Personal testimonies

Black and White Notes – A Poem About Interracial Friendships

“If you want to play beautiful music, you must play the black and white notes together.”

Richard Nixon

This quote from Richard Nixon inspired me to write a poem about my three closest friends, who happen to be Caucasian.

Black and White Notes

By Madeline Kalu

The first hesitant notes of a new composition,

Fingers running over scales, wrists relaxing,

Our individual melodies harmonize with each other,

Humoresque comments synchronized by chords of mirth and laughter,

Royal excitement of sharing adventures in a foreign land.

A song is created, a rhythm is established,

Tapas evenings and girly chats,

You perform your Friday dance with allegro,

A weekend salute with a Bombay orignal.

We attend the Queen Bee’s court and deeply dig the groove,

And spend lazy summer evenings enjoying HαΊ‘ Long Bay.

I share makeup tricks with you in Antwerp,

We honor the fallen soldiers at the Menin Gate,

You teach me new songs in Brussels, Berlin, Liverpool, and Dover.

As l waltz barefoot on moonlit cobbled stones across the Grand-Place,

You hold my shoes,

And compose melodies that make me laugh and inspire me to create.

We bear the brunt of life’s elegies together:

The pain of losing loved ones to cancer,

The fear of missing out on life’s opportunities,

The fight to be free of our demons,

The yearning of what it would be like to be happy.

You make up the major chords and l the minor ones,

You are the white notes – l am the black,

Together, we create a symphony that has been playing for many years.

Our arrangement does not see skin color,

It does not judge or remember past mistakes.

Instead, our music is an expression of our respect and acceptance,

We live our friendship with rubato – with freedom.

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