Small Protest for the Day

Posted on Posted in Common Damned Sense

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
“race” writing.
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
perpetrated against
my family,
my community,
my mind,
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
paid anymore
during February.
Thanks for listening.



3 thoughts on “Small Protest for the Day

  1. Honoree – Sometime I am afraid to comment, but I know that most of us do things the same way, we put our pants on one leg at a time. You had a healthy breakfast, I had a very delicious bran muffin and coffee, I promise non-fat Greek (Fage) yogurt for lunch. I still read books for the story, fiction or non-fiction. It is the story that captures me, sometimes just the first page, sometimes the shape of the print, the feel of the paper and yes sometimes the cover, although the cover does not always tell me what is in the book. If I am going to be honest here, it is mysteries, historical fiction and the hopes of learning something new that keep me glued to books. You even have me reading some poetry!

  2. Thanks for this Honoree. I’m a white gay guy. But I’m not a “white gay guy” writer. I write about life, at times from the perspective of a white gay man, yes, but also at times from the perspective of a racist white woman living on St. Charles Ave., or the slave I think I may have been in a former life, the one who’d had enough. I write about life, love, fear, joy, hunger, rage, hope, desolation, joy–all that which drives both the racist white woman and the slave who’d had enough. I’m a human being with so much to learn who writes to unite, not divide, and who just so happens to be white, male, gay. I’m a soul no different than any other, sometimes lost, sometimes found, always searching, until the day I go Home.

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