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  • Writer's pictureKayleigh Willis

'When I was a Black Girl' by Willelmina Joseph-Loewenthal

I wore white socks that sat halfway up my calves,

One always higher than the other.

Chilblains chewed toes that paraffin did not cure,

No matter what I did.

When I was a Black girl

I was loud and noisy at home;

Yet in the street, I had no voice.

I raged and fumed, silently seething,

Never coming to boil.

No matter what I did.

When I was a Black girl

My mother would yell at me,

So did my father at times; my siblings, often.

That’s because I tried to be strong,

When I was always wrong,

No matter what I did.

When I was a Black girl

I dreamt of white things with a Black head,

Imagine that.

Enid Blyton was my best friend.

I had no other,

No matter what I did.

When I was a Black girl,

I had nappy hair,

Nappy hair on a nappy head, crying tears of shame.

No escaping that,

No matter what I did.

Now I’m a Black woman,

I wear socks from Afrika, of equal length;

My voice is a person who walks ahead of me;

How I long for that dear voice, shouting in love for me.

My friends see the me behind my smile;

My wounds are bandaged

with the words that spill from my pen,

and my hair?

My hair is a crown

Of black sand and snow,

Proclaiming my royalty.

Now I am a Black woman,

I am a Queen… No matter what I do.

All Rights. Willelmina Joseph-Loewenthal.

Willelmina Joseph-Loewenthal is an African Caribbean lady of mature years who lives in

London, U.K. Willelmina has been writing poetry, flash fiction and short stories for several

years. For the past year (as a consequence of several, short, creative writing courses), she

has been submitting pieces and has had a few successes. In her day job, Willelmina is a mental health trainer in a National Health Service (NHS) Recovery and Wellbeing College, working with people with sometimes severe and complex mental health difficulties. Having lived experience of mental health difficulties herself, she facilitates this training.

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