When the White Male Compliments My Voice
By Jasmin Nicole
White male tells me my authoritative Black female voice is more powerful than his when shouting food orders for pick up.
I’m a barista,
My job is to let customers know when their food is ready,
White male says everyone listens to my authoritative Black female voice.
That everyone always hears me and comes as soon as I say their name.
White male says he wishes he had a voice like authoritative Black female so everyone would listen when he speaks.
But White male whispered the other day and the wind stopped blowing so everyone could hear the softness of his breath.
Black authoritative female broke open her windpipe and they turned up the volume on their lives.
But White male says it’s a good thing to have authoritative Black female voice,
That this voice reverberates like an earthquake’s vibrations,
Says it’s a good thing that this voice can always be deciphered as an earthquake even when it’s just a crashing wave or a wind chime…
White male begs authoritative Black female voice for the secret to its booming sound,
While polishing his new microphone crafted from Black female’s vocal chords,
White male murmurs something about no one ever listening to him,
And everyone in the room prepares his mouth for a red carpet,
Can repeat his words,
Everyone in the room nods in agreement,
Everyone in the room glares at me when I don’t,
And my authoritative Black female voice is disrespected,
Is labeled aggressive,
Rooted in anger and frustration,
When they shout over this authoritative Black female voice and tell it to hush,
Say they found it on the Richter scale and are sick of all the fault lines disrupted with its tongue,
Sick of all the White people rebuilding their homes because they dared tempt an aftershock out of it,
Because White male is fading into the background.
White male claims he is the background.
Claims the floorboards,
Claims the fly on the wall,
While authoritative Black female voice claims thin air,
Claims the microphone White male is speaking into but nobody believes that,
White cis male owns that microphone,
White cis male wished for a voice like a natural disaster and crafted himself this,
So that when he speaks,
Authoritative Black female voice is
Jasmin Nicole is a Black, queer poet from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She’s been writing poetry since the age of seven and now writes as a means of shouting at the world without straining her voice. She represented the Philadelphia Fuze Poetry Slam in the Individual World Poetry Slam 2016 and is currently working on her English degree.