From French Teacher Madame Harper: At assembly last week, the 7th graders shared a French poem written by Leopold Senghor, a Sénégalese poet and the 1st African president of the Republic of Sénégal (1960-1980). Earlier this fall, the class studied French-speaking countries in Africa and, along with their projects, we learned this poem titled Cher frère blanc (Dear White Brother).
Leopold Senghor asks a very important question in his poem: who is really the man of color? He muses about why white people call black people "colored," when there is a huge range of observable colors on white people's skin. With a touch of humor, the author successfully delivers his message and still touches the hearts of people many years later. His goal was to undermine prejudice and draw attention to our common humanity.
Dear White Brother (English translation)
When I was born, I was black,
When I grew up, I was black,
When I am in the sun, I am black,
When I am sick, I am black,
When I die, I will be black.
While you, white man,
When you were born, you were pink,
When you grew up, you were white,
When you go in the sun, you are red,
When you are cold, you are blue,
When you are scared, you are green,
When you are sick, you are yellow,
When you die, you will be grey.
So, between you and me,
Who is the colored man?
Cher frère blanc
Quand je suis né, j’étais noir,
Quand j’ai grandi, j’étais noir,
Quand je suis au soleil, je suis noir,
Quand je suis malade, je suis noir,
Quand je mourrai, je serai noir.
Tandis que toi, homme blanc,
Quand tu es né, tu étais rose,
Quand tu as grandi, tu étais blanc,
Quand tu vas au soleil, tu es rouge,
Quand tu as froid, tu es bleu,
Quand tu as peur, tu es vert,
Quand tu es malade, tu es jaune,
Quand tu mourras, tu seras gris.
Alors, de nous deux,
Qui est l’homme de couleur ?