Re-marks

Re|Mark            

I was asked to participate in this project early this year.

Hesitant at first, I noticed that almost ALL of the women involved were white. Despite this, they were operating under a “womanist framework”.

Under the recommendation of a friend I signed on. I asked about compensation, as I understand that this project leads to future grant money and opportunities. The explanation for possible payment hinged on grant opportunities.

A few weeks go by and I check in to see how things are rolling along. After a few email exchanges, I’m added on to the project. I am asked for a bio, description, and photo for the project site. These are given over.

I check the site and I see that my name is listed incorrectly. My name is specifically listed under my artist name to tie my work together. I take my concern to the Project Manager, Meg, who tells me that she will change the flyer, but that the flyers have already gone to print.

This is not ok, and I state as such. Only then is Meg prompted to inquire with the printer if this can be changed. It’s not too late. I am then asked if I can help distribute flyers.

A few days later, I am sent an email for fundraising to distribute. It is a Cleveland based company we are told.

I click the link to the fundraising page, and my image is the first to appear.

In a project founded, funded, and mostly benefiting white women, my black body is being used (without permission) to raise funds. There was no request to distribute this image to a third party for fundraising specifically.

I make a request to have the image removed, and this request is not addressed for almost a day.

I receive an email telling me it will be removed. After 24 hours it remains on the site. A follow-up inquiry is sent, and I then immediately receive an email asking me to call Meg and NOT enlist help with the removal of my image from any volunteers.

Meg then explains that she gave the images to the fundraising site, and they were given permission to select the images and they are in control of the speed in which they were removed.

I am still waiting for my request to receive a response, to be addressed, and for these changes that make me uncomfortable to be resolved.

It’s a lesson for me. I am learning that I am responsible for representation of my body and identity, which is valuable to white people when it can be used to promote “diversity” without much effort.

#remark #remarkonyourspaces #markmaking

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Esau

You arrived whole

You came and offered to me what I knew to be my birthright

So that I could be whole too

Together with you it seems. Two completes

What you don’t know is that I am also whole

Complete

Fortified

So you offered me food from my own birthright stew

I’ve eaten twice now when your entire intent was to starve me

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Kylie

Knocking off black is so easy when black men sell it by the inch.

They sell inches thinking thats the rope they climb back up to be saved.

They feet slip. They hang. White girls don’t like blood on their white dresses.

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Fear

What did they take from you to make you so afraid?

Did you forget your own two hands?

Where did you leave all of your armor?

Have you forgotten the tools you built? The weapons we built for you?

What did they take from you to make you so afraid?

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The First Time I Broke You Open

I dug into this orange today and it reminded me of you

The skin broke easy under my thumb and forefinger, and was thicker than I expected

The membrane broke just slightly under pressure once exposed

And a trail of juice ran down the side of my thumb

I licked it off, quickly, before it dropped off the edge of my hand

Folds of orange petals pressed up, alert through the white skin

And I moved my fingernails carefully around them

I split the orange once, then twice, then into quarters

Picked from the shelf it was warm as I peeled it, warm as I tasted the first slice

It tasted like vodka,

There’s orange peel under my sticky hands

My unwashed hands smell of you

Rather, what reminds me of you

 

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