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    Books & arts

    Black Label

    Khadija Heeger

    2007-02-21, Issue 292

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    I have twisted your words
    twisted them into my skin
    back and forth, back and forth
    like the click, click of a loom
    I have twisted your words into my hair and my breasts
    twisted them into my tongue and my teeth and my thoughts.
    I have platted and woven and burned them into this tapestry until finally I see
    there is this image called me.

    A collision of disguises in fruitless beginnings converge with time to crack silences that live beyond the cacophony of this image
    and my step breaks into to reveal the suddenness of something true
    I am not your words
    I need not answer to those words

    Black Label

    somebody killed the music and wrote discord and told us all to
    make mad noise and like it
    crying about the hole in the bucket
    so here we are paying to be lulled by some strange tune
    you can do this at home in your living room but there’s a TV I presume
    streaming in the sub human text
    filling the decibel quota so your off spring can develop a catatonic stride
    we call it national pride, everything else is nullified
    are you up for man-ipulation.
    can you ask why, can you ask why?
    and then can you look yourself in the eye –

    can you ask why, is bush still the president
    can you ask why , is bin laden still resident
    can you ask why, no African country is holding tight, although we hope South Africa might
    can you ask why HIV and internalised oppression has Africa on its knees
    can you ask why, this has now become a black disease
    and look yourself in the eye if you please

    can you ask why black, why white, why coloured
    can you ask why we keep the love in the media
    selling ourselves this dilution, afraid of the solution
    can you ask why and look yourself in the eye.

    can you ask why 20% controls 80% and then ask why your mother can’t pay the rent
    can you ask why your human family is living street bound
    can you ask why there’s no change no change no change,
    just some poor fool like me that’s up on a stage
    that complains
    can you ask why your father shot himself, can you ask why too many have no food, can you ask why
    the shits so deep like the nothing that we speak
    flagrant testimony of that tired scripture, “its because I’m black you see!”
    can you ask why we sit around clamouring to be just like the picture of whitey
    I’m talking the material economy and how it’s used you see
    and it just so happens it comes with that pristine mentality,
    jik clean and pristine
    yet I don’t see us taking control of our destinies,
    I just keep hearing, what’s that you’re saying,
    “it’s because I’m black you see!”

    ah but that’s the famous copout for the dropout, for the victim
    and though its true
    there’s still no excuse for you to think that makes up for exemption from your own redemption
    is your life worth a mention? or
    are we gonna live in mimicry or find a way to see the change, see the change,
    see the change
    in you and me
    are you ready to ask why, why not,
    why you why me
    why not change, why not change

    can you say ‘I am’
    can you say ‘I am the..’
    can you say ‘I am the change’
    I am the change X5

    or are we just ready to toy with the last remains of another idealistic notion and prepare ourselves to grow old in the economic handout game
    and call any other aspiration a dream because we’re just to damn lazy to create humanity differently without screaming ‘it’s because I’m black you see!’

    So let me get this straight, black means we can’t wake up from a struggle mentality and free ourselves from a victim reality?
    oh my brotha what’s that you keep saying “hey man its always been that way!”
    when did you give up, how many times have you been bought and
    bartered for, oh yes that’s right I forgot there’s no slavery anymore
    it’s pussilanimity, voluntary contribution to some more systematic distribution
    of bubblegum identity,
    division precision
    and what’s more an abuse of sameness in the name of
    unity for the quick march of your own thoughts to the march of the massive identity the one that’s not about you or me,
    getting caught in the PC tradition is getting away with omission
    assume the position!

    possibility is probability is likely is can be
    it’s just up to me
    our choice means it could be
    should be a different history
    wake up from this victim mentality
    that’s the control you see

    there is no system we are not a part of
    there is no difference we cannot be the start of
    how we use it is the key and if its gonna harm the one next you
    we may as well be the gun or knife and the hynosis too.
    because it doesn’t matter what flag you’re flying or what colour your buying
    if you’re marching with a deadly compromise you’re just wearing that disguise
    the one that we call ‘colonised’
    your identity is rooted in the me
    the master of your destiny,

    whose nigger are you,
    nigger is the myopic ass with power to change who assumes his future depends on
    a handout to getout
    of himself/herself/myself/yourself
    I said get up! get up

    or get down on all fours and drop drawers!
    now I ask you does that give the victim in you pause.

    can you say change, can you say change
    can you say I am the change
    I am the change, I am the change

    can you ask why
    a question is worth a million assassinations
    dissertations, simulations, violations and virtual realities
    can we give up this disease
    no more liberation from the outside
    this is an inside story
    this is not about glory or dream making
    it’s a simple question
    of not playing the shame game.

    This is a black label let’s turn the table people and allow it to enable

    African can you say it, I am the change
    I am the change, I am the change…x5

    Welcome Citizens of the Universe!
    Humanity of she
    what kind of African are you?
    What kind of African am I?
    what kind of African makes you African?
    what kind of black is that?
    what kind of white is this?
    what kind of color is coloured?
    what kind of woman is this?
    what kind of man is that?
    anthropometric set work still at work
    if we haven’t discovered our unity in diversity
    gender equality won’t be a reality if you ask me

    political rhetoric makes me fret
    makes what determines me a complex no reality
    in a political menagerie of constructed identity
    inheritance of imperialist mentality
    is there an African women free in me?

    what kind of woman are you?
    does it make you a human too?
    what kind of sister makes me a sister?
    and not part of the make up of the Mister
    the credential of he, does it make me
    am I still living with a mindset designed to break me

    There are women in parliament
    women in business
    women in religion
    women in decision
    yet there’s still not enough of you to make gender equality true
    violence against women makes me black and blue
    because her bruises are mine too you see
    I live in the humanity of she

    there are women on welfare, women being batter everywhere
    women denied, women with stolen pride, women on the street

    women talking other women cheap, women buying images from that nursery rhyme
    there are women doing time, women in the home raising their children alone,
    women in captivity with the cheque book and the Audi its about the money, is this equality
    what kind of gender reality makes us free
    What definition satisfies the woman in me

    we are living in patriarchal red tape
    all it seems to do is change its shape
    and women don’t make it easier to take
    we perpetuate the ‘bitch’ theme
    playing into another male construction
    we undermine sisters according to prescription of old ideas
    of who we are or she should be
    the monopoly of sex
    and sexuality
    is not about she

    Yes, there are women in parliament
    women in business
    women in religion
    women in decision
    yet there’s still not enough of you to make gender equality true
    violence against women makes me black and blue
    because her bruises are mine too you see
    I live in the humanity of she.

    now you may believe we have
    come out and claimed our space
    but as long as theirs a woman
    who has to fear her bodies reminder of a critical debate
    that spells power and hate
    and this is not just about rape
    its about the dictate of shape
    the dictate of the shape of your intellect
    that boob job
    the blonde, brunette
    botox baby
    she can’t run the company
    accept maybe if she’ll sleep with me
    and what about the condom fight

    around the husband’s right
    do we know how many people we are sleeping with?

    Is there a degree that can set free me from my own mentality about me
    how much academic rhetoric will destroy the disposition of
    if we haven’t discovered our unity in diversity
    gender equality won’t be a reality if you ask me

    Yes, there are women in parliament
    women in business
    women in religion
    women in decision
    yet there’s still not enough of you to make gender equality true
    violence against women makes me black and blue
    because her bruises are mine too you see
    I live in the humanity of she.

    * Khadija Heeger is a poet and lives in Cape Town South Africa

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