We are not Black, We are Brown

We are not Black, We are Brown

We Are Not black, We Are Brown

We are not black,

We are brown,

We are not the colour of tires,

Charcoal or bats

We are brown,

A million beautiful shades of same

We are not the black

Of blacklists, black sheep, blackmail

And black marias

We are the beautiful brown of

Toast bread, corn cakes,

Brown sugar


and dark chocolate

We are not colourless, evil,

Wicked or bedevilled

We are timeless, wholesome

Rich and fertile

We are not what you say we are

We are beautiful,

Despite our struggles and our scars

We still stand

Strong, proud, defiant

Don’t try to brand us with

Your thinly veiled contempt

And double speak

See us as we are

Not as you want us to be

We are not black,

We are brown.

54 thoughts on “We are not Black, We are Brown” by Sunshine (@nicolebassey)

  1. Sunshine (@nicolebassey)

    Welcome, Tell me everything , what you liked and what you hated,
    Dont be shy, dont be nice
    wear your specs, unsheathe your knife,
    Whatever you choose to do,
    let my writing be better because of you. :-)

    1. mehnnnnnnn! Breathe of sunshine! Dis is really nice. Be looking to see more ur stuff @nicolebassey

      1. Sunshine (@nicolebassey)

        Thank YOU! I love reading your works too. I have a challenge working without a contest or a prompt though, so perhaps you could give me a few promts…. :-)

        1. ….hahaha first, why must you wait for contests or Prompts?

          1. @shaifamily I dont know o! A lazy muse? a cramped schedule? inertia? :-)

            1. @nicolebassey well, you av to find a way. Otherwise, you’d be using a walking sticking before you get stuff out here.

              1. hmmm, maybe i needto create more contests :-) . Please join the Prizesand awards group. thanks

  2. “And double speak” – this looked misplaced to me

    Very nice though and I like the message!

    1. Sunshine (@nicolebassey)

      thank you teewah, i ll have to look st that doublespeak spot again. I intended to capture the confused messages the europeans/americans seem to spread about Africa. They say we are underdeveloped yet instead of offering us scholarships and trade oppurtunities they give us aid. They say we are corrupt, yet they finance most of our wars because it allows them access to our natural resources etc. saying two different things at the same time -doublespeak,

      1. @ nicolebassey maybe if you had joined that part with the preceeding line….would hv made more impact really.
        I do like d theme though….themes on African renaissance do that to me always.
        Thank you, for making me love poetry all over again!

        1. Sunshine (@nicolebassey)

          Am blushing brown! Thank you too!!!

  3. We are not Black , of blacklist, black sheep or blackmail.

    Nice one. Keep writing

    1. Sunshine (@nicolebassey)

      Thank you Ayodeji Lancaster, i am glad you liked it.

    2. @lancaster…abi oooo.I am not black of all d terrible tins…i am black of all d warm tins u can think of…lolllllll,am nt even dark skinned,lollllll.Lovely poem@nicolebassey

  4. Speak for yourself O°˚˚˚!
    What is wrong with black?

    1. Sunshine (@nicolebassey)

      Well, I am speaking for myself. Nothing is wrong with black, in fact black is beautiful! However that wont make me say i am what i am not. Medically speaking, our skin is coloured by the melanin a brown pigment that every human race has except albinos. The idea of some being white and others black seems divisive and stereotypical. i hoped to capture that, maybe i need to work harder. :-)

      1. U av worked hard enuf…no kiii urself!

  5. Nice poetry and message, but I have a question. Are we all really brown? The truth is that black is a political and not a literal color for people not of the Caucasian race.

    1. Sunshine (@nicolebassey)

      Thank you for reading ma, Arent we brown? I did nt say all though, but i have grappled with this issue since i was a child. I have never seen a black man and never seen a white man. It is political yes, and its intent is not to empower us Africans but to make us feel inferior. How come all the things tagged black in the English dictionary are the undesirables? Black sheep, blackmail black list ? Thanks for highlighting the political angle, and for dropping by :-) .

  6. We are not Black , of blacklist, black sheep or blackmail.

    We are black not by colour of our skin just like white are like white by their skin colour.

    1. Sunshine (@nicolebassey)

      Abi O! There is a saying in my part of the country where certain tribes claim to be ‘Oyibo’ so perhaps it isnt the skin colour but the colur of our thoughts ( brains) and intentions ( hearts). God bless you jare. thanks foe dropping a comment :-)

  7. Black is Gorgeous!

    Who you are determines what you do and what you don’t. I am B.L.A.C.K,
    so ‘am beautiful and lovable, ‘am adorable, charming, and above all ‘am kingly!

    The beginning of tomorrow starts today.

    Ositadimma Amakeze

    1. Sunshine (@nicolebassey)

      I wish the blacklists and black sheep
      Blackmail and black markets were beautiful loving adorable charming kingly. I really do. I am who I am by the grace of God not by another person’s political perceptions or homonyms. If we agree that the brown is black fine, though it would be more permissible if we could be called black haired :-) . Just saying, thank you for reading and commenting.

  8. I really like the way this was crafted. There were quite a number of punch lines. However, echoing what some have said, I think there is a problem with the premise. It is true that we are not really black in skin colour, but just as @Myne seems to suggest, the word BLACK has metamorphosed from its negative connotations to something of pride and identity. While coming from this angle is good, it would be more meaningful if the poem is written with this fact in mind.

    Nice one.

    1. Sunshine (@nicolebassey)

      Hehe, I have read all about the pride of being black and how beautiful that is , but i cant identify with it. To me it is like some one kidnapping a princess and teaching her to be a maid; Then she loves it so much she doesnt even remeber what being royalty was like. Celebrating Black is fine, And in the political world yes, it might be the only option. Here however i can tell myself how i feel and somehow be emancipated if only in my thoughts. :-) Thanks for the observations.

  9. What I liked:

    Lines like

    A million beautiful shades of same

    Great use of oxymoron here – ‘million’ and ‘same’.


    We are the beautiful brown of

    Toast bread, corn cakes,

    Brown sugar


    and dark chocolate

    This evoked all kinds of warm, comforting images, especially because as I type this, I’m very hungry!

    I won’t say that I hated anything about the poem – it was very well written. However, I don’t really think that the decision to use the word ‘black’ (with whatever perceived connotations it my have) to brand negroid people is politically calculated. It could be that the first people in Africa that Europeans came across were very dark, and they got the ‘black’ label. Then when Europeans explored further, they saw other people who were not so dark, but they were similar enough in appearance that they also got the same label.

    Anyway, I’m not fussed about the use of the work ‘black’; to be honest, I think of myself as more of Nigerian than ‘black’.

    1. Sunshine (@nicolebassey)

      Am glad you like it . And as usual your thorough and professional critique is worth millions . please accept a token of 50 points.

      1. Thanks, @nicolebassey – it’s nice to have my criticism appreciated.

        I’ll send an acknowledgement when I receive the points.

        1. Hehehehehehehe
          @sunshine, I like that.

          I like your poem too. Funny the Whites aren’t even white. They’re…I don’t even know what to call their colour. If you don’t like the name ‘Black’, please feel free to use any other description.

          Well done.

  10. Jo (@josephoguche)

    I salute you for this … ! Keep it going .. on and on …

    1. Joseph Oguche , Thank you sir, I will by his grace . Hope you ll keep reading at that pace :-)

  11. I like the flow of this poem. “Black” no longer has such a negative connotation, but on a personal level, I like the message – yes, I am not what you assume I am, I am good, I am great. And with all the chocolate and toast bread imagery, the poem feels…yummy. Also made me remember the song “Brown Skin” by India Arie.

  12. Black lack ack ck k. We are pure black. Well, nice message. Good writeup.

  13. I really don’t care; honest. Makes no difference to me.

    I am human. I am African. I don’t think of myself as ‘Nigerian’ because that state is a creation of the white man.

    I am; however, Yoruba.

    Well done.

  14. We are brown. Labels suck…but like Seun said, if you have to label, then Human is pretty good enough label for me. I really liked the poem, nice message! Really though black is just a label, just as white is not really white you know? But that’s another story.

    One thing though that would make this poem stronger is this enjambment technique I learned. It’s all I could think of while I was reading your poem.

    Make use of it as such: Let everywhere that has “we are not” in the poem be on a single line, and everything else in the line below it, for example, this section:

    “…We are not
    colourless, evil,
    Wicked or bedeviled
    Timeless, wholesome
    Rich and fertile
    We are
    not what you say we are
    We are

    That reads different, you’ll agree! You can go ahead and just have fun with the arrangements of the words, it awesome!

  15. Please tell those white guys oh…we re brown jor (but I ve seen some really black boys oh…heheheheh)

    Nice work!

  16. am black and proud-lol, nice poem cheers

  17. As for me, I like this poem and I understand the angle you are coming from. Really lovely piece but I would have preffered if you had likened our brown to more native things like cocoa, date palm, roasted ukwa.. Rather than cornflakes n brown sugar. That’s for oyinbo people.

    Welldone all the same.

    1. lol….indeed you av a strong point@gooseberry

  18. @nicolebassey, I really like your poem.It reminds me of “The colors of us” which is a book I read to each of my kids when they were little about a little girl who wants to paint a picture of herself using brown paint thinking that there is only one kind of brown.Her mother takes her around the neighborhood and shows her that brown comes in a lot of different shades and she compares each shade to caramel,honey, etc. What you said also reminded me that none of my kids when they were little could understand the word black the way it is used and would always use brown instead.My last little one (5) is still going through this.I correct him but I never found a logical way to explain this. :-)

    1. am not disapointed @jefsaraurmax u re versed like dt.
      It also makes me remember a movie by spike lee, starring Tupac i think….where a student got expelled for painting Jesus as black (his own intepretation of homework given by the teacher for students to paint Jesus the way they saw him).
      If we really want to dissect the etymology of d word BLACK in relation to its usage for Africans, we won’t get to d end of it.

  19. I am not my hair; I am not this skin…I am ME!

    Nice Poem!

  20. Different interpretations…to each his own.

    I don’t think it matters what people call the colour of our skin. I think what matters is what we call it. The fact is we allow the ‘outside’ world to capture our existence in just one word; ‘Black’ and we’re not capturing our own existence in our own words.

    Well done @sunshine

  21. Nice poem… I see it in a different light than the colour.
    When I read “we are not black,” I see we are not “thieves, fools, illiterates, dirt or shit” as some of “them” view us.
    We are a lot more than that.
    Funny though, I’ve seen some black- black!- guys…lol.

    1. Yes O! We are beautiful, and we are brown!


    1. Sunshine (@nicolebassey)

      Yes O! God looks at the heart, leave men and their obsessions with outward appearance. :-)

  23. Sunshine (@nicolebassey)

    i have sent @TolaO 50 NS points. Sir kindly acknowledge receipt.

  24. Got the points, @nicolebassey. Thanks a lot!

    1. You are welcome @TolaO . Thank you for your patience.

    1. Thank you! I am glad you like it. Was written for your pleasure :-) @layrite

  25. @nicolebassey intriguing lines……………..

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