February 10, 2017
My Skin

What is the taste of a skin color that has to be excused with a modifier? A poem on our Belles-Lettres column.

by Mutia Assyifa
Culture // Prose & Poem
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hitam manis
tastes bitter.
hitam manis
tastes like leftover scraps
of colonialism
between my gritted teeth.
hitam manis
tastes like the stale spit
accrueing inside a mouth shut
while feigning gratitude.



 
hitam
tastes honest,
citric coriander.
hitam
tastes like survival
as it is passed down from my mother
and mothers that came before.
hitam
tastes warm,
sunshine and brine.
 
my skin does not need qualifiers;
my skin does not need your pity
extra two syllables—
ma-nis, des-pite—
to describe its hue;


my skin
and not yours to use
to value your own.
 
hitam—
hitam saja
 
 
 
Mutia Assyifa is a recent graduate trying to find her footing in Indonesia after years in America’s Northeast. She is an aspiring public health researcher and staunch intersectional feminist.