I’ve been told, on occasion, to be more tactful,
More delicate when talking about the isms of oppression.
Respectability politics is not a new phenomenon.
Mine is a drop in a great sea of experience.
There are those with pernicious motives. Those who claim
We must be respectable to be respected
Because they wish to dismiss, ignore
And continue the oppression.
I have no time for them nor do I care what they think.
The others — the well-meaning —
The ones who think they want to join the fight?
If my spoons are sufficient, I engage those I love
For their sake and for mine.
But it is exhausting to be reminded that
What they really want is
A thank you.
And all will be well.
You know, they tell me,
if you want them to listen to you,
you have to speak softer.
If you offend or scare away,
they will never help you.
I lovingly roll my eyes and shake my head.
My friend, I feel no obligation
to differ to ill-gotten power.
To beg for crumbs
does nothing to quell the pangs of hunger.
I may, of my own accord, choose diplomacy.
There are times and places and practicalities
That must be negotiated from time to time.
I know that reality far better than you.
My sisters of color and I?
Diplomacy is the flack gear that shields us
from the violence our very bodies beget.
What you really want from me
Is to make it more comfortable for you.
I’m sorry, my friend. That’s not how it works.
That comfort you crave?
That is the enemy of change.
That comfort you crave is what I’m fighting against.
That comfort you crave was bought with
bodies in the streets,
lifeless babies in the surf,
Which is why, painful as it is,
That comfort you crave
Its painful to
To stand beside the vulnerable
and the marginalized.
Its painful to see pain —
To recognize my privilege
Has been afforded by that pain.
But speaking up,
Lean into that pain.
I watch the world shifting.
I watch as the voiceless,
Slowly but intensely lay claim to their voices.
I watch as the privileged
Battle to retain their comfort
No matter the cost.
And I watch the battle escalate
and the sins of the generations
Being shouted from the rooftops.
I’m sorry, but
The cost of true discipleship
Is deep discomfort.