Black Girl in the Mirror – Poetry Winner, Special Revolution! Issue

by Antoinette Allen, Ph.D.

Black Girl in the Mirror
by Antoinette Allen, Ph.D.

I see a leading lady
Standing in the mirror
Repeating the mantra
I am polished
I am practical
I am professional and lyrically original

The image is fraudulent
my strength
And environmental Rigor
My daughter pierces my soul
“Ma, I do my Black girl in the mirror and my White girl at school.”

Reality, and
Cognitive Dissonance
Launch me into a mental spiral
Giving rise to
W.E.B. Du Bois’ theory of
Double Consciousness
Awkward silence

I consider
My options of emotional expression
Do I laugh
Or cry
At the invention of her
Imaginary white-self
It’s almost comical

I laugh to hide our shared shame
Except her reality is neither
Nor hilarious
It is heartbreaking
Rage transforms me into
The Incredible Hulk
But you will never see him

I too am trained to keep
the Black girl in the mirror
encouraged to parade a White girl in the world
Frustration lodged inside my soul
Manifesting displays of humor
Comforting others, while confusing me
I look in the mirror with the next generation’s eyes
I welcome your
Insight, and

I embrace your
Cultural Authenticity
Awaken from the
shadowy slumber
You have been placed in
I will not replace you with an imaginary self
or an imaginary friend
Who has no respect
I gaze into the mirror
With a smile
And my daughter at my side

We repeat:
We are polished
We are practical
We are professional and lyrically

And I solemnly declare:
Black girl in the mirror,
You are released to travel with me.

Antoinette Allen, Ph.D. is a writer, poet, lyrical dancer/storyteller, and speaker. She is a retired Air Force officer and currently serves as the Chief Storyteller and CEO of Two Cups of TLC, LLC.

Known for her work as a leadership educator, certified life coach, and executive advisor, Antoinette is an award-winning equity, diversity, and inclusion influencer. Determined to increase the presence of black women’s lived experience, Allen is passionate about gathering and telling stories, while using arts-based education methodologies that include art, dance, music, and poetry. Dr. Allen is the author of the book Bras, Bootstraps, and the Bible: Stories of Resilience which provides practical ways to overcome racial adversity.

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