Angry. Black. And Woman

A Poem

By Sophie Efange

© Orianne Lopes, extracted from the serie Les Mélanies, 2013

To be in a state of constant rage

always on fire. red. all the time molten. ruptured.

A pre-condition of your Blackness, of your womanhood, of your otherness

it oftentimes seems,

to exist within this world that hates you, that deliberately forgot you in its design.

Gasping for breath while remaining afloat

inside this dangerous Black womanly body,

policed, brutalised, dehumanised, invisible,

your life rendered into a collection of short fleeting moments

when you are not otherwise drowning

in that toxic rage which will consume you; swallow you whole

Seething. Reeling. Feeling. Repeat

Breath. Breath. Breath again, please

Always preoccupied

Always distracted

“Tell me of your pain” the world enquires insincerely

“but do it quietly” it demands

“Show me where it hurts, not now, perhaps later” it lies

“Your time will come dear, be patient”

Your screams unheard

All ears firmly shut.

Seething. Reeling. Feeling. Absorb. Repeat.

Breath. Breath. Breath again, please

Always calculating

Always adapting

to the new rules of this game:

smaller, softer, more amenable,

always something else

while all the time never guaranteeing your freedom.

Dare you speak of the daily violence enacted upon that dangerous Black womanly body.

Dare you demand reparations from all your fucking oppressors

For the land they stole, your ancestors they shackled, the earth that they poison,

your sisters they rape, your mothers they kill, for declaring you ugly

the response will never be what justice requires.

Your words, even when painstakingly assembled to recount your unspeakable horrors, always deliberately misunderstood,

truths distorted.

Your actions, your strategies for survival, always ironically deemed violent in the oppressor’s heightened imagination.

Always policed into submission.

Silenced. Eventually beneath the soil.

But remember sister, your anger is always appropriate, fully justified, absolutely necessary in response to a world that fucking forgot you in its design.

Your sheer existence is resistance

especially in a world where you were not meant to survive, as Aunty Audrey told us.

Sophie is an Ethiopian-Cameroonian post-colonial feminist who works on women’s rights at an international development organisation in London. She is an avid racial, gender and economic justice campaigner.