Black Girl Rising

by Keno Evol

If it is not the body being erased
It is the body being fully displayed
On a cutting board and everyone
Blaming you for your teeth. 

If it is not the black being bent
It is a world of ruling research
Telling you that your spine is too arched. 

That your mother raised her house irresponsibly
And data shows that black girls be better belonging
To brighter bones or skin. 

That the skin deserves
A clearer throat a politer poet to tell the auditorium
Of your anatomy to clap quieter this is a silent auction. 

But still dance black girl
Still twerk but only in certain houses
Still know your name even when they mispronounce it
And sallow that swelling lump in your throat
When they are trying to find an object
To remember you by and smile when they say 

“Oh, like the alcohol?”
“Oh, like my friends name with an ‘a’ at the end.” 

Do not become the friend
Because if it is not the friend it is the alcohol. 
The thing pulled out when a fun night
And new language is in order. 

And if it is not a fun night
If it is not a glass bottle
Belonging to everyone in the room
If it is not a cutting board 

If it is not work. If it is not cubical comments
Tucked beneath keyboards and tongues
And “you talk quite eloquent for a black girl” 
For a skin known to be bold only
When someone writes you that way 

But you an Audre Lorde kind of church
You much of the best things that come with the sun
or a song. 

You

The one who they gambled all of their ships on. 

You who is always an ancestor dying somewhere. 

If it is not a womb with sleeping kings. 
If it is not a queendom with wars waged
Over the nectar of your rivers. 

If it is not magical questions
If it is not 

“Oh, is that all your hair?”

If it is not

“Is that your child or nephew?” 

If it is not a poem where in it exists
An analogy of a crown or gold or follower
Then it is only because it is
Much more then those things. 

If it is not an adopted boy thinking about a queen
Somewhere in Chicago 

If it's not that then I don't know what or where it was
Before they re-wrote your story and told you
To know this language well

If it is not the tongue being allowed in the mouth
It is the mouth still trying to find a way to sing 

If it is not being able to find ones mouth,
It is looking for a language to describe the exhaustion. 

And my God 

If they don't know by now then I too will take part
In the burning of any book or building
That isn’t properly named after you. 

photo: patience sam

photo: patience sam

Keno Evol is a poet, educator, spoken­word artist, fashion designer, revolutionist, dancer and director. As a 21­-year­-old performer and teaching artist, he has been awarded grants and has competed nationally as a spoken word artist. He worked with Pillsbury House Theater as a resident teaching artist for two years, and continues resident teaching at schools in the Twin Cities. Keno is now developing curriculum for a literacy development program titled “Crack The Page. Shift The Stage” taking place in various schools in the Twin Cities, centered on utilizing Black literature, history, spoken word and hip hop culture to strengthen and develop literacy. He chooses to deliver Social Justice Education through theater and art because he believes that art cannot only teach creative and powerful practices, but also because he believes becoming conscience to injustice and the suffrage of others is the first step to fighting against it. In 2011, Keno started Dope Image Clothing with a mission to encourage social justice empowerment and communal dialogue. He has performed and taught workshops Los Angeles, San Francisco, Detroit, DC, Minneapolis, and New York.