by Brittney Maddox

“It’s hard out here for a bitch.”

Says Lily Allen
as she sashays around
with women  who I could call my sisters
and it’s easy for her to say
Doesn’t hip hop degrade black women anyway?
Why is it a problem?

When you’re a black woman
the first thing people think
is not how smart you are or
how humorous you are
and what are your talents are

They want to know what pieces of you can they fit together into the glass screen of their tvs

they want to know if you know how to twerk
As if twerking is a skill you somehow inherited
from your ancestors

As black woman

my body is under a microscope
my thighs are picked at
my breasts are examined
my hair is a puzzle

It is a mystery
why is what’s on top of my head a mystery?
Why do you think my body is some equation
worth solving?

Why do you speak “black” to me?
As if dividing your tongue
is the solution of having a conversation with me
as if slang is a second language

Why do you pick apart my mind?
As if I am the well-spoken token
dictionary to urban culture

So yes
I’ll teach how to twerk, how to dougie, and drop it like it’s hot
You can call me “boo”
I can cornrow your hair
I can pop lock and drop it
Stop it flip it and reverse it
Wait…let’s reverse that!

My culture is not something you can rehearse
you cannot act “black”

My body is not a costume
My culture is not something you can consume
You cannot emulate my experiences and sell them for the world to see
No that’s not an accurate representation of me on BET
I’m not a video girl

Gyrating across your screen
I’m not a stupid hoe
bands won’t make me dance
I’m not your mamie
I won’t cook and clean for you
I’m not your jezebel

I’m not your chocolate delight
I’m not the girl who only exists for you at night

I’m trying desperately to mute the stereotype of what it means to be a black woman.
In a country that sees me in pieces but not as a whole.

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