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I had an interesting email conversation today with one of my friends about being of mixed parentage. She asked if I had ever experienced problems being accepted by other blacks. Of course that reminded me of one of my poems that was published back in the early 90s in an anthology of work by mixed race women. The anthology was titled “Miscegenation Blues”, edited by Carol Camper and published by Sister Vision Press.

Anyway, the poem came out of an experience I had when I was asked to leave a women of colour caucus because they felt because I was mixed, I wasn’t really black. I told them I had every right to stay because when they start shooting niggers they aren’t gonna say, “Don’t shoot that one ’cause she ain’t dark enough.” After that, they let me stay. Which in it’s own way is kind of sad.

When you live your life as what I call, a raisin in the bread pudding (a person of colour in a white world), you learn to accept that there are going to be some white people who are not exactly thrilled that you are in their company. When that happens, when you face the racism, because you accept the possibility it will happen, and sometimes even expect it to happen, you can cushion yourself against the hurt.

However, when you experience a rejection from those you feel are your own – those who have shared the experience of racism and those you look towards for sanctuary – it cuts to the bone.

Noblewomen in Exile

i hover on the perimeter of a loosely formed circle
a spectator of tears
an audience to hollowed anguished voices
voices that echo
reverberating in my hollow places within

in silent reflection i observe
women’s faces
pain etched in darkened brows
tugs the corners of eyes
welled with tears
flashing with fright

i gaze at my coppery arms
at the pale band on my wrist
that has not been kissed by the warmth of the sun
and am reminded that i will never enjoy
the free exercise of white privilege

so i scrub
scrub until the blood mingles with tears
but i can not erase
the stain on my skin
on my soul

with a sneer they exclaim
i’m what you get
when you put
in the coffee
a humiliating reminder
of the master’s midnight visits

high yeller
a prize to the men
a threat to the women

what you frett’n for girl?
you got good hair
you can pass
you don’t even sound like us

the circle tightens
in hushed voices
we expose our scars
share our wounds
wounds inflicted by those
we had hoped to trust
hoped would embrace us as their own

before us is set a great banquet
a bountiful harvest of our labours
eyes lowered in fear we come to the table
but the food we are permitted to partake of
sours in our swollen bellies

what is there that is truly mine?
will i wander
forever searching for that place i belong?
as i watch them parade
the artifacts
of a birthright
i feel unworthy to claim

who are we?
the ones who dance between worlds
tossed in the windstream
that slips between the clouds
noblewomen in exile