Dear John (Green),
You wrote an entire essay online about how groundbreaking it is
for a teenage girl
to kiss a teenage boy in a tragic movie about being white and pretty and dying.
Meanwhile, the only times I see girls like me
getting kissed on screen is when they’re being felt up by some old man in a tragic movie about being
colored and poor and abused.
Brown teenage girls do not get love stories like the movies,
even though we are taught straight from the womb that
we are no more than curves and wild fight that still shines in our eyes after the white boy kisses us in secret,
after the white boy does not want to be seen with us in front of his friends.
Because we’ll always bring drama and bitterness,
with our loud voices
until we are finally broken
on the night something is slipped into our drinks,
or we’re evicted from our house,
or we lose the basketball game,
or a family member climbs on top of us,
and wraps the silver screen around our bodies like butcher’s paper
for the meat
that we have been portrayed as
No, we do not get Shakespeare quoted to us,
instead we become the bitter narrative,
the comfort to the suburban parent,
thank goodness their little girl is the one with the “nice young man,”
and not the one getting her teeth knocked out by the “thug”,
and why does Hollywood only
find colored girls palatable when they are hardened by the world,
to the point where we see them as grown women?
You want groundbreaking story telling?
Write about a girl with brown skin
who is so filled with joy,
each one of her breaths is like tasting cinnamon,
and she lightens even the darkest moments.
Write about a hijabi girl,
who is so empowered,
that she can convince a generation of young women of every shade
that we don’t need to kiss a boy first
to feel in charge of ourselves.
Write about a Latina girl,
who is so in love with life that she tiptoes on the heads of her problems.
Portray colored girls as soft,
as teenage girls in love,
because we deserve a narrative as sweet
and as powerful
as we are.
— Dear John Green, or, How Hollywood Told My Me I Would Never Find Love Like the Movies