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black bird, white sheep, mixed zebra

by Nichole Shaw
Illustration by Mariah Cooper

itch in my scalp, prickling with your
judgement at my mixed skin,
black and white like the stripes.
banded with division, united in
being—existence a constant oxymoron.

organic blackness, kinky curls chaotic on my
mind while they fetishize my shapely body.

darkness within the white exterior, skin
fair enough to pass by as privileged but
hair wild enough to be oppressed like
an endangered species.
unruly and rebellious in nature, I am split between
black nature and weight of white presentation.

fluffy hair like that of sheep,
ostracized like them too, the wool soft,
curling in on itself much like
me when confronted with my difference.
although soft, they’re resourceful and strong in their
vulnerability—there’s black sheep too.

Illustration by Mariah Cooper

Illustration by Mariah Cooper