They always tell you not to judge a book by its cover
But why do they say that?
Let’s say I’m a book
Here’s your opportunity
Take a good look at me
And tell me what you see
What is my cover?
Out of everyone I know, only one is paler than me
I constantly blush because any change in skin tone is easy to see
I come from a loving family, with a father who works and a mom who takes her title as a mother seriously
I grew up comfortable, and I grew up privileged
That kind of white.
I sometimes blurt things out without thinking, and everyone – myself included – is in shock
My interests are so out there that I often have to explain the entire show to tell one joke
That kind of odd.
I never struggled in school, didn’t know how to study until recently
I always raise my hand, to the point where the teacher has to specify, someone besides me
I’m the kid you hate for my smarts
The ruiner of your curve that always has all the answers
That kind of smart.
I always crack jokes, make comments, and try to make you smile
I tear myself down to lend you the pieces that build you up,
But it’s worth it if you only laugh for a while
That kind of funny.
I’m an observer, not a speaker…
When I’m in a group, I let others have the fun
I wait till I have something important to add, and even then sometimes I hold my tongue
That kind of quiet.
So that’s my cover
At face value, would you keep going?
Flip past the outside, and get to know more than what’s showing?
Let’s crack open this book
And take a look
Why am I white?
I’m white because that’s how I was born, the same as my hair or eyes
No matter what color or age, shape or form or size
I am more, and we are more, than our skin and appearance defines us as
I am more than that fat, short, blushing redhead with the glasses who likes to wear black
I am more than a dusty book on a shelf
I am more than white.
Why am I odd?
I’m odd because I’m different.
I am more than odd.
Why am I smart?
I’m smart because that’s how my brain works, and because I care about my education
I put effort into what I learn, I like what I learn, and I retain the information
When I don’t do well on something, there’s no need to remind me or hold it over my head
I do enough of that on my own, thank you very much.
I am more than smart.
Why am I funny?
I’m funny because I’m empty.
I laugh the loudest and try the hardest to help others laugh with me
So I can forget the vacuum of my chest cavity
Until I’ve given everything and all that’s left is this lonely, gaping husk of a person that used to be me
And so I laugh the darkness away, beating it down with every ounce of my energy
but even that can’t last forever
I am more than funny.
Why am I quiet?
I’m quiet because my brain wasn’t built right, so every time I even think of opening my mouth I feel sick
My hands flush and shake, every swallow heavy and thick
Just before I speak I have the realization of how stupid the thing I was about to say really would be
and, relieved, decide to keep that little tidbit to myself, rinse and repeat
The ones that do escape only prove my point.
I am more than quiet.
The relationship between books and their covers is a complex one
It’s impossible not to judge one by the other, and that’s not what I’m asking
Judging is human nature, it’s not something you just can’t do
But the moment
You try to defile another book
With these labels, projections of your own insecurities
You tear people down
With these insults that shouldn’t even be insults
You feed the demons inside their heads
(You know, the same ones you have?)
That proceed to rip and mar their pages
Until nothing is left
To support the cover
And it all crumbles.
So please, judge away
I can’t stop you even if I wanted to
But the next time you decide to stamp slurs on someone
Think about the book behind the cover
And how fragile each page might be
Or how many they have to lose