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Universal Discoveries

3 Pages 818 Words

Patricia Smith’s “What It’s Like to Be a Black Girl (For Those of You Who Aren’t)” is a poem about a young, black girl growing up. This poem describes what it is like for a young girl who is discovering different things going on with her body.
This black girl in the poem is 9 years old and in her pre-puberty stage of life. She feels “like [she’s] not finished” (Smith, 766). She feels out of place because she is in between the stages of being a child and becoming a young adult. She also “[finds] a disturbance at [her] chest” (766). At the age of 9, I was in the 4th grade. All of my friends were beginning to wear training bras and I was still without enough breasts to fill one. I did not understand that everyone’s body changes differently until then. I felt like I did not belong. She “[drops] food coloring in [her] eyes to make them blue and … [pops] a bleached white mophead over the kinks of [her] hair” because she wants to have that all-American look of blond hair and blue eyes (766). My cousins and I would pretend we had long hair by putting my daddy’s long T-shirts on our heads and letting them hang down our backs. We would pretend we were the cast of “Saved by the Bell” because of the long pretty hair all the girls had. We would “[primp] in front of mirrors that [denied our reflections]” the same way she would (766). What we would see in the mirror and what we were pretending to be were two completely different things. We were definitely trying to be something we were not, as was the girl in the poem.
As she gets older and develops more, young men start to notice her and she does “not [know] what to do with the whistles” (767). As my cousins and I grew older, we were the same way. We would walk to the park and young men would be playing basketball there. They would notice us and try to strike up conversations. We would blush and grin from ear to ear. We never “[jump...

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