a misdiagnosis.

poetry

This poem was inspired by an African-identified blogger, Zipporah Gene, who wrote an article about Black Americans’ appropriation of African culture.

Well, I had feelings about it:

I don’t

generally support absolutes but
I

   am absolutely black.
I am
a
hodge-podge of black.
A mélange of black

And I don’t need anyone telling me about headwraps and daishikis
Telling me that that’s not me because I wasn’t physically,
geographically birthed on the continent of Africa

Really?
Is that what we’re gonna do right now?

Hip-hop,
Slang
Done
slung me into the continent

Cornrows,
Scarfs we use to wrap up our heads at night
Done wrapped me into the continent

My continent draped round me is natural
Even though they told us not to be
Continent.

Even though they told us not to be

We are

And the fact
That you can’t see that
Speaks to the job they done.

Western lenses yes I wear them
Can’t help that.
That don’t mean, though, there’s not
a crack
In the lens

And
Damned if I’m not grateful for that crack in the lens

Now, I’m not for trends
And wash-and-wear Continent
Or uncritical unacknowledged privilege Continent

But what I’m telling you
Is that we are
Always looking for home.

At school where they tell us we don’t exist
At work where they tell us to be a black cog in just the right way
In the street where they kill us and then tell everyone
We weren’t ever alive

We are always looking for home
And
If some of us

Finally.
Recognize

   If we have access to an opening
That allows us the ability to see

The home in our bones
I’m celebrating that.

But celebrations can be put on critically.

What I suggest to you,
You
Non-believer

You presupposition

What I suggest
Is that you

Connect the continent to the other bodies of land–
relax!
Not denying tensions or serious divergences in the masses of black land

But there are several veins:
The merengue and plantains and platted hair and oral primacy
and chopped up talk

That I am refusing to ignore.

You will not
dispossess us of veins and canals that lead us
to one another.

They want to tell us there are no canals,
No veins.

Don’t
Swallow that uncritically.

That is a project that kills us.
Work on the project of
Canal-digging.

(2015)

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