Poet Bridgette Bianca on connecting through spoken word

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A packed crowd waits for the Free Black Women's Library event to start at Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen. Photo credit: Courtney Kocak

Poet Bridgette Bianca recently performed at Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen in South LA. She breaks down one of her pieces, touching on her life and work, and her part in a growing local community of young African American writers.


Bridgette Bianca. Photo credit: Courtney Kocak.


a message from uppity negresses by Bridgette Bianca, from her book be/trouble (Writ Large Press, February 2020)

i know what you’re thinking when you see me
she think she all that
she think she too good
she forgot her place
she think she better than somebody
well
the elders told me
i had to be
twice as good
twice as nice
twice as smart
twice as fast
twice as strong
twice as clean
twice as polite
work twice as hard
to get half as much
as you
and here i am
lapping you
in every race
outperforming
outlifting
outlasting
outplaying you
in every match
still
fighting
for what you leave
as table scraps
and
you
a pseudo intellectual
a so-called
conservative
liberal
progressive
feminist

suffragette
realist
socialist
an ally
are jealous
of my oppression
you hastily throw on
your sheerest victimhood
to prove
you
too
have been discriminated against
someone once called you racist
and you were aghast
you
too
have experienced sorrow and suffering
and only your brown nanny
and only your black mammy
was there to kiss your booboo
you
too
have been offended
by words just as bad as nigger with the hard er
such as
snowflake
mayonnaise
pale face
and becky
you
too
have grappled with the burdens of history
the weight of ancestral guilt
is too much to bear
you are tired of apologizing for your privilege
it is unfair
that we all
have issues

but only i
brown
black
migrant
immigrant
indigenous
imported goods gone bad
exported goods marked return to sender
feather headdress and fried chicken
come home to roost
only i
expect
hand outs
a leg up
a head start
some type of affirmation
of my humanity
because i am lazy
even as i work
twice as hard
am twice as polite
clean
strong
fast
smart
nice
good
and the elders taught me
to be humble
to keep my head down
and you'd never notice me
so i don't dance in the end zone
i don't beat my chest after i score
i just adorn myself
in the kind of things
you would call
tacky
ratchet
ghetto
until you

manifest my destiny
repackage it to be cool
urban
tribal
ethnic
and then you tell me
you didn't even notice i was black
you say we are all one race
all lives matter
i know better but
you demand i concede and repeat
you try to pacify me
with your colorblind mythology
the way you once used christ
on a cross
to tether me
even after the chains
were off
you say you don& notice
but i think you do
so i want you to know
i am all that
i am too good
i know my place is first
and if you have to ask
then i have to confirm
the rumors are true
i am better than you