love poems: hairy legs

hairylegs

when a white feminist cries
how many black women will she ask
to hand her a tissue?

three
two to hold the box and one to wipe her tears

when being privileged gets too hard for her
how many of them will come to you for comfort?

two

and how many times, black woman
will she open her mouth and ask you how you’re doing?

possibly once

this is why i do not call myself a feminist
that word is for women who think hairy legs are a revolution
they don’t know what it means to come from those
who’ve been sold by the measure of our hips
how many children we could breed

what a pleasure that must be
to be able to count the days it’s been
since the last time you shaved your legs

when somewhere a black mother weeps
and counts the days it’s been
since the last time her first born took his last breath
body leaking on ground
her name was his last prayer

or on the seventh day
when light and dark were made
the Creator rested and said
“woman, here is my gift to you
this will be your burden.”
and the earth responded in thunder and lightening

and the wind is the echo of the first time
a black woman opened her mouth to the sky and
said, “my G-d, my G-d, my G-d.”

so excuse me white feminists
if i do not jump to hold your hand in solidarity
half of you do not know what sisterhood means
you are too busy trying to be like white men
G-d complex
and i stopped believing in white gods a long time ago

i believe in myself
i am G-d
my hair is sweet grass
my teeth are the stars

so when i say fuck your hairy legs
when i say fuck your hairy legs

i mean that shit sincerely

Note:

“A womanist is to feminist as purple is to lavendar.” – Alice Walker, In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens: Womanist Prose, 1983

I often don’t preface any of my writing, however this topic is important to me.

My writing is for black women. My purpose is to uplift and support black women. If I can do that by sharing my experiences with violent white feminism, then I will continue to do so until I can no longer put paper to pen or finger to keyboard.

I wrote this poem after experiencing the vitriol of white feminism, particularly during my time in Baton Rouge. The passive-aggression, the undermining, the silence, the erasure and disloyalty that often occurs when well meaning white feminists suddenly have computational errors when it comes to respecting the space I take up as a black woman. And when I stand up for myself, I am made to be just another angry black woman, unjustified in my reaction to white violence. Using that historically racist trope as a means to erase my work from a community that is seemingly fine with continuing a legacy of erasing women of color.

I could go on and on about the history of white feminism excluding and using black women’s bodies for its benefit. We could talk about the present liberal white feminists who use the title in order to say, “well, at least i’m not like them.”, while still having internal conflicts with their own racist ideology; which is often more violent than overt racism. We could literally have this conversation for days. But instead, I wrote a poem about it.

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