“But, You Speak So Well.”

Black Women Are Intelligent, You Know.

Nkululeko Mabena|Unsplash

My speech precedes me. I was raised in a home where reading was mandatory. I had to read. I had to learn. I was programmed to not only listen in grade school but pay attention and gain as much knowledge as I could. On top of all of the knowledge gained, I had to study longer, work harder, practice more, and not only be good, but greathad to be more than my peers and I had to do so because I was a girl, I was black, and we lived on the East side of Savannah, Georgia (predominantly black area). I spent time watching orators give long-winded speeches about education, the arts, culture, the need for funding in Downtown Savannah, etc. I had teenagers for parents who struggled to raise me and did not seek higher education but drilled it deep in my bones that I would, in fact, obtain a college degree.

Thus began my grooming for a world that would look upon a young, black girl and not only respect her but allow her to play on its field. Or, this is what was supposed to happen according to my elders. I entered spelling contests and won. I wrote essays, poems, and short stories and was encouraged to test the waters, no matter how deep. I spent the bulk of my summers in Bronx, New York with my mother’s biological mom and her baby sister. Oddly enough, I have this unique blend of accents — not quite Northern, but not all the way Southern, either — a mixture. I have often been told, “You are too proper,”You talk White (seriously, what does this mean?)”, and my favorite, “You speak so well, you enunciate everything.” Oh, really now? Am I not supposed to?

Black women are intelligent too, you know. We read. We study abroad. We not only enroll and are accepted into Ivy League universities, but we graduate as well. We are innovative. We are unique. We can take nothing, turn it into something and allow it to multiply because we have had tons of practice in being resourceful. The fact that I am clear in delivering messages to you when I speak does not make me special or you superior. It simply places me in a category you may not be familiar with and that is reason enough to ask yourself why. How many black women do you know? Do you venture out to be friendly with them? Do you listen, truly listen to what is being said by them when holding a conversation?

We have the words of our ancestors pouring out of us, why would you even think we would not be heard? What makes you think that what we say would not be clear, concise, direct, and appropriate? I do not want to be anyone’s common statistic. How you form your thoughts surrounding who I am and how I operate in life is between you and your current mindset. It does not have anything to do with me. I love to watch the look on the face of others when I open my mouth to speak, especially if there is an important topic to discuss at hand. I am tactful, I am steady in my thinking, and not only am I direct — I know my facts when I have to.

When I speak — I am showing you an entire race and the many cultures that make up who we are. When you hear me, you hear a woman — a black woman giving you her thoughts. If ever we have a debate, slight misunderstanding, or an argument, know that what I will say, you will not forget. “But, you speak so well.”

I do.

And I do many more things “so well” too.


Originally published in Atomic Babes via Medium.

Reparations

A Collaborative Effort With walkerjo lee |Music: Jill Scott-My Petition

rage
Courtesy of Mwangi Gatheca|Unsplash

pay me for the many bodies slain
in cold blood at the hand of their
protectors for simply being alive
for walking down an unfamiliar street
for pulling out a wallet
for covering his child with his body
for revealing a water gun
for breathing air that is free in
a country that charges me for water
in a plastic cup bound to kill
me twenty years from now

for a woman knowing her rights
and unafraid to back down when faced
by fake authority
for gentrification
for replacement of all things familiar
in a neighborhood that needs complacency
to build it up during its struggle

pay me for scheming my ancestors
moons ago with slanderish tongues
bathed in honey
for neverending lies
for belligerence
for bigotry
for disguises in broad daylight
for the Ku Klux Klan

that will burn my community by dawn’s early light.

oh, say can you see?
for i am owed,
much more than can be repaid!

therefore,
i have the right:
to take a knee on any new age plantation field
to reject the bullshit that white supremacy truly is
to dodge PEACEkeepers that have a badge to kill

they serve money and the news/poliTRICKS and corporations have quotas and dues/bait trucks filled with shoes?

my country tis’ of thee —
WE the people, will lose.

i have the right:
to be this color face
zero damns left to give
sacrifice this lie that’s become a goddamn disgrace
still it questions the I in ME?!

i have the right:
to choose an alternate reality
to love and live.

i have the right:
to be this black moon

these copper colored blues
to travel with these autumn colored leaves
decorated in this auburn flesh
skin tones thick with tribe
standing with bronze feet in gold suns

textures of faith armed with all this love
they said, i couldn’t have/i couldn’t be
this speech, touched by godS/moved by ancestors/guided by winds

like, trees/ocean bottoms/creation
i ain’t to be moved

I AM owed!

i have the right:
to not have my skin rigged
a weapon against me!
how can i be victim AND criminal?!

fuck this place as a nation!
i have the right,
to be this color of pride

pay me, nation of forgetfulness
for years of contemplation and misguided ways
for unearthed demons in positions of power
for silencers and AK-47s and Mac10s
and the nerve to say we asked for it
pay me for everything I am due
and increase it tenfold

but, how do you put a price
on a dwindling race in a nation
that wants to annihilate it?


©Tremaine L. Loadholt & Walker Jo Lee, 2018. All Rights Reserved

*No one else could have written this with me. It came to me when it did and I immediately sent the draft to Walker. Originally posted in A Cornered Gurl on Medium.

Thank you for reading.