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Slip of the tongue

February 7, 2009

Here’s a spoken word poem by Adriel Luis. It’ about how gender –femininity– is constructed and imposed on women (specifically, non-white females in the US):

“…makeup’s just an anglicized, colonized, commodified utility that my sisters have been programmed to consume, forcing them to cover up their natural state in order to imitate what another sister looks like in her natural state because people keep telling her that the other sister’s natural state is more beautiful than the first sister’s natural state. At the same time, the other sister isn’t even in her natural state, because she’s trying to imitate yet another sister, so in actuality, the natural state that the first sister’s trying to imitate wasn’t even natural in the first place.”

This reminds me of queer theory and how genders can be thought of as copies; copies with no original. It’s also interesting to hear the feelings of the guy who’s hitting on her: “…in the presence of this higher being, the weakness of my masculinity kicks in, causing me to personify my wannabe big-baller, shot-caller, God’s gift to the female species…

Transcription, found here, after the cut.

Slip of the Tongue by Adriel Luis

My glares burn through her.
And I’m sure that such actions aren’t foreign to her
because the essence of her beauty is, well, the essence of beauty.

And in the presence of this higher being,
the weakness of my masculinity kicks in,
causing me to personify my wannabe big-baller, shot-caller,
God’s gift to the female species with shiny suit wrapping rapping like,
“Yo, what’s crackin shorty how you livin’ what’s your sign what’s your size I dig your style, yo.”

Now, this girl was no fool.
She gives me a dirty look with the quickness like,
“Boy, you must be stupid.”
so I’m looking at myself,
“Boy, you must be stupid.”
But looking upon her I am kinda feelin’ her style.

So I try again.
But, instead of addressing her properly,
I blurt out one of my fake-ass playalistic lines like,
“Gurl, you must be a traffic ticket cuz you got fine written all over you.”
Now, she’s trying to leave and I’m trying to keep her here.
So at a final attempt, I utter,
“Gurl, what is your ethnic makeup?”

At this point, her glare was scorching through me,
and somehow she manages to make her brown eyes
resemble some kinda brown fire or something,
but there’s no snap or head moement,
no palm to face, click of tongue, middle finger,
roll of eyes, twist of lips, or girl power chant.
She just glares through me with these burning eyes
and her gaze grabs you by the throat.

She says, “Ethnic makeup?”
She says, “First of all, makeup’s just an anglicized, colonized, commodified utility
that my sisters have been programmed to consume,
forcing them to cover up their natural state
in order to imitate what another sister looks like in her natural state
because people keep telling her
that the other sister’s natural state is more beautiful
than the first sister’s natural state.
At the same time,
the other sister isn’t even in her natural state,
because she’s trying to imitate yet another sister,
so in actuality, the natural state that the first sister’s trying to imitate
wasn’t even natural in the first place.”

Now I’m thinking, “Damn, this girl’s kicking knowledge!”
But, meanwhile, she keeps spitting on it like
“Fine. I’ll tell you bout my ‘ethnic makeup.’
I wear foundation,
not that powdery shit,
I wear the foundation laid by my indigenous people.
It’s that foundation that makes it so that past being globalized,
I can still vocalize with confidence that i know where my roots are.
I wear this foundation not upon my face, but within my soul,
and I take this from my ancestors
because I’ll be damned if I’d ever let an American or European corporation
tell me what my foundation
should look like.”

I wear lipstick,
for my lips stick to the ears of men,
so they can experience in surround sound my screams of agony
with each lash of rulers, measuring tape, and scales,
as if my waistline and weight are inversely propotional to my value as a human being.
See my lips, they stick, but not together.
Rather, they flail open with flames to burn down this culture that once kept them shut.
Now, I mess with eye shadow,
but my eyes shadow over this time where you’ve gone at ends to keep me blind.
But you can’t cover my eyes, look into them.
My eyes foreshadow change.
My eyes foreshadow light.
and I’m not into hair dyeing.
but I’m here, dying, because this oppression won’t get out of my hair.
I have these highlights.
They are highlights of my past atrocities,
they form this oppression I can’t wash off.
It tangles around my mind and twists and braids me in layers,
this oppression manifests,
it’s stressing me so that even though I don’t color my hair,
in a couple of years it’ll look like I dyed it gray.
So what’s my ethnic makeup ?
I don’t have any.
Because your ethnicity isn’t something you can just make up.
And as for that crap my sisters paint on their faces, that’s not makeup, it’s make-believe.”

I can’t seem to look up at her.
and I’m sure that such actions aren’t foreign to her
because the expression on her face
shows that she knows that my mind is in a trance.

As her footsteps fade, my ego is left in crutches.
And rejection never sounded so sweet.

—————————————————————–

* “For Butler, ‘successful’ genders are those that cite other earlier examples. Thus we learn to become men and women and to be recognized as such by copying other examples. (…) if gender is always an artifice that copies something else, then all gender is a reuse of familiar stereotypes (…). All gender is drag.” — Wilchins, Riki. Genderqueer: Voices from beyond the sexual binary.”

2 Comments leave one →
  1. mizzmusic permalink
    March 28, 2009 12:18 am

    wow, that was deep

  2. joaquinjack permalink
    September 18, 2009 4:21 pm

    All gender is drag.

    I LOVE that. This is going to be a new philosophy of mine.

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