Fever Pitch, a poem
Preface: I wrote this poem Fever Pitch back in January and shared it in full with my Patreon supporters only. Why?
Truth is, I was hiding.
I was fearful of the reactions I would get from publishing these words. I know that these words must be read, so I’m now posting it here on Medium. I’m done with hiding, I’m done with silence and being silenced, I’d done with narratives and perceptions of who I am and what I look like, I’m done with playing small and being made to feel small because there are performative allies among us who clutch their pearls at the mere suggestion that their whyte, white, huite, yt skin is not a privilege, who use fragility, entitlement and their whiteness as weapons every single day against anyone who isn’t. I will no longer allow people like that to have power over me. So it is.
Women of porcelain, bisque, ivory, what do you have to teach me about self-acceptance?
What makes you an expert on teaching self love to ALL women?
Why do you think it is you who can help me detox my thoughts when you know nothing of my hardships? What’s up with that white saviour complex?
What is it about your skin experience that I can adapt into my own life?
White-passing privilege that I carry but don’t feel when I look at my golden olive skin responding to tedious questions such as ‘No, where are you REALLY from?’.
Even when we sit side by side in office cubicles, on the bus and at share table restaurants, our experiences are very different.
When we are in queues, running errands or in shop aisles going about our business, will it be you or I that someone will assume is the ‘help’?
When we are in the background, at the park, tending to children, or answering a knock at the door, will you mistake us for the nanny or the housekeeper?
When we are on the screen or the sole woman of colour in speaker & summit lineups, should we be grateful for the crumbs offered to a few of us, if at all?
When we are walking down the street, in car parks or anywhere really, can you really know how it feels to be threatened and hurled with slurs and hatred for the skin we cannot shed? This is not just catcalling. Our experience is not the same. Our vantage point is not the same.
White ladies, what books have you written that can help me break free from the trauma of my skin? Or the shame placed on my skin. Olive, ebony, golden, yellow, ochre. Trauma that you benefit from but don’t see because ‘we are all women’ even when we do not identify as such. Do you even ask us? You say ‘you don’t see colour’ but you put yourself first to our detriment. You are upheld as the default for ideal beauty, but how can you be when your toxicity inside weeps like open cysts on the surface of your skin and the words that come from your lips?
Your presumption that you can teach and coach me into ‘getting free’, is truly laughable.
Not a single one of us is free. You are not free. You will never be free unless we are all free.
Will you do the work for real? What is sistership if you only build up your own? What is sisterhood if you only have spaces at your table for your skin kin?
My anger heats to fever pitch at the notion that we are all the same. That we are all one. We are not. Our lived experiences are very different.
My anger reaches boiling point when you mistake one of us for another because you think we all look the same. We do not.
Why is it that your books fill the self-help shelves?
Why is it that you think you can save us all when it is you that takes up every space or seat at the table in a system that is built to keep all women of colour down? Where do you get your audacity from? Are you willing to give up your seat in exchange for honest progress?
You call us the wrong name and think it is okay. You read the news and mispronounce names and giggle as if your ineptitude amuses. It does not.
You might think you keep your thoughts silent from the world, but your thoughts run amok when you read our words, when you see us and hear us roar. You tell us we are angry and are offended when we speak our truth. You tell us, ‘no, that’s not how it is’ or ‘that’s not what I meant’ or that we have hurt you, shamed you and your fragility when we tell you to please, please stop hurting us. Our rising voices and fire offends you, you who harm us every day.
You presume who we are.
You teach about belonging and loving the skin you are in. But in what ways are you benefiting from us being regarded as ‘other’ and less than, forever making us the odd one out, or the token?
You think you can know us and empathise with our experience. Yet I know that each woman of colour that I know, has a myriad of experiences which I may or may not know or understand first hand, or relate to. How on earth can you?
I see her in all her olive, brown, toffee, ebony skinned glory and I believe her when she tells me her stories. I believe her when she says she has been harmed. I do not question her. I believe her. I do not silence her anger. I do not play devil’s advocate. I do not tone police her words on her personal pages or in her spaces. I do not chirp up with ‘me too’ and centre myself rudely. I do not derail conversations. I do not disrespect her.
You have been silent, silent, silent when women of colour have long suffered, but violent, violent, violent with your words and actions when we call you out. We will always call you out. We will keep expressing our loving anger and fire words. We are rising and we will be the ones who change the world.
White women, when will your blood reach fever pitch? When will you be here for each and every one of us?
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