Natasha T. Miller

Photography by D. Plasman

“T” Miller is a poet from Detroit. She performed her poetry at last weekend’s Traverse City Pride celebration. Like the best poets, she speaks prophetic truth with surgical precision. This is a portion of one of her creations, written in response to those who are black and gay, and who imagine that society can be graciously accepting of both.

If you tear half the label off of a jar two things happen.

1. The contents of the jar are still the contents of the jar, the label does not make it what it is, or what it is trying not to be.

2. A half labeled jar is still a labeled jar indeed: if you tear the part that says peanut off of a peanut butter jar that does not make it butter, that does not make it any less brown or any more yellow.

People with peanut allergies will still view it as a threat when they see it, still shoot it down in the middle of the road in St. Louis, in a suburb in Florida, in a Wal-Mart in Ohio, on the BART in California.

They’ll say that it was playing its music so loud that they felt their throats closing, kill it, and blame it on an allergic reaction. . . .

You might think that here is the only language that your skin speaks, but I can assure you that racism is one hell of a translator.

Old black or new black, you’re still black. Outside gay or bedroom gay, you’re still gay.

You’re still a target, you’re still one police stop away from your mother burying you on a land that killed you on purpose.

Don’t make them have to remind you that you’re still one of us.


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