Plain Yogurt


by Rita Bagala

Lowell High School

Age: 17


When the boy you’ve been crushing on since freshman year tells you that he won’t date you because you are black, you’ll feel lost and you’ll want to change yourself.


Step 1: Let go of your self-respect


You will see your dark skin as a flaw and try every form of make up to try and make up for all the boys that did not tell you that it was beautiful.


Step 2: Scrub your skin with insecurity


You will wake up with hate for your skin. Dream of the perfect girl with a light caramel complexion walking on his arm. And you will desperately try to be that girl. Imagine that the way he tells her that she is beautiful will someday be meant for you. When you shower you will search for her and think that if you scrub your skin hard enough she will be there as if your dark skin is nothing but a layer.


Step 3: Stay out of the sun


You will blame the sun the sun for your discoloration but end up asking yourself how the sun shone through your mother’s womb because you know pretty well you were born that way.


Step 4: Apply plain yogurt


You’ll become addicted to this need for change. Lock yourself in the bathroom and strip down to almost nothing. You will go through just enough plain yogurt to engulf your body and when you step up to the mirror you’ll find nothing but a ghost.


Step 5: Wear masks made of lemon and honey.


The acidity of the lemons will burn through what’s left of your skin and the honey will numb the pain. When you peel them off you’ll see all the smiles you used to give. The comfort you felt in your body and self respect, and you will miss them.


So when the boy you’ve been crushing on since freshman year tells you that he won’t date you because you are black do not change yourself.


Do not think that you are only beautiful if those words come out of the lips of a moronic high school boy, no matter how cute he is.


Do not think that your dark skin is just a peel-able flaw.


Do not blame your mother for birthing you the way she did.


Do not Google how to become light skinned.


Do not lose yourself.


Realize that your dreams of perfect complexions are actually nightmares and he just doesn’t understand that skin color is not the only thing that makes you who you are. You are not just a ghost filled with insecurity, you are the epitome of confident, and you are beautiful. If you don’t believe me, I will tell you that you are every time you look in the mirror. Replace your insecurity with the self respect you always had but could never find.


Hopefully you’ll wake up and see that the girl you’ve been searching for is a dark-skinned beauty who just has to learn to believe it.


You don’t need a boy to help you find her.


She was never lost.


Monday Meditation: photograph of a 1923 lynching by ken wilbecan

Fly covered black body
dangling from tree
while long shadow fingers
of evening sun entertain
with bloody light shows

Grotesque darky/scarecrow
fruit of white love
life plucked from him
by goodcitizens
anonymous in their
converted bed sheets.

Wives and children
look on, observe, enjoy it.
Picnic lunches almost gone
Drinking wine, lemonade, mint juleps
while happy smiles
flush their fishbelly redneck faces

“Shake the tree again, Daddy,
I want to see him dance.”

Things were simple then,
one nigger equaled one picnic.
But technology has
advanced with time.
White folks
are more sophisticated now
…and bed sheets come in colors.