“In our research, what’s detrimental to the black community is the lack of access to comprehensive health care and education,” said Candace Cabbil, the program associate for pro-choice group Sister Song. “We believe that abortion is a part of healthcare.”
I wrote the poem below because I had grown tired of people not seeing me beyond the color of my skin or my “otherness.” The other day I visited a friend and the first thing her mother-in-law asked me was if I was from Haiti after she heard my accent. I know not everybody can differentiate which is which accent from people in the Caribbean but sometimes it just gets tiring when you are lumped into one big statistic. She later asked my 11 year-old, who is proving to be a very accomplished artist already, if she wanted to go to the local school in NH. My daughter was offended that she could only see her attending a local university when she has ambitions for more specialized ones like Rhode Island School of design or MIT. She is young but we stress education and she knows what she wants to do and where she wants to go already. My friend’s mother-in-law’s attitude plays into the whole educated blacks equals affirmative action thing without her even knowing how she is being perceived by a person like me. It does not even matter because she does not care. She does not “see me.”
On the macro level I see it being played out on a larger scale as in African-American’s women’s right to choose as exemplified in this article that talks about Anti-Abortion Billboards. The organization responsible for these billboards just lumps all black women into one pile without any credible evidence. I get offended by things like this because it feels as if so many people are speaking for black and African-American women/people or even for our President without knowing what is true or not about so many things. Have many of them ever visited the home of a black person in the inner city? Do many of them know our true day to day struggles? No. I wonder why they feel the need to use our skin color to define us. The poem came from the recognition that even though I might have a lot to say about many things, in this country, when people see me they first see my “blackness” and then they register (or not) the rest of me. My daughter puts it even better. She says it is like she is invisible. This is how it feels most days especially living in surburbia where there are not many of us. It is sad that they don’t see us as human beings. Then I realize it is imprinted in the sacred document of this country that blacks are not fully human and I realize that race is stitched into the very fabric of what makes this country what it is. Not taking out the piece in the Constitution that stresses the inhumanity of black people gives a kind of permission for those who see us as ‘lesser than’ to continue to dehumanize us by not even registering our presence or our needs. After all, the Constitution says they can.
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The whole President Obama certiicate fiasco made me want to say something about it so I decided to break out this poem to say what is on my mind. If they can question his very citizenship then what would they do to a mere immigrant like me? The fact that my 11 year-old daughter could translate my words into a drawing says that she is really listening and hearing what I have to say regarding race past and present in America.
See Amaranthia’s art blog here.