I Will Not Say Nigger

Photos by Amy Olivia Pierce

The black female experience is heavily dominated by the necessity of having to navigate the spaces within and between dominant cultures. Many black and brown females are too familiar with the constant shifts that they make in behavior, language, and appearance. More often than not, these shifts are expected of them, and of nobody else, therefore situating them as 'other' within society. Additionally, mixed-race and third-culture kids are also familiar with the very specific experiences that fuel and are fueled by identity and sense of self.

I Will Not Say Nigger is a performance that explores the language and exchanges that take place between dominant and minority cultures/races, but often go unaddressed. These exchanges might take place in relationships, the workplace, or in social encounters. They are subtle, difficult to define, and are often brushed under the rug yet reveal that we are far from the post-racial society that so many insist exists. The character that you in see this piece explores the spectrum of these experiences through her mixed-race identity and shares them in through a poetic spoken and physical confessional.

I Will Not Say Nigger, an excerpt

And while I know I’ll never be good enough I sculpt myself and I make myself pale

And I pray that I become translucent enough to disappear. Doing damage beyond repair I burn and I bleach my hair and I hope that when I walk into the room full of white faces

I’m not met with something like

what are you

And I ask myself what's he see in me

and the dark-skinned lovers trace a finger down my thigh

as the same sun that burned the back of my brothers spills in across our faces and he tells me that im the perfect shade of beauty

but the light-skinned lovers trace a finger down my spine as the same sun spills in across our faces

you’re the color of cocoa

he whispers between my legs and disappears inside me

but something doesn’t feel right

because beside me

is a photo of him

at graduation

in front of his first school of choice


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