N wa Akhwatoha*

Starting with N
A six letter word derivative of a neutral description of color
Became one used to cut, like daggers
Far from the neutrality of its early days
Came to signify and symbolize a people enslaved
A continent of kings, uprooted, broken, and reduced to lesser beings
Cattle to be bred and traded at evil’s whims.

Fast forward a few hundred years
And now the 6 letter word is flipped
Modified, modernized, “personalized”
Chopped and screwed
into 5
5 fingers that form a first
Casting deluded shadows of empowerment.

1 letter short and stripped of its color, now
Catchier, sexier, and used the world over
And you know what they say
Words don’t hurt like sticks and
5 is 1 stab less than 6 so
Led to believe that now it hurts less.

Back to the continent of kings
Now regressed into an overweight high school girl with low self esteem
Eager to please
Desperate to regain an acceptable place
Employing the same techniques once used to break except
We willingly separate
Neatly align in the color palette of our race
With the high yellows at the top, pointing in disdain at the darkies down below
We don’t need the N-word, we have our own terms and lingo:
3ab, 3abid, 3aboya, khadim
Just the tip of an iceberg my tongue does not wish to stick to
Cringes from
Thought coming home would mean finally claiming my natural born right to equality
Instead, bitter reality forces me to remind my people:

Take advantage

At home, stay black, and be proud
‘Cause everywhere else, you’re just another lowly nigger lost in the crowd.

*N and her sisters.

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