No. 2

a Black body is somebody

Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

Paula Wilson

whatever scholar
                                 you might be

in whatever tortured

if you please
                         stop saying

the Black body

arrest yourself
                            i’m a person

didn’t you hear me
                                    the first time

i asked

don’t you know
                              i’m not

                 i’m a Black human

standing next
                           to another

Black human
                           we are a riot

a song of humanity
                                      amassing under

a street light

to our kindred
                            join us

we are gathered
                              in history’s

                   our footprints beckoning

i’m not a theory
                               of some

ivory tower
                      even in new england

don’t call me
                         the Black body

as if i were
                     a dead husk

a container of day-old

with no brain
                          no bejeweled cells

no tongue speckled
                                      with elder-story

no memory
                       no rememory

Honorée Fanonne Jeffers is the author of six books, including The Age of Phillis, which was long-listed for a National Book Award and won a NAACP Image Award for Literary Work, and the novel The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois, which was long-listed for a National Book Award and won a National Book Critics Circle Award. Jeffers is the Paul and Carol Daube Sutton Professor of English at University of Oklahoma.


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