So you think I’m a mule?

“Where do you come from?”

‘I’m from Glasgow.’


‘Uh huh. Glasgow.’

The whiteface hesitates,

the eyebrows raise,

the mouth opens

then snaps shut


yet too polite to say, outright,


she tries another manoeuvre

“And your parents?”


Not again.

It’s such a bore.

‘Glasgow and Fife.’


‘Yes. Oh.’

Snookered, she wonders where she should go

from here

“Ah, but you’re not pure.”

‘Pure? Pure what?

Pure white? Ugh. What a plight.

Pure? Sure I’m pure,

I’m rare…’

“Well, that’s not exactly what I mean,

I mean… you’re a mulatto, just look at…”

‘Listen. My original father was Nigerian

to help you with your confusion.

But hold on, right there.

If you Dare mutter mulatto,

hover around hybrid,

hobble on half-caste,

and intellectualize on the

‘mixed race problem’,

I have to tell you:

take your beady eyes offa my skin;

don’t concern yourself with

the dialectics of mixtures;

don’t pull that strange blood crap

on me, Great White Mother.

Say I’m no mating of a she-ass and a stallion,

no half of this and half of that,

to put it plainly, purely

I’m black.

My blood flows evenly, powerfully

and when they shout ‘Nigger’

And you shout ‘Shame’

ain’t nobody debating my blackness.

You see that fine African nose of mine,

my lips, my hair. You see, lady,

I’m not mixed up about it.

So take your questions, your interest,

Your patronage. Run along.

Just leave me.

I’m going to my Black sisters,

to women who nourish each other

on belonging…

There’s a lot of us black women struggling to define

just who we are,

where we belong

and if we know no home

we know one thing:

we are Black;

we’re at home with that.’

“Well, that’s all very well, but…”

No but. Goodbye.’


Jackie Kay (1985)