from Prism by Niema Lightseed

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I am not my skin.
But that is what you see.
This self-same covering
delineates the edges
of acceptable, appropriate, separating wrong from right.
I am not this skin but its blackness is the first impression I give.
At first glance, I am cast into the realm of dark things.
A player in the polarity war.
Despite education, compassion, creativity,
or any other marker of human worth
I will forever be
below, separate, untouchable
in the eyes of those who measure by the color spectrum.
Think yourself immune?
Believe you are beyond the reaches of racism?
Beyond petty differentiations of color and skin?
What do you think when you hear the word "white?"
light, dark,
clean, dirty,
good, bad?
Who always wins in this race against?

If we want to end racism we must look at the filters clouding our vision
and the ways we contribute to division.
Stop blaming or playing victim.
Turn our fingers inward, downward,
reach our hands into mounds of fresh black earth.
Feel its moist coolness merge with our pores.
Drink in the fecund smells.
Let bugs traverse our flesh as the soft loam crumbles back to the ground,
and remember the richness of dark things.
Let beet stains stay on our cutting boards.
Let our children's knees carry the tale-tell brown of worthwhile exploration.
Notice every time we wince at the idea of the dark.
How we hide from our own unseen parts.
Question everything concerning the nature of good and evil
and how closely those ideas are tied to black and white.
Then look at my dark skin.
See the color, don't pretend
we are anything other than we are,
observe its smooth texture and tone
the way it hugs muscle and bone.
How it both is, and is not me.
and then tell me what you see.


from Prism, released November 5, 2019
Niema Lightseed ~ Poetry
Theo Grace ~ Music & Production
Benjamin Jack Crandall ~ Saxophone




Niema Lightseed Portland, Oregon

Niema Lightseed is a poet and priestess of the new paradigm dedicated to transforming oppression through art, embodiment education, linguistic analysis, and ritual.

Her poetry evokes the transformative power of art and reveals the beauty at the marrow of life.
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