{npm24: 27}

Remember those Nike ads from the late 90’s that demanded, “Is It In You?” I never think of those without thinking of Dr. Ruth O. Saxon, one of my brilliant writing professors at Mills College who insisted both literally and metaphorically that we “define the it” in our writing. Graduate school has so much reading and writing that it’s easy to slide into a kind of academia voice wherein you use a lot of words but basically communicate nothing of substance. Ruth rained fire on that, and is often who I think of when I find myself writing around something. So here I am to define my “it.”


Asked, “Is it in you?”
We demanded, “Define ‘it.'”
Questions are a way
To evade assumption’s claim
Forcing “it” to speak its name.

(Explanation: a lot of people don’t know that the first recorded use of the word “microaggression” was in 1970, in an essay by Black American psychologist Chester Middlebrook Pierce (1927-2016). In the case of this poem, the “it” being forced to speak its name is whatever reasoning lurks behind the microaggression of even people who know and love me occasionally assuming that I can do something better than they can, because I’m Black. No: I can’t. I have to practice like every other human being, thank you.

And yes: it’s National Poetry Month, kids. Beware that every interaction with me this month WILL, in fact, turn into a poem…)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.