“No Milk Over Tea” by Zehra Imam
They tell me that if you drink milk your skin turns white.
They tell me that if you drink tea your skin turns black.
I do not know how to convince them that the
pigmentation of my skin has no bearing on the beauty of my soul,
the toughness of my character, or my unabashed laugh.
I have the soul of a warrior
the toughness of a tiger
and merriment inside like a warm home
that is lit up on the outside during holidays
I do not know how to tell them that they are beautiful
but that this distracts.
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Zehra Imam Artist Statement:
My mother told me that, when I was a little girl, I would gather all my stuffed
animals in front of a little blackboard and teach them the alphabet. I have wanted to be a
teacher since I was four-years-old. I grew up with a mother who was a blacklisted
journalist in Pakistan with friends who had been to prison for their reporting. My family
immigrated to the United States due to religious and political unrest in Pakistan. My
passion for education equity was sparked during the time I attended nine demographically
distinct schools between Pakistan and America. Between the ages I was six and sixteen,
we moved eleven times. Most of the cities I have lived and worked in since – Karachi,
Lucknow, St. Louis, Detroit, Madison, Chicago, Brooklyn, the South Bronx, and now
Riyadh – face major struggles, particularly with race relations and segregation.