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The Brown Girl Problem

Updated: Apr 8, 2023

Brown skin, melanin touched

Like dirt and soil and life

The colors of your family

and ancestors forgotten within history;

You called it a curse.

Under societal conditioning

You never realized until now that

It is a tightly wound cord

That connects you to your heritage.

Your people had been taught to hate it

By those who stole from them

And you fell prey to the same pain.

All brown girls know the feeling

Of hating our own skin.

We try to escape from it,

Bleach it and scrub it

Until we are clean and bright

Because that is what we are told it means

To be beautiful.

We must be fair and lovely,

Light and pristine

To be seen as beautiful.

Only time could gently show you that

Your brown skin

Should not make you feel ashamed.

Right now

The only shame that you feel

Is the stinging remorse of spending too long

Trying to peel your own skin off

And attempting to take

the Indian girl out of yourself.


Author's Note: When I was in middle school, I struggled with my cultural identity quite a bit. As an ABCD (American born confused Desi), I felt disconnected from certain aspects of my Indian culture and began to despise my skin in particular. Many of the friends I hung out with at the time cared a lot about how pale they were, and this idea rubbed off on me as I began to feel terrible for my darker skin. Colorism is especially prominent in many Asian cultures and can be unavoidable at times, which was what inspired me to look back on my emotions and write this poem. I hope that all brown girls who struggle with this conflict can also learn to see the beauty of their own skin.


Author's Biography: My name is Nivriti Krishnamurthy and I am an Indian-American high school student from California. I love to draw, write, and play the bass guitar in my free time, and I am happiest when I am spending time with my family and dog!

Instagram: @_neevee

Cover Photo Source: Brown Girl Magazine


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