you go out to a restaurant? I would ask God for longer straighter hair, bluer eyes, and a much smaller nose. And God while your at it, can you make me a little lighter? Give me a break, who do I think I'm fooling? God can't hear me, nobody can hear me.

My friend Norma, you know the one I told you about earlier? Well she tells me that being white is much like being black. I thought it had to be much easier. Reminds me of my daddy, oh I know I haven't mentioned him yet. Well, my daddy was a large man with strong, broad shoulders. He always scared me when I was little. With his black face, his eyes looked much whiter. He had this look and you knew he meant business. He was a loving man and mama worshipped the ground he walked on. People 'round town was scared of daddy, when he came through you should have seen their faces. I always found that so interesting, that a man like daddy could have that affect on people, just with that black face.

When I was little I used to play in the mirror. You know, play dress up with some of mama's old clothes. What fun that used to be, until mama caught me. I would pretend to be a big time Doctor, and I had just received the Doctor of the Year Award. What a joke!!! I'd be lucky to be the lady that cleans the Doctor's office, ain't no white person gonna pay good money to be touched by these black hands.

I can't help but wonder what goes through their minds when they see this black face? Is it fear, curiosity or are they just confused? Sure wish mama would have warned me.

Payback by LaVerne Prade

© Copyright 1992. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

TimBookTu Logo

Return to the Table of Contents | Return to Main Page