Sha’Condria Sibley’s poem, “Black Woman Steps Up to Mic” is everything. And yes, that word gets used for, well, everything these days, but Sibley’s award-winning piece fits the bill.
In her poem, which she performed at the this year’s Texas Grand Slam, Sibley takes on the misconceptions and stereotypes about Black women that do little but make us feel under siege.
Sibley powerfully spits:
Black woman steps up to mic.
Black woman has a poem gestating deep inside her belly
Can feel the painful post of contraction,
Her mouth fully dilated
But Black woman is afraid to push the poem from her lips
For fear that the crowd will call her poem ugly,
It’s cries unworthy of being heard,
Or even worse, they will try to kill it.
You see, because Black woman has become accustomed to having her babies slaughtered.
Sibley later proclaims, “Black woman is even afraid to call herself Black woman too many times in this poem because she has been taught that she is too insignificant to be acknowledged.”
“As a black woman with a big name,” Sibley told Fusion she wrote the poem for “people who may have been guilty of not listening to someone based off their initial presentation.”
It’s more for the offenders than the offended, but it also serves to give strength to the offended. I hope it makes my audience think and really listen to not just a poet, but a person. And considering the dual purpose of the poem–of my nervousness as a person of color and as an artist preparing to speak–the bigger purpose was about being cognizant of people’s voices and experiences before giving them an opportunity to speak. Sometimes I wonder what would it take for mankind to realize how alike we really are. If my audience acknowledged black women’s regulated voices, great. But if they only connected with the preceding tension before exposing one’s art and self, that’s also fine. The point is to approach each other with an open mind and not to judge.
Take a look at Sibley’s powerful poem below.