Voice

Yes I have a big voice,

No I’m not proud.

I’m a five year old girl.

Mumma told me not to speak,

Pappa told me, no true woman is loud.

Grandma told me,

“It isn’t lady-like.”

I didn’t understand.

 

Yes I have a big voice,

No I’m not proud.

I’m a ten year old girl.

My whole school shushed me.

“I got excited, I’m sorry!”

But it didn’t save me,

From being the embarrassment.

 

Yes I have a big voice,

No I’m not proud.

I’m a fifteen year old girl,

Too scared to speak a word.

Maybe I’d be too loud,

Be the embarrassment I’m afraid of being.

I got so quiet,

I don’t have a friend around.

 

Yes, I have a big voice

No, I don’t care.

I’m an eighteen year old girl,

And I’ve learned,

A woman with a big voice?

I’m not the only one.

We’re fighters,

We aren’t unique.

I won’t shut up,

I’ve found people who don’t mind.

 

This big voice,

I use it for all the right causes,

So don’t you tell me to shut up.

Yes I have a big voice,

And yes,

I’m proud.

 

The Danger of A Single Story

“How old are you?”, the older woman asked.

“Ten”, said the scraggy girl.

“Ah! Little children won’t get it.”

Dear older woman,

That ten year old girl,

Works at the restaurant near your house,

Cleaning bathroom stalls,

Dealing with men objectifying her,

She’s seen more than you have,

On your vacations funded by ‘daddy.’

Is age but just a number?

 

“You’re lucky you’re fair,

Your skin tone’s great!”

All that aside,

She was called ‘yellow’,

For her relatively small eyes,

But she was Indian too.

Is she not human,

Her looks put aside?

 

“Africa this, Africa that”

Does one fail to realize that Africa,

Is a continent,

With fifty-four different countries,

The people patriotic,

But wanting to be recognized,

As something more,

Than just an African.

 

Dear boy who supports the queer,

Quite ironic you say so,

When ten minutes ago,

You used a homophobic slur,

And called someone gay,

For not being a stereotypical boy.

Does going against the stereotype,

And being oneself make you gay?

Perhaps if you meant ‘gay’ to be ‘happy’,

Then you’re absolutely correct.

 

Her dresses were baggy,

And maybe terribly long,

But did they consider,

Her having an oppressive father,

Where all she wanted to do,

Was cover the marks,

She was willing to forget.

The galaxies on her skin,

Caused by havoc and not pleasure?

 

‘Slut’, this one was called.

They didn’t understand that,

All those times,

She was an innocent girl,

A hopeless romantic,

Too trusting for her own good,

But was taken advantage of.

Suddenly, saying ‘no’ meant,

Trying harder and being forceful.

Suddenly, ‘No’ meant,

She was asking for it.

 

They saw the hijab,

A quick judgment made.

‘Terrorist’, she was labeled.

Funny how four letters,

I,S,I,S,

Ruined the reputation of one religion ,

When in actuality,

The people of that very religion,

Fear and are against that very organization,

Defaming their innocent faith.

 

Stereotypes,

They’re nothing but a single story unexplained.