I am in front of you, you invited me.
But do you see me?
Woman. Black. African.
I stand proudly as your diversity.
But do you see me?
I dare to raise my hand, to speak, to give my point of view,
You look towards me, politely, not to offend me
You smile slightly then ignore me.
Do you see me?
I raise my hand higher; I raise my voice higher,
I feel like a nuisance
Maybe I should stay quiet.
I should appreciate the fact that I sit in your presence
I lower my hand and lower my voice.
I am grateful for the chance
If I ruin this opportunity, I might ruin it for others
Let me be silent; Let me just learn from you; be accepted by you.
But my insides are burning up
I raise my hand again.
But you don’t see me
I raise my voice
But you don’t hear me
I raise it louder,
Now I’m screaming
Now do you hear me?
Now do you see me?
Hysterical. Out of control. Attitude is what you see.
Noise and folly is what you hear
But me… Do you see me? Do you hear me?
Bruised by life. Torn by injustice. Raped by prejudice.
Dare I lay it all bare?
Dare I let it come through?
Polished, respectful and polite is what you desire
Be Black. Be a woman. But don’t let it transpire.
So I try harder to please, not to upset you
Because you won’t invite me again if I say what burns me.
You might not like me if I say what shreds my soul.
But don’t get it wrong!
I don’t lack confidence in me. I lack confidence in you understanding me.
I can’t be who you want and still be me.
So tell me, do you see me?
You follow me but you don’t read me,
Because long ago you muted me.
Now, you’re looking to your left, then to your right.
Uneasy looking straight at the mirror,
“Surely, she’s not talking about me.
She wouldn’t even sit here had it not been for me.
Is she so ungrateful, so unappreciative of my generosity?
Does she not see all I do for diversity?”
You don’t sense my discomfort, but I sense yours
So let me put you at ease. This is not about you.
I will remain in my invisibility. Present and unseen. The torchbearer of your equality
Hoping one day, you will see me…