I have decided that, after thirty-seven
years of writing (since I was six years old)
and fourteen years of being
a professional writer, I would finally
say something that’s been
on my mind for a really,
really long time:
I don’t write about “race.”
I don’t consider myself–nor should you–
a “race” poet
or fiction writer
or non-fiction writer.
Over the years, I’ve lied
and said I wrote about “race”
because if you are Black
and more than two Black people
(with names) gather together
–as in the slave riot rule–
in your work, (most)
White writers or critics will decide
for themselves that you
are writing about “race.”
And if you say, “No, I’m not doing that,”
you will be called “unrealistic”
or a “troublemaker” or both.
And now let me say that “you”
is “me” and I’ve got to make a living,
especially during Black History Month.
So I just don’t object to being
a “race writer.”
“Race” is a concept going back 300 years.
I am not a concept.
I am obviously (I hope) a human being.
I ate breakfast this morning:
one piece of buttered toast,
a half cup of blueberries,
and a large half-decaf soy latte.
When White folks write
about their families and their communities
and their minds and their bodies,
they also write about their lives,
which for some reason are far more
compelling to White writers and critics
than other (Non-White) people’s lives.
(Why is that?)
Nobody ever says that is “race” writing.
Nor should they.
White folks are obviously (I hope)
human beings, too.
I’m not asking
that we now call White folks
writing about other White folks
I’m simply asking–okay, sort of demanding—
that it be acknowledged that I am not
writing about “race,” either.
What I occupy is the state of being a person
in my own unique body
which is a fine caramel brown
in the wintertime
and a fine mahogany brown
in the summer.
And what I do is write
about my family
and my community
and my mind
and my woman’s body.
And there just happen–well, they didn’t
just happen–to have been some
jacked up political policies and/or
violent physical actions
and my woman’s body.
That’s not about “race” to me.
That’s about my [insert expletive adjective]
Now that I finally said all that,
I feel so relieved,
even though I probably
won’t be getting
Thanks for listening.