I.Normally I sit up frontBut for this classI sit all the way in the back,In the corner.It’s hard for me to see the screenBut it keeps me out of sight& I have a good pulse of the roomIn case the spirit catches meAnd I decide to participate

This happens oftenAnd lately, I notice my professorMisunderstanding my answers,Avoiding eye contact with me,Praying someone else’s hand goes upBut no one’s hand is upAnd no one can see my hand up in the cornerShe sighs, “fine, Valencia”

All eyes turn to me,& I thought I deserved a seat in the classroombut the Brown decision is still a myth.I’m not a threatI’m a studentwho just wanted to take a shot.Statistics don’t intimidate me,I’ve been fighting not to be onemy whole life…But I guess she’s fighting harderjust to stand teaching meI hear her sigh againAnd wonder why she’s so tired of me

II.I’m getting more and moreTired of this womanSlide after slideShe guides membersOf the cohort through statisticsAs painlessly as possible

But after hearing it for the third timeIt’s finally starting to make senseThe gears are turningAnd I power through the exerciseWith my peers

The class reviews,We get to a question and the classIs quite stumpedAfter a few minutes of no responseMy hand slowly creeps into the air“Jasmine,” she says.While looking right at meAlthough Jasmine is also black,She’s on the other side of the roomAnd her hand isn’t raised.

III.I sit quietly waiting for herTo realizeShe’s confused the twoBlack women in the classAnd sit puzzled,Wondering if this is reality

After an awkward silenceShe is corrected byAnother student…The tension in the airMakes it hard to breatheshedoesn’t apologize.I guess she didn’t mean tohurt mebut her intent doesn’tinvalidate her ignorance

She asks me to speak,& like clockworkthe answers flow out of methese words are the thoughts in my head,the air in my lungs

Although it’s a guess,I think I’m on the right trackBut when I speakYou don’t hear me,You don’t even know my name

IV.After calling on otherStudents,She finds herself repeatingMy syntaxI’ve zoned out of this sessionBut I hear“Valencia was actually right”

and it snaps me out of my hazeand into a rage becauseShe doesn’t speak my language,She doesn’t understand my mind

She turned my academic sanctuaryInto a torture chamberJust by simply being in it

The original appearance of the poem is in two columns.
The original appearance of the poem is in two columns.

Top photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels

“What if we took all this anger born of righteous love and aimed it?”

—Ijeoma Olou, “We women can be anything. But can we be angry?” Medium.com

ANGER showcases essays and poetry featuring well-aimed anger from femme writers, writers of color, LGBTQIA+ writers, First Nations writers, and disabled writers.