This year I performed my first poem and it was liberating. Not only because it was my first time but because I was with amazing people. I participated in a project produced and directed by Marcella Adams called Disclosure where students of color at the college expressed their feelings of loneliness, self doubt, stereo types, expectations and fairness as it pertains to White supremacy.
It was liberating to finally share my story and how I felt on a predominately white campus and it was exhilarating to perform a poem for the first time with my two best friends on the stage. Lets put you in the setting.
You walk into a dark black room with dim lights. The black seats are designed in a circle with the chairs facing the inside of the room. There are stands in between the seats one for each side of the compass (north, south, east, and west). The performers are sitting within the audience. The show starts off with each performer saying a line from our poem that represents the most important messages of their stories. Mine was “My brown hands became a color I no longer recognize as my own.” By this time the room has filled with discomfort and eyes are wider than ever, ready to listen. The walls seem to be caving in at the echoes of the stories as you hear about lack of opportunities for those who didn’t make it to college, lack of fairness, achievement gap, lack of respect, and neglecting of Black love. By now, you feel overwhelmed while your shoulders cary each tear you have seen the performer cry. You look to the side of you and you see an audience member crying anf acknowledge that in this moment it is okay to smile, laugh, and tear up as the performer does. In the south part of the room you hear a voice interrupting the claps for the last poem that passed and you listen. And she speaks. And you watch as she fights through her tears and hopes that the light is dim enough so that no one sees the redness on her face or her knees shaking. And she begins.
You know what's the difference between a scar and a paper cut.
A scar leaves a mark behind, and it reminds us of an experience we had.
somewhere people can point to and ask what's that,
to hear the story that comes with that imperfection.
But that doesn't mean we wont do it again
because we enjoyed the danger feeling.
Because your brown hands could ruin the prettiest and most precious thing on earth
The brownness of your fingertips stain the purest white
its so inorganic that the stain is permanent
Unable to be forgotten by those who have been near it
Your touch everlasting
So promise me you will keep your hands to yourself
No Toces No toces No toces
I told you to stay away
You weren’t suppose to do that
The world is not meant for you to touch it, the world is meant to touch you in ways where rape sounds and feels like consensual sex
As if everything you have and everything you are is not enough to be heard or respected (all together)
As if you asked for it
A paper cut is different. It stings to the core because you never expected the paper you touch everyday to hurt you. It’s a result of a normal thing.While washing your hands you forget that it’s there only to remember when the water seeps through the open holes of the bandage you tried so hard to cover it up with.
Your brown hands should not touch anything but it should take in everything that touches you
Because that’s the best you will ever get
My brown hands settled
In a world that identified my fingertips as chains
Compressed together as if the world was a sacred place
And I will never be heavenly
I walk with grace while the heaviness of ancestry tries to tie me to the floor
I am Suffocated by the very things I thought of as precious
Yet you force me to participate
it’s 20% percent of your grade (two people sounding like a professor)
As if that’s supposed to mean anything
“I would like to hear your voice in your paper” (two people sounding like a professor)
I get my voice back, It’s a C
As in good enough to pass but not good enough to stand on my own
The note in red said I am available Mondays and wednesday
1:30 to 3:00
I am here
You say, I know you can do better
But what I understand is
I know you are teachable
You took my softness as an antonym for strength
You eliminate my brown hands and make them write white so I can pass your class
I’m sorry I meant educated
My brown hands became a color I no longer recognize as my own
Don’t touch it don’t touch it don’t touch it
Paper cuts happen when you try to do routines too quickly. Only to continue your routine again and no one will ever really notice because paper cuts are never as serious as scars, but who made up that rule anyway.
I am here, 1:30 to 3
Poet: Jamerly De La Cruz