An Open Letter to Brown Boys and Girls By Zainab Aziz

An Open Letter to Brown Boys and Girls

who tells you you are not as beautiful
as the girl with the velvet lips and the milky skin?
who tells you that you are not as beautiful?
as the boy with the blue eyes and sun-kissed hair?

who tells you that your ribcage
is not brimming with constellations
waiting to rise up through your mouth
and decorate the world?

who tells you that you are not an explosion
a shot in the night sky that illuminates everything;
your town
your city
your country
and you.

you are born from the strongest of people.
the sun envies your power
as it beats down upon us to no avail.
the moon envies your wisdom
as it hides from us between the clouds.

with each rise of your tongue
you create inexplicable beauty
that is sure to reverberate off glory and purpose.
do not underestimate the rich meaning
and unrepeatable syllables of your mother tongue
of what you can create.

your dark skin is eternal
and the rich colour will stain the world
with you and the bare soles of your feet.
with you and the smudged tips of your fingers.
with you and the time of your heartbeat.
you are eternal.

whether the streets of Bangladesh is the name of your home
of the unwinding cobble roads that are longer than your legs could take you
passing by marketplaces and tiny houses and children running amok
or the city scenery of Toronto
of the skyscrapers that pierce the sky like it pierces with you
that hide graffitied walls and cardboard boxes and blocks of people
you are no less beautiful
and no less brown
than you thought you once were.

my dear, they have
stolen our bindis
our mendhis
our salwar kameez
and our saris
please do not let them steal you.

By Zainab Aziz


Zainab Aziz is an amateur in just about everything she attempts, which is included but not limited to photography, poetry, piano, and alliterations. She has little idea how to write anything professional, or even talk about herself in third person. Raised in the Greater Toronto Area, Zainab carries her Canadian nationality with almost as much pride as she does her South Asian heritage. Her poetry and her favourite poetry by others can be found at and she can be reached at

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