emotional porn (the black image industry)

our image.s.
always half.
always burning.
always welt.
always bent.
always garish.
always crawling.
always high.
always drunk.
always severed.
always flayed.
always vomiting.
always laughter laced with choking.
always chained.
always searing.
always stoic.
always monolith.
always ghetto.
always prisons.
always passive.
always stunted.

always begging.
always indifferent.
always deceit.
always vicious.
always lazy.
always sex.
always abusive.
always abused.
always slave.
always adult from birth.
always child until death.
always pain.
always servant.
always at a mercy.
always unagency.
always aggressor.
always sadness.
always sinister.
always rabid.
always grasping.
always grabbing

always razor blade.
always grotesque.
always apathetic.
always bloody.
always beast.
always body.
always regendered.
always misgendered.
always gendered.
always object.
always mammy.
always mule.
always mockery.
always accessories.
always vulgar.
always poverty.
always disgust. ing.
always whore.
always rage.
always blank.
always calculating.

always docile.
always stud.
always inept.
always killing.
always ugly.
always dumb.
always drugs.
always loathing.
always tragic.
always lurking.
always animal.
always respectable. politics.
always high white.
always fetish black.
always unpowered.
always hyperbolic.
always fear.
always on fire.
always impotent.
always destruction.
always spectacle.
always shatter.

always exacted into the perfect porn star.
to bring the world to orgasm.

 emotional porn (the black image industry), nayyirah waheed | from ‘nejma’ (via nayyirahwaheed)

(via nayyirahwaheed)

Nayyirah Waheed is a U.S. based poet who has been writing since the age of 11. Her poems deal with the reality of being black, the horrors of Western imperialism and self-love and acceptance; these different themes often interact within her homes, particularly the specific difficulty and defiance in finding self-love when the world is saying black women should feel the opposite.*

In the above poem, published in her collection Neima in 2014, she is specifically focusing on the perceptions of black people held by the wider Western consciousness.

Her repetition of the word “always” shows the fact that even though some of these racist stereotypes contradict others, they are all constantly present in the collective consciousness, regardless of the one’s currently being applied, with the change in the final line “to bring the world to orgasm” revealing the final purpose of all of these judgements while its form itself, breaking away from the steadily building pattern of repetition mirrors the contents of the line itself.

With “always disgust. ing.”and “always respectable. politics.” Waheed offers two alternate meanings within the same line, and shows both the perceptions and how they affect the person being perceived that way. They are seen with disgust and therefore disgusting; they must always try to be seen as respectable, otherwise they will seen as deserving of even less respect than the little they already have

*(There was very little biographical information available on her online; here is an interview with her (http://africaisdonesuffering.com/2013/08/nayyirah-waheed/) and her tumblr (http://nayyirahwaheed.tumblr.com/))

Katie Day

2 thoughts on “emotional porn (the black image industry)”

  1. During a discussion in my poetry class this week, my professor said that repetition is about both abundance and lack, in that there is an abundance of the word repeated and a lack of variety in words. I’m really obsessed with this idea right now and I keep trying to apply it to what I’m reading, so I’m sorry if this is a stretch. There is clearly an abundance here, both in the word always and in all of the qualities that these women are forced to embody and are projected onto their bodies. The lack comes from a lack of humanity or personality afforded to these very real people. This poem is really great in that the meaning is clear and accessible without a nuanced reading, but getting into the syntax, diction, punctuation etc, as you did, gives it extra depth. It’s very powerful in its simplicity.

    Madison

    Like

  2. I love the poem that you posted. As you discussed in your analysis, the repetition of the word ALWAYS really brings the point home that racism is a pervasive part of society. It is a poem that both brings forth emotion and a sort of dryness. This furthers her point of the intense struggle that comes with being African American, paired with the constancy and normalcy of this struggle.
    Eliza Mitnick

    Like

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