Featured Poem: Artress Bethany White

Artress Bethany White


Everything Resides in a Name


The day the white babysitter
calls you colored, you believe
your birth parents were rainbows,
unicorns, brightly hued fairies
dancing across the television screen–
all beautiful, colorful things.

You ask if I like being called black,
a term rich in value and tincture.
I don’t mind, I say, explaining the word
is synonymous with African American,
a color awash in continental drift.

Your question, in turn, reminds me
of Alain Locke’s The New Negro
and the student who, after reading the preface
decided all blacks were Negroes again.
The label a litany through his essay I graded.

They can’t keep changing their name
insists the woman who transposes the phrase
people of color to colored people.
Her refusal to keep it straight
offensive in so many ways.

Which brings me back
to the little white boy
who called you black
on the playground today,
after pushing you roughly away.



Artress Bethany White is the winner of the 2018 Trio Award from Trio House Press for her forthcoming poetry collection, My Afmerica. She is also author of the collection Fast Fat Girls in Pink Hot Pants. Her nonfiction has recently appeared in Tupelo Quarterly and The Hopkins Review. White is currently visiting assistant professor of American cultural studies at Albright College.

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