Volume 17:4, Fall 2016
Michelle Obama’s Easter Dress Speaks
What’s it to you if she wears me more than once?
More than twice? Three times?
She likes me. The First Lady of the United States
of America likes me. Do you know how hard it is
to get a repeat gig ‘round here? There’s not one imposter
in her closet. They all in there braggin’
they “one-of-a-kind” but you know that tho’.
Know they names better than her degrees.
They designer too. From Princeton and Harvard,
not Gurung, Feith, Kors or Wu.
If you must write her as worst or best dressed,
least give her a red carpet to walk on
cause she regal. Got no June Cleaver
hidden in her hips. No back to cave
to your critiques.
She don’t get dressed to make silence look pretty.
Silence costs too much in shades of brown.
Why her bare shoulders offend you?
Don’t you know women with definition
ain’t never scared to show they muscle?
And her bloodline’s got too much labor in it
to adorn herself with anything but strength.
Why you always comparing her to Jackie O?
Like the title she carries is some knock-off,
dangling too tacky from her bare arms.
Hanging yo’ stale compliments ‘round her neck
as if they are the finest of borrowed pearls,
as if all the character she owns
was handcrafted by Jackie herself.
You. You score First Ladies high only when
they smile wide enough, consent to baking
their way to the White House with Family
Circle Magazine, wear “wife” like a vintage garment
best worn in the kitchen.
Michelle ain’t the help.
Don’t have one apron to wear no how.
You see grace on her dark skin and call it dingy.
See power of heritage wrapped in the feminine and call it mismatched.
Well, you can keep your too small set of assumptions.
Mattafact, fuck you and the rest of your nosey friends!
Where I’m from we all just happy to hang near her spine,
hug to the contour of her words, sway to the fabric
of the smartest woman we know. The curve of her courage
is always in season, always makes a dress like me look good.
But we know your headlines turn tabloid
So when they start to sayin’ her skirt’s too short,
the wrong color or just right, we in her closet
will comfort ourselves knowing
she a grown ass woman, been dressin’ herself
her entire life and never once needed permission.
The Dolezal Affect
dear rachel you know
your people have history
dressing in our things
calling it a good time
or Hallow’s eve
or a team mascot
or a discovered land
or a reality show called history
or whatever y’all not calling
your whiteness today
rachel your people have a habit
tricking the trust out of us
your people have a habit
bending brutalities into
I’m here to help you
you helped yourself
didn’t you rachel
colored your self
right into a community’s
other side of the fence
painted your skin
with your own shade
braided your hair
with a twisted heritage
picked up at half price
shoved your personal blend of blackness
in the face of every mirror that dare
call you racist
you know rachel
Vogue thinks you wear our pretty
better than we do rachel
your brand of blackness
is the only costume jewelry
this country ever wears without shame
I think I get it rachel
my people know erasure
when we see it rachel
my people know the robbery
of white wash
you tried to erase
your own white wash
didn’t you rachel
took a reserved seat
in the “colored” section
just to prove you weren’t invisible
we see you rachel
all loud and covered up in your privilege
we see you rachel
speaking on our behalf without our permission
we see you rachel picking up the habit
laying your well-intentioned hands
on Blackness to be used to be possessed
just like your people rachel
just like ‘em
Camisha L. Jones believes it’s her job as a writer and spoken word artist to break silences, oppose oppression, and build community. Her work is informed by a background leading anti-bias programs, community service initiatives, and arts ministry. Jones represented Virginia at the 2013 National Poetry Slam with Slam Richmond. Her poems can be found in Rogue Agent, pluck!, Unfolding the Soul of Black Deaf Expressions, The Deaf Poetry Society, Typo, and The Quarry, Split This Rock’s social justice poetry database. She is currently Managing Director at Split This Rock, a national non-profit that cultivates, teaches, and celebrates poetry that bears witness to injustice and provokes social change.