Writer, professor at prestigious university, fifties
WHITE MEN 1–20
Men are all wearing some kind of suit
Liminal spaces of airports and airplanes
The Narrator speaks to the Audience.
I’m here—not as I—
but as we—
a representative of my category—
The approximately 8 percent of the U.S. population known as Black women.
Within this category, there are a lot of names for me. In fact, Hortense Spillers, a Black woman and friend to all Black women, said,
Let’s face it. I am a marked woman, but not everybody knows my name.
“Peaches” and “Brown Sugar,” “Sapphire” and “Earth Mother,” “Aunty,” “Granny,”
“God’s Holy Fool,” a “Miss Ebony First,” or “Black Woman at the Podium.”
Ultimately, whatever name you use, all of them begin with the letter n.
Neighbor could be one. Nominal one. Miss Named another. Miss Nomer.
Now, what are you thinking? All that was another century?
Any other day besides today?
Today, behind me, are representatives of the other category.
You’ve joined us here in our liminal space, a space neither here nor there,
a space full of imaginative possibilities,
a space we move through on our way to other places,
and I want to tell you how I came to have
with white men.
Because yet again, we’re going to have to swerve for some white man, at some time,
and I’m thinking back,
trying to remember when it actually occurred to me
that I should be talking to them,
given the impact of their fantasies,
or is it their actions,
or is it . . . given the reality of our lives?
And since our present moment is never an accident but a choice,
I’ll begin a while back—
WHITE MAN 8
What number are you?
I was standing in one of those Southwest airport lines
where you’re organized numerically,
apparently the fastest way to board a plane for non-first-class travel.