by Zeena Garnett
Many of you may be scratching your head, wondering what exactly it means to talk “White.” Those of us who have grown up in the black community know exactly what this means. We live in a society where ignorance is in, success is measured by the gold in ones grill and intelligence is dumbed down immensely.
Those of us who do not conform to this mentality are often unfairly criticized or even ostracized. We are referred to as uppity for choosing a different path, for leaving the hood in search of better opportunities, for speaking or not speaking a certain way or for not following the latest trends. Our “blackness” is questioned as is there is an actual guide to being black.
Sadly, we do not fit in with our own, nor do we feel comfortable around our Caucasian peers. There is always this insatiable desire to prove ourselves. On one hand, we must prove that we have not sold out for chasing after the American dream. On the other hand, we strive to prove that we are not the stereotypical black person so wrongfully portrayed in the media. How can one find this balance while still remaining true to one’s identity?
‘Talking “White,” ’ by Maria James-Thiaw, is a collection of poems that not only address race, but others such as religion, politics, love, in a style that is all her own. The author gives you a sneak peek into her world and her innermost thoughts. She says the things that most of us want to say but can’t.
It pays homage to yesterday’s generations that have paved the way for us. It also cries out to today’s seemingly lost generation in pieces such as, “The Had Generation.”
“Eyes wide, I watch minstrels
and wonder where we went wrong,
these black faces,
full of zip dandy dreams,
spit ignorance from their lips like watermelon seeds:
“The word nigga don’t bother me.”
James-Thiaw has a flow that is so lucid which is easily identifiable in pieces such as, The Post-Black Manifesto. It literally rolls from your lips.
“…it’s spit from full lips,
Slips from pen tips;
It will live in your mouth tomorrow.”
This book is a thought provoking work of art. I would encourage others to read this, whether poetry and non-poetry enthusiasts, history junkies or anyone with a general appreciation for literature. There will certainly be pieces that you yourself have experienced or someone you know. If you have never experienced side ways stares when you walk into a room, have never experienced discrimination you will be able to empathize with countless others who have and who continue the fight.
Talking “White” by Maria James-Thiaw
Post Dada Press $10.95, 70 pages