In this poem Watershed Voice columnist Aundrea Sayrie answers the age old question, when is it OK for white folks to use the “N-word?”
Disclaimer: This poem features strong language, and subject matter that may make some uncomfortable. Reader discretion advised.
Watershed Voice columnist Aundrea Sayrie says it’s time to “throw the entire rolodex of excuses away” when it comes to not talking about racism, and have the conversation already.
“I do not understand these reactions to non-accusatory statements. How is initiating a conversation about racism deduced to divisive rhetoric? Is it willful ignorance? Banning books and Critical Race Theory from the classroom doesn’t mean The Devil’s Punchbowl doesn’t exist. That’s not how that works.”
Watershed Voice columnist Aundrea Sayrie writes, “I have wasted so much of my time and talent centering the ‘White gaze.’ A term coined by Toni Morrison to explain the concept of catering to and living under the constant scrutiny of white supremacy. It is the ethnocentric lens through which all behaviors pass. A tool used to measure anything to its proximity to Whiteness. The gold standard. Including behaviors, languages, bodies, literally everything. A close-minded approach, and standard we have been forced to uphold for survival’s sake.”
Watershed Voice columnist Aundrea Sayrie writes, “There is disappointment in finding oneself in a discriminatory situation. The event itself can leave you reeling, but what gets me every time, are the nice White people. The witnesses who do nothing. The ones that just stand there with all that privilege and watch. Complicit.”
Watershed Voice columnist Aundrea Sayrie writes, “Although there has been much recognition of the historical trauma experienced by people of color in this country, there has never been a time that these racist institutions have been tossed out and rebuilt. They have only been reimagined and enforced in ways that continue to oppress people of color. Racial inequalities exist in financial, educational, judicial, medical and social constructs.”
Watershed Voice columnist Aundrea Sayrie writes, “Never one to fold and knowing I am not the only one holding mixed emotions about what it means to be proud and Black, this year my focus is on highlighting sources of racial based traumatic stress, and their negative impact on the mental health of the Black community.”
Watershed Voice’s Aundrea Sayrie says while reimagining Ariel is a step in the right direction, she has reservations about the upcoming live action adaption.
WSV’s Aundrea Sayrie writes, “I don’t want to see another hashtag. I want to see the dismantling of White Supremacy. It is a monster that is coming for you if you are a person of color, a woman, young, old, poor, or a member of a dispensable marginalized group. Shock, thoughts and prayers… it’s a useless cycle. We need real reform.”
Watershed Voice’s Aundrea Sayrie writes, “Never abandon personal discernment. Not even within the spiritual sect. A person’s title doesn’t always align with their heart posture. Gaslighting can happen in church too. So if you have to leave an environment because it is causing you trauma, leave. Leave the trauma, leave the person(s), leave a trail (by reporting it), but don’t leave God.”
Watershed Voice’s Aundrea Sayrie writes, “Mother’ships’ come in all forms. Grandmothers, aunties, teachers, first ladies, etc. So even if your situation doesn’t look traditional or ideal, hopefully you can still celebrate a special woman in your life. And if it’s been a while, and won’t cause you stress…call your mother.”
WSV’s Aundrea Sayrie celebrates the work of Shel Silverstein, and laments the banning of books at the expense of art and expression. “At times art is shocking, sometimes commemorative, sometimes controversial, still other times uncomfortable. That is the point of art.”
WSV’s Aundrea Sayrie writes, “Worthy causes have always required allies. Thankfully the work of past generations has not been in vain because inhumane and cruel social constructs have been eradicated but the fact remains there is still need for progress on many fronts. There is still a need for advocacy and activism. This is because although the month of February is coming to a close, Black history, Black joy, Black exploitation, Black pain, and racism isn’t over.”
Content Warning: The following contains unsettling and graphic details concerning the life of Sarah Baartman. Baartman was sold into slavery, and put on exhibit as a “freakshow attraction” due to her naturally curvaceous body. She endured unimaginable cruelty as she was sexually exploited for others’ profit. This piece is intended to educate and bring a broader awareness of racist colonial exploitation, and the dehumanization of Black people. Reader discretion is advised.
Charlotta Bass is believed to be the first African-American woman to own and operate a newspaper in the United States, and was the first African-American woman nominated for vice president.
Fred Hampton was an American civil rights leader, deputy chairman of the Black Panther Party Illinois chapter, and founder of the City of Chicago’s first Rainbow Coalition.
Walter P. Manning was a Tuskegee Airman who flew 50 missions during World War II. In 2007, he was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, and the Air Medal for heroism six times..
Garrett Morgan was an African-American inventor, businessman, and community leader who is credited with inventing an improved sewing machine and traffic signal, a hair-straightening product, and a respiratory device that would later provide the blueprint for World War I gas masks.
Gloria Richardson Dandridge was the first woman in the United States to lead a civil rights movement outside of the Deep South as co-founder of the Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee (CNAC).