superior To me

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Editor’s note: This poem is part of our #SpreadTheWord poem of the week series, featuring work by Chicago artists based on Injustice Watch reporting. This poem was inspired by Alan Mills’ commentary, Appeals court condemns humiliating mass strip search of women prisoners. For more poetry in this series, click here.

Do you feel superior when the dawn breaks/or is it only when you see me/seemingly broken by the loaded words “strip search” /an unearthing of women and our resilience

-or-

Do you feel superior when you masquerade my femininity/a womanhood you could never know/ because true power bends its knees before me – before us – before women/ yet you stand there/ a man – a woman- a thing/ adorned in /blue power/ state power/ government power/ still holding firm to the idea of weaponizing manhood/

Erica A. Ray, left, with her daughter and granddaughter.

So, I remove my shirt, my bra and the breastplate of Angela Davis wraps itself firmly around my breast, aligning her fierceness with the battle drums of my heartbeat.

I drop my pants, my panties, and the magic of Assata Shakur breaking free of bondage/ intertwines my legs/my womb a reckoning for Earth’s most prized possession “WOMAN”

I squat/cough, but find that I am upon a throne/crafted only for the nakedness of a goddess/ only you can’t see/ because you think you are superior to me. Now, I stand naked but bold/ humiliated and full of power/ worthy but ashamed/ sullen yet valuable- a reflection of humanity’s degradation of itself and a beacon of tomorrow’s possibility/ the opposite of superiority.

I am enough/ I am more/ I am brand-new

Now that you see/ Do you still feel superior…to me.

Erika A. Ray was born and raised on Chicago’s South Side. I am a mother, poet, graduate of Blackstone Institute, Lakeland College’s A.A. and culinary program.

I am just another poet, so as you can imagine / words roll off my lips easily, like the spreading of jam instead of jelly/ I am just another poet. When I write, memories of Suge in her sexy sparkly red dress flood me/ because I am sister/ A Sister Poet/ speaking for me, you, her, us, all women/ an unheard poet/ locked inside of a fearless warrior/ I am just another poet, words spilling from my pen like white excited eyes watching “Gone with the Wind”/ I am a poet/ just another poet, beautifully Black like Sydney/ profoundly majestic like Ava/ unearthly phenomenal like Maya/ I am just another poet/ draped in dreams/ dripping with an incentive for her/she/they that are brave enough to step in front of my words/ I am just another poet/ just another/ just another/ another/ poet.