White Womanhood


"You were afraid to nurse your young
lest fallen breast offend your master's
sight
and he should flee to firmer loveliness.
And so you passed them, your children,
on to me.

Flesh that was your flesh and blood that
was your blood
drank the sustenance of life from me.
And as I gave suckle 1 knew 1 nursed my own child's enemy. I could have lied, told you your child was fed till it was dead of hunger. But I could not find the heart to kill orphaned innocence.



For as it fed, it smiled and burped and gurgled with content
and as for color knew no difference.
Yes, in that first while I kept your sons and daughters alive.
But when they grew strong in
blood and bone that was of my milk
you taught them to hate me. Put your decay in their hearts and upon
their lips so that strength that was of myself turned and spat upon me,
despoiled my daughters, and killed my sons. You know I speak true."



Beah Richards, excerpt from "A Black
Woman Speaks of White Womanhood"

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