A love poem to the ‘Problematic’ Black Womxn by Puleng Lange-Stewart

15 Jun 2016
A love poem to the ‘Problematic’ Black Womxn by Puleng Lange-Stewart

“A love poem to the ‘Problematic’ Black Womxn” by Puleng Lange-Stewart came third in the PEN SA Student Writing Prize. Read a Q&A with Lange-Stewart here.

A love poem to the ‘Problematic’ Black Womxn by Puleng Lange-Stewart

No. she said

Undressing her in
her sixth tongue
redressing her with
bland understandings of
which have never truly
acknowledged the
five other skins
snugly around her ability
to create meaning

Young and
Black and
Female and
quicktime translate into Aggression
belying the intricate
complexities which
weave together the
inflections of her Xhosa
intonations of her Phedi
the imperatives of her Shangane
all squeezed into the
eloquence of her English

she knows her privilege
when she speaks
words with none of the
Long Elongated
no-one else seems able to say
without (sub)consciously
making fun

asked the girl
with long natty locks
and a Biko gospel
No- Passionate
about those
uncomfortable English words
The loud ones
The impolite ones that
challenge a status quo which
keeps the other
five tongues in
flicking the one you’ll
listen to in
shapes that
conjure up images of
an abandoned revolution
the body count of monopolized
social ‘evolutions’

Aggressive? No
she says
and far less than
she should be
or could be
because look beneath you
you’re still standing on
the same land
: For Now
living lives built on stolen

“My mother was a
My father was a
That’s why I’m a
I’m a Socialist
I’m a Socialist”
she sings
And come
, please, scoff
and tisk
and click-tongues
Clutch your Pearls
at the palpable
rage of today
in the wake of a
[not even slightly] ‘Bloodless Transition
claiming casualties

And the people shall
share in the
wealth of the land
I understand how
funny this must seem
when it appears outside
a Freedom Charter theme
the practicalities of
equality were never
supposed to be so

+++at some point…
(a few generations down the line)
money will drip down
into the right hands
slipped out enough
car windows
to enough car guards
Because the
egalitarian nature of
neo-liberal capitalism
just works that way?
And privilege is
naturally inclined to
give itself up without a fight?

And then- Yes
-young black female-
Be Aggressive
Bare your teeth!
Be the bane of
polite conversation.
Ruin dinner parties,
Lecture theatres,
and all other spaces built
only to tolerate you
with the aggressive
insertion of yourself.
The wholeness of you
the blackness of you
the curve and dip and rage of you
as an extending site of struggle.
Bang at the gates.
Make them all bear witness
to the wounds
so actively unlooked at
Brandish them and say
“I have not forgotten you
and you shall not forget me
through ignoble attempts to
nullify this history”

with those uncomfortable words

Rage in all those tongues