They call me Eve I was never given a last name This was only the first case of identity theft
I know what you’ve heard about me, That I was carved out of the ribcage of a man only as an afterthought. And they told you I’d look differently
Make no mistake, they have burned down my libraries and tried their best to scorch my memory but I remember well. The sweetness of God’s breath on my neck when She whispered me into existence She told me I’d be the first of this new species she was experimenting with
There was no talk of dominion, but She did teach me a certain harmony with Lady Gaia and told me to embody her beauty so I walked tall
Wide hips and extra weight to nourish the children I would carry. And as they grew, I taught them.
Taught the young, small, weak taught them plenty. They came to my crown and asked me how to run their nations Aristotle, Plato, Socrates sucked from the supple breast of my knowledge.
Little did I know when I turned my back they’d whip slave ships into it and create this Bible that blames me for the expulsion from the Garden of Eden.
There was a snake that tempted me to leave the promise land I’m pretty sure those was your chains, guns and aggression. So was it fruit, or the middle passage that closed Eden’s gates.
This Bible that tells me childbirth is a curse and that I am the cause. Well I am sorry, Sorry that I broke my back to carry your children but if you ever dared to ask me, I’d call you the curse I’ve been called temptress, but it was you who stripped me naked. Called me slut and made me hit my knees until I knew what forbidden fruit really tasted like.
The abuse didn’t stop after Lincoln it was just heavily disguised as the media, tossing me a pair of booty shorts and tell me to sway my hips to the rhythm of lynched ancestors because it reminds racists of a better time.
They never look me in the eyes because they want me to forget I have them.
I know why they do it. They see Her image in me and fear my power. They sold me as commodity so I would forget what I was worth,
But you should have smashed my mirrors first. Did you think I couldn’t see? I am the beauty of gold embodied.
Black skin as beautiful as the galaxies they stole from my libraries but NOT from my eyes. You can keep your idealistic paintings of me But you will never bleach my skin or straighten my hair.
Forbid the drums of my native tongue But you will never quiet the lavish language of my dance I will never lose my kinks, my fight, my fire. Save your cat calls for those deserving Because I do not play with rats. You will call me Goddess or will not address me at all
“Give your daughters difficult names.
Names that command the full use of the tongue.
My name makes you want to tell me the truth.
My name does not allow me to trust anyone
who cannot pronounce it right.”
Many of my contemporaries, role models, But especially, Ancestors
Have a name that brings the tongue to worship. Names that feel like ritual in your mouth.
I don’t want a name said without pause, muttered without intention.
I am through with names that leave me unmoved. Names that leave the speaker’s mouth unscathed.
I want a name like fire, like rebellion, like my hand gripping massa’s whip—
I want a name from before the ships A name Donald Trump might choke on.
I want a name that catches you in the throat if you say it wrong and if you’re afraid to say it wrong, then I guess you should be.
I want a name only the brave can say a name that only fits right in the mouth of those who love me right, because only the brave can love me right
Assétou Xango is the name you take when you are tired of burying your jewels under thick layers of soot and self-doubt.
Assétou the light Xango the pickaxe so that people must mine your soul just to get your attention.
If you have to ask why I changed my name, it is already too far beyond your comprehension. Call me callous, but with a name like Xango I cannot afford to tread lightly. You go hard or you go home and I am centuries and ships away from any semblance of a homeland.
I am a thief’s poor bookkeeping skills way from any source of ancestry. I am blindly collecting the shattered pieces of a continent much larger than my comprehension.
I hate explaining my name to people: their eyes peering over my journal looking for a history they can rewrite
Ask me what my name means... What the fuck does your name mean Linda?
Not every word needs an English equivalent in order to have significance.
I am done folding myself up to fit your stereotype. Your black friend. Your headline. Your African Queen Meme. Your hurt feelings. Your desire to learn the rhetoric of solidarity without the practice.
I do not have time to carry your allyship.
I am trying to build a continent, A country, A home.
My name is the only thing I have that is unassimilated and I’m not even sure I can call it mine.
The body is a safeless place if you do not know its name.
Assétou is what it sounds like when you are trying to bend a syllable into a home. With shaky shudders And wind whistling through your empty,
I feel empty.
There is no safety in a name. No home in a body.
A name is honestly just a name A name is honestly just a ritual