Monthly Awareness

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Menstrual Muse: Chirlane

Link to online poem HERE (kintespace.com)

McCray cites […] early experience with racism and bullying as part of the reason she began to write, using her poetry as an outlet for her anger. She also wrote a column for her school newspaper, in which she denounced classmates for their racism.

McCray enrolled at Wellesley College in 1972. While studying at Wellesley, McCray became a member of the Combahee River Collective, a black feminist lesbian organization, which inspired her to write prose and poetry.

(source: AAE Speakers)

 

McCray has inspired me to responsively adjust one of her best-known poems:

 

I used to write

I used to write
I can’t be a poet
because a poem is about race-grievances
and identity-mongering,
speaking with a country drawl
unveiling a cracker-ass flag
or letting the words pound like metal
into the brains of brothers
who will never understand
and vote for Trump.
But, I’ve spent my life as a white boy
a part oriental, straight-haired,
thin-lipped,
small-boned White boy
and the poem will surely come out right
like me.

And, I don’t want everyone misinterpreting.

If I could be a gun-owning patriot
with concealed carry,
someone’s Ken doll and Clint Eastwood,
I’d be poetry in motion
without shooting a round
and wouldn’t have to make sense if I did.
If I were militant, I could be peaceful and mad
instead of an evil, pouting confederate general
a cracker, passed over
crumbled and passed over,
a cracker
crumbled in the bushes.

My father tells me
I used to run home crying
that I wanted to be black like my sisters.
She shook her head and told me
there was nothing wrong with my skin-lightener.
She didn’t tell me I was racist
(so my face wouldn’t swell up).

White boys cannot afford to
have delusions of Afrocentrism,
not drumming, singing off-key,
dry and rigid White boys.

And even though in Amerikkka
I was mistaken for someone’s professor or landlord
or policeman down south,
even though I swore
never again to walk with my hair straight,
proud,
ever to care
that those people who denigrate
the popular brand of diversity
don’t feel me,
it still shatters.

Looking through a window, it shatters.
Standing next to my lover
when someone dark gets that
“he ain’t no NBA star” expression
it shatters.

But it’s not so sad now.
I can cry about it,
Shoot hoops and write poems
about all those lay-ups,
my age and shading.
I’m through waiting for hope and change,
the 80’s didn’t throw me a bone
and as many years as I’ve been
White like Ivory
White like the clouds
I have seen in the water
and the sights of my brothers
that ugly is the man in light
who withers with hating.

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