Devour My Blackness While I Sit Here Hungry

Two poems about American theater by Anya Pearson

Devour My Blackness While I Sit Here Hungry

I want to commercialize your pain

                                                                             Hear me out:

I watched the... presentation?
            performance?
thing?
             What do you call that there?
                         Is there a name for what you do?

Anyhow, it’s good stuff. Really feisty.
                              One could even say.....
                                     “powerful.”

I’d like to capitalize
on your....
            “feminism.”
“Strong” woman-hood.
            I’d like to bring you in, have you...do....?
                        “perform” the thing
and then use it to discuss
this notion of “feminism”
            with my inmates.

Here’s why this excites me:
These men are a mix of violent
and non-violent offenders.
            Some are even in for violence against women!
Full of backwards ideas, misogyny.
Some are even bigots.
And you’re, well, you know.... look at you. (Wink).
I want you to be the spark
to ignite...

Conversation.
Lively Conversation.

                                                 I will be there to lead the discussion, of course.


This is Portland Theatre

“We Denounce White Supremacy”

A white actor performs in blackface.

Shuckin’ n jivin’ to

the vociferous applause

of an all-white audience.


This is their favorite part.


                                                                       Devouring blackness.

the closest they will come

to entering blackness.

But still safe enough away

to laugh at

to enjoy the spectacle they make

of our misery.

***

“We Unequivocally Support Black Lives Matter”

In his office, on the bookcase, next to

his other trophies, collectibles, and accolades,

a white artistic director proudly

displays a plaque that reads

“honorary black person.”

To him, this is admissible

even bragging territory

I am almost black – black adjacent – honorary – I direct all the black shows – I devour blackness for my own gain and thus – I know what it is like to be you – I am almost more black than you are

***

“We Have Far to Go As A Nation”

a child’s birthday party.

               We are the only black family.

                          We are getting looks.

constantly having to explain

why we are there...

how we know the family.

***

“We Are Poorly Educated About the Truth of the Black Experience”

“diversity,” “equity,” and “inclusion”

buzzwords when seeking funding

                                                     suddenly we are marketable en masse

***

POCs are so HOT right now.

***

                         POCs are sooooooooo HOT right now.

***

                                POCs are so HOT right now.

***

                                                  POCs are sooooooooo HOT right now.

***

“We Support Black Artists Demanding Change”

Hyperaware of my blackness

                                                            claustrophobic
                                                                     in Portland.

contrasted

        struck against

               made discordant by

                                                   the stark whiteness around me.

I am on display. I am trying to... I am fitting in? Am I? I am not. I don’t fit. I don’t belong. I am sticking out... I am the only one... again... I am being judged... labeled difficult... demanding...sassy... exotic... I begin to grown silent... microaggressions... the fucking microaggressions...this place will never feel like home.

***

“We Choose to be Actively Anti-Racist”

I am on a plane to New York.
The man sitting in the window seat is named Will.
We share pictures of our kids, laugh about them growing up too fast.
I spill knowledge of the British Monarchy. Wow, you do know your history, he says.
We laugh – just two people 35,000 feet up in the sky.

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