"Brown Skinned and Beautiful" By Fareh Malik

We are the ones who look like the soil in your planters

and the gingerbread men you make on Christmas

the ones who are the coffee beans—

your complex order from Starbucks

I am someone who was given

quicksand skin

an excuse for your harsh gaze

to sink in slow

I carry my mother’s sweet, chocolate words

and my father’s soot-soaked hours of labour

I am the brick for your chimneys and the lumber

sacrificed for the fire—

the spices you came to my people for

blended together in mortar and pestle

concocted the melanin that

you wished you could taste


I am the one you raised a gun at

the one you said looked like a threat

this skin was the stage where your appreciation

became fear

from this I learned

no matter how nurturing the tree

people may still bring axes to your trunk




FAREH MALIK is an emerging poet and spoken-word artist. His work has been accepted and featured in several anthologies and literary journals. He was the first-place recipient of Muslim Hands’ 2020 Poetry Contest. Fareh frequently uses his work to highlight the intersection between social racialization and mental health. He draws most of his inspiration from his own history, as well as the stories of his friends and family. He also loves bubble tea. A lot.