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Why America is anything but post-racial. - Piano wire. [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
The richest girl in town.

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Why America is anything but post-racial. [Sunday, Mar. 14th, 2010|11:52 pm]
The richest girl in town.
Okay, so.

Tonight, I went to the The City Slam and Experimental Mic at Mama Calizo's Voice Factory in San Francisco, and I am so happy I went for so many reasons--the room was filled with beautiful people, my love read a poem I adore, and there were great features, including Sonya-Renee Taylor, whom I've only seen and met once before. The final poem in her set tonight was one that she posted a draft of on Facebook at the very end of November.

A Poem For The Girl Who Solicited Money To Fly To the National Poetry Slam Because "I am only 20 and a white girl and I...."

A man with fecal matter in his tight fist-ed naps
speaks in Pentecostal tongues and expletives.
Proclaims through the acrid stench of 3 day human sweat,
the kind one can only acquire on a cross country greyhound ride,
that he is going to hold this bus hostage.
Stands in front of the door like a Buckingham palace guard and states
in the only coherent syntax he has offered in the last 40 minutes,”
Ain't A MUTHAFUCKA GETTIN OF THIS GOD DAMNED BUS!”
The first thing I thought was, “Thank God I am not a white girl.
This would be soooooo scary for her!”

Let me say love, I am sure you didn't mean it.
You know, “that way”
The way that reminds us crackly
black breeder girls
that we ain't ever really known danger nor discomfort.
Or.
Perhaps we know it just well enough.
The way you know the taste of a rapist spit in your mouth
so translucently familiar that
it doesn't really make you heave anymore when you swallow.
So swallow.

Certain it was an of 18th century slip of tongue .
Cellular memory that made you believe somehow your
precious pallid safety is of such global concern
that our wallets might gladly lay themselves prostrate
at the foot of your pretty toes
than sooner see them sludge through the swamp
of junkies, jailbirds and shitty ass diapers, right?
Greyhound is for... poor people,
old people,
brown people... lesser people.

Not prized little white girls.

After all, America's flag is woven with the fabric of your
frilly pearly panties and we will not have them soiled
so of course you should not ride the greyhound
beside my grandmother, an E.R nurse for 25 years
on her way to visit her first born grandson.
She might tell you has broken matchstick legs but
she's been praying God will make them straight as his word.
She might tell you her son just joined the Navy.
That the thought of war makes her stomach knot
like the rubber bands her brother ties around his arms
since he got back from that Vietnam.”
She might just offer you some chicken she fried up for the trip
and we wouldn't want to unsettle your delicate alabaster belly .

God forbid you have to hear about Liza.
About her 6 month sentence
for writing that 100 dollar bad check for groceries.
She might tell you that she can't find her youngest
since foster care took him.
Juan might show you a picture of his daughter. He is saving for her
Quinceanera, you know.
A migrant worker might tell you he travels on Mondays
but manages to make that 22 hour bus ride home
in time for Saturday huevos rancheros with his wife and three children.

Oh sweet baby jesus, someone might ask you to listen
to something other than a poem;
Than yourself.
No sweet young white woman should have to endure that.

Your safety is an American Institution.
A castle built on the backs of greyhound riding brown and black
folks who carry the bricks back and forth across U.S interstates
so you never have to break a sweat, a nail.
Never have to worry if looking like every other black male
will mistakenly land you in prison. If forgetting your papers will land you
in an illegal alien detention center. If today you will be a maid or a whore
or a poor welfare mother cause those are the only people
who should ever ride the bus.

So yes love,
There are a million open wallets waiting
to usher you away from the blight of poverty.
Away from what those not pale or privileged enough for
pricey plane tickets or public pandering
already know and trust.
You, my dear, will get wherever it is you need to go
in comfort and in safety, because you have always
been more than willing to leave the danger and the driving
to us.

After her set, after another feature, after a break, and into the remainder of the first round of the slam, a woman named Imani came up and began reading. It was a great poem, but 15 seconds into it, there was some sort of... kerfuffle happening on the other side of the room, people talking loudly enough that it distracted from the woman who was performing mic-less on stage. Finally, two white women--whom I'd seen outside earlier with a third friend, a black woman, who was leaving--walked out, one of them proclaiming that "she played the race card" as they left.

As it turned out, it wasn't so much Imani's poem, an ode to black men, that had done them in, but Sonya-Renee's. Imani's poem was, I guess, their final straw.

On the way home with J, I said, hundreds of years of slavery and oppression has yet to be my last straw. White people need to shut the fuck up and just be uncomfortable sometimes.
linkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: und1sk0
2010-03-15 08:33 am (UTC)
To be fair to America, prejudice is ubiquitous..
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: fightingwords
2010-03-15 04:29 pm (UTC)
Is this sarcasm?
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: delux_vivens
2010-03-15 09:33 pm (UTC)
i'm betting not.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: i_dreamed_i_was
2010-03-16 04:21 am (UTC)
I was trying to figure out if he was European or something, but...
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: rmjwell
2010-03-15 02:01 pm (UTC)
White people need to shut the fuck up and just be uncomfortable sometimes.

Sounds like a plan to me.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: fightingwords
2010-03-15 06:53 pm (UTC)
I mean, really.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: yeloson
2010-03-15 02:58 pm (UTC)
Play the Race Card" -

Because we all know doing poems about painful shit that makes a portion of the audience uncomfortable is totally rewarding and rewarded?

I wish MFers would think a fucking second bout what they're saying when they say this shit- "Yes, I'm going to make my life a hassle and pull out some painful shit, because that's totally getting me ahead, RACE CARD RACE CARD RACE CARD! Whoo! Lookit me! I'm fucking rich and suddenly I'm on a boat!"

Then they can go tell me how folks aren't RACE CARDING their way out of prison, or the day workers they're hiring are RACE CARDING their asses into job that pays instead of manual labor, or how immigrants don't just RACE CARD their way out of a sweatshop or forced prostitution, or why the Indians don't RACE CARD their WHOLE FUCKING LAND BACK.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: wordweaverlynn
2010-03-15 03:39 pm (UTC)
It's not the race card when white people use it. Just like it's not unfair for colleges to admit children of alumni who don't have the best grades (but do have the best bank accounts) -- although as we all know, affirmative action is unfair. And it's not stealing to get millions in salary and bonuses for yourself and your friends even when you're laying off thousands of people. And it's not even stealing to bankrupt your S&L while taking such huge salaries and have the taxpayers cover the debt. It's especially not stealing if your last name is Bush.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: fightingwords
2010-03-15 06:52 pm (UTC)
As unwoman pointed out below, they played the race-card card last night.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: conditionbronze
2010-03-15 03:20 pm (UTC)
Hey! Stop attacking that poor woman's privilege.

They're losing the country. Haven't you been watching Glenn Beck?
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: fightingwords
2010-03-15 07:01 pm (UTC)
*stab stab stab*
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[User Picture]From: pantryslut
2010-03-15 06:37 pm (UTC)
I'm just going to sit here and blink in stupid awe at both the posted poem and the precipitating event, if that's OK.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: fightingwords
2010-03-15 06:51 pm (UTC)
I think that's a fine response. I myself just kept saying, "REALLY?!" last night. Mona, the slam mistress, tried to talk to them for a while, and I don't really know how that went over, but JAYSUS, the stupid burns. It seems to me that the first person to play a race card was that 20-year-old who thought her whiteness entitled her to a free flight instead of a bus ride with all the common people.
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[User Picture]From: pantryslut
2010-03-15 06:56 pm (UTC)
It's bad for my blood pressure to think about this too long, plus my slapping hand starts to itch. But the poem helps. And damn right little prissy panties was the first to play the race card. Kee-riced.
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[User Picture]From: unwoman
2010-03-15 06:49 pm (UTC)
They played the "race card" card -- at a poetry slam! :D
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[User Picture]From: fightingwords
2010-03-15 06:51 pm (UTC)
It's TOTALLY the race-card card.

I give them a 0.0.
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[User Picture]From: shipbuilding
2010-03-15 07:56 pm (UTC)
I kinda like being made to own my privileges. The feeling of "Oh, this sucks" helps me to remember that I get to feel like it just kinda sucks instead of the actual oppression my unprivileged peers are experiencing. If that makes sense.

In other super important white girl news, I like that poem.
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[User Picture]From: fightingwords
2010-03-16 12:25 am (UTC)
Oh, it makes sense. But, you see, in this post-racial society we're in, white San Franciscans get uncomfortable when someone points out how comfortable they almost always are--particularly in a city with a rapidly declining black population.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: delux_vivens
2010-03-15 08:50 pm (UTC)
can you xpost to snr?
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From: delux_vivens
2010-03-15 09:29 pm (UTC)

also.

White people need to shut the fuck up and just be uncomfortable sometimes.

omg stop silencing people!!111!!!!!
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[User Picture]From: fightingwords
2010-03-16 12:24 am (UTC)

Re: also.

*pulls out duct tape*
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[User Picture]From: tristan_crane
2010-03-20 02:21 am (UTC)

Re: also.

staple gun. Works every time.
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[User Picture]From: cimmerians
2010-03-15 09:38 pm (UTC)
That made my entire, complete, absolute *month*. Thank you!
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[User Picture]From: sparkymonster
2010-03-16 12:19 am (UTC)
That poem is amazing. I wish I could have heard/seen the performance.
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[User Picture]From: fightingwords
2010-03-16 12:24 am (UTC)
She got a standing ovation.
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[User Picture]From: erg
2010-03-16 01:57 am (UTC)
The crazy part about my women's history class, taught by a woman who'll soon head a department:

(1) The number of women who held silent for most of the class, meaning in part, how many men took up most of the air space.
(1) How many it turned out didn't understand what all things meant, because this is Friday night/Saturday class, one for working women. They didn't understand because they're from somewhere else, first generation, ESL, and so the cultural context wasn't at the ready. "Sterilize, I don't understand, do you mean they tried to bleach them?"

We were well past 20 minutes in that conversation, in using the term.
(3) Jesus, you guys, stop raising your hands or just speaking out in the first 22 seconds. Women's history, and the men just can not shut up or share, right out the gate.

(4)People don't *get* it. Sure, the right to vote was there, but Jim Crow laws weren't stopped until the mid 1960's, and that's not cultural change, that's just the national guard.
Redlining, Sub-prime Mortgages. Same thing; just long enough between them to wipe out each new generations new wealth.
Personally? Can we sell Texas back to Mexico? I can't wait until California is more whatever else, than white, and I hope we fine people who don't vote.
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