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They asked me:

    "What are you, black woman?"

I said "Phillis Wheatley,

scribbling, screaming

on the page: "Tho' black as Cain,

I can be refin'd and join the

angelic train!"

(Fell on deaf ears).


They told me:

    "You're bad, Black woman!  Color of Evil,

Diabolic dye!  Sapphire,

Amazon, Bitch, hypersexed Jezebel;

Or if high yeller: tragic mulatto,

crazed concubine, schizo-succubus."

(You got that wrong).


They added: "Or, if good, black woman, you must be

Aunt Jemima, bigbosomed mammy,

patting cake, sho's you bone,

scolding, laughing, lifting,

scrubbing, soothing,

cajoling, caring

for everybody --- but your own

man, child, community."

(Excuse me!)

I told them:

Look in history's mirror:

I am Cleopatra, Delilah, Nefertiti,

Sojourner, Harriet, Miss Ida B.,

Fannie Lou, Angela, Winnie . . .

Movers and shakers,

Nobody's fool, or just a babymaker.


I am Lorraine writing 'bout

raisins busting in the sun;

New black sister/scholars putting history on the run:

bell hooks, paula giddings, pat collins,

pat williams, clenora hudson-weems,

claudia tate, gloria wade gayles,

beverly guy-sheftall, barbara

christian, you name them,

I became them.


Black sisters, we see no pale sky,

but the rainbow that's enuf,

hearing how we survived, but shaking that weight,

breaking the habit of surviving, before it's too late.

Moving to liberation of self and society

NO MORE "Ethnic Notions": FREE TO BE ME.

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