The Question Every Black Women in College Asks Herself While Writing Papers:

To Be Small in this Space, or
Do I Write What I Want
with the Access I Have Here
While You Project
Your Racism and Sexism
onto Me for It?

whysociety made it clear
i have to be here.
i fear the social backlash
the repercussions
punishment

i want to survive
i’d like to thrive

so i’ll stay. . .
so i’ll conform
But cheerfully?
ok.

Let me try.

Let me try to smile as I write these papers.
u said I can pick the thesis.
u even gave me access to
ur big, thick
databases
that cover so much
and go so deep

so

Let me write truth wrapped in research
drizzle ur scholarly jargon onto my experience
tell u about my life in oxford english

booksletters black on dead white

since that is all u

could ever understand

while i see shades and hues of every color

did u ever read The Giver?

i have the annotationshello
in all ur microaggressions,

piece of shit.

can I say that if I’m smiling?
if I’m…… cheerful?

if i turn the unfairness into a thesis
speak my oppression with pretentiousness
Contaminate my narrative with ur criteria
for it’s validation
Let u
Grade it.

oh is that a problem? but I’m smiling…
oh is that a problem? but I’m cheerful…stugg
oh it’s not about being cheerful…
oh it’s about being

quiet.

it’s about being

empty.

it’s about being…. small.
and thankful to just be here.
to just exist.

that u’ve let me. . . . . hi

do u know how difficult it is to be here?
do u see the choice u give me?

u force me to ask myself

To Be Small in this Space, or
Do I Write What I Want
with the Access I Have Here
While You Project
Your Racism and Sexism
onto Me for It?

To be small in this space, or to burn down this place?
with ur resources.
with ur language.
all cited and double spaced

for ya bitchass.

To mute myself for ur comfort
so u don’t mark my words with red pen
remind me that u are GOD
and I am Black
as though u’ve never looked up
at the Heavens . . . .

Have you ever,

Professor?

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