Black in the Ivory – #BLM Guest Post

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This writer chooses to remain anonymous; she shares: this post is written by a Black woman who is a PhD candidate in a History Department at an Ivy League institution.


Black in the Ivory

Inspired by the hashtag created by Dr. Sharde M. Davis and Joy Melody Woods

Black in the Ivory

Inspired by the thread created by Sharde M. Davis and Joy Melody Woods

They wine and dine and woo you 

Then you accept, arrive, and they forget you

Higher levels of excellence are an unspoken expectation

But not too much excellence

Or it will wound their white fragility

Black in the Ivory

They ignore and pretend and refuse to see

The ‘you don’t belong here,’ ‘you’re here because you’re Black’

The ‘that’s a great idea,’ now I’ll claim it for my own

The ‘oh that racist professor is from a different time’

And ‘oh, they’ve got tenure,’ so we’ll give a useless censure

Black in the Ivory

What do you mean we aren’t diverse? 

Have you met all the white women?

‘Do you need help with Black hair care?’ I’m Jewish so I understand

‘The Holocaust was worse than slavery,’ is this really a competition?

Can you please gloss the bullshit so we can reach our DIAP?

Black in the Ivory

‘You don’t study Black people,’ at least not in the right way

And they must know, because their anti-Blackness told them so

You mean there were Black people before Columbus?

But surely you can’t mean Egypt, because Liz was Cleopatra

And definitely not medieval, have you seen Game of Thrones?

Black in the Ivory

It’s conference time again, so they’ll have some special panels

Where academics can perform their wokeness, insulated from our hells

They’ll curate who gets called on, no difficult questions allowed

But still our panels speak our truth, refusing to be quelled

And then they ask for part 2.0, to feel better about themselves

Black in the Ivory

Did you know our department is racist?

Why didn’t you tell me sooner?

Did we enforce a punishment?

Or just one more traumatic training?

I’ll peer pressure the other whites, can I have my gold star?

Black in the Ivory

You offer lots of courses, and tout their critical lens

But let a Black student criticize your syllabus

And see how quickly you’ll be on defense

Your work is on Black people, but how many have you supervised?

You’re fine when they’re in your books, but not in front of your eyes

Black in the Ivory

It’s time to hire more professors

And DIAP means it’s called diverse, in name though not in truth

But we’ll pit that against excellence, to make sure we get our way

And add to our ranks just one more white person

They say they know their privilege, isn’t it the thought that counts?

Black in the Ivory

We band together as BIPOC, for we are all few and far between

But then the POC speak for the B, they say they know our struggle

They say we’re in this together, but they never say our name

And then we’re forced to choose

Named, alone, and visible, or lost amongst the crowd? 

Black in the Ivory

Have you seen all the protests? Change will be coming soon

Wait you don’t want symbolism? But optics are important too

Did you see my post on social? I’m woke now just like you

You say the work is just beginning? But only till Trump’s gone

Wait you mean it’s all my life? I just want my normal

Black in the Ivory

I’m beginning to see how complex it is

But can you teach me more?

It’s not as though it’s work for you

Don’t you want me to do better?

If not, no need to worry, but then the blame’s on you

Black in the Ivory

We don’t need your platitudes, and definitely not your guilt

We don’t want your check-ins, to ease your bleeding heart

We don’t want your fake committee, so you can check a box

We don’t want your protestations, that you’ll provide support

We don’t believe your tricks, because we’ve all been here before

Black in the Ivory

We the Black students will take no more, we’re done with all the waiting

Enough is enough is enough is enough, and these are our demands

Some whites are mad they couldn’t sign, and perform their allyship anew

A professor assumed we were figureheads, used for something called ‘Black-led’

And dared to use Audre to accuse us of complicity, but we are deliberate and afraid of nothing

Black in the Ivory

It doesn’t matter how many courses you’ve taken, or how many books you’ve read

It doesn’t matter what you study, or how many times you name yourself ‘ally’

It doesn’t matter how many protests you’ve been to, or how much you want to use your body

It doesn’t matter how fucking sad you are, or how woke you believe yourself to be

What matters is the anti-Blackness in your head, assuring you you’ve never done anything bad

Black in the Ivory

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