Often I find myself at odds with Black men or white women because both are always asking me to sacrifice a part of myself for their liberation. And no one ever wants to include queer folk. And I realized I am the only one fighting for the whole of me…
I felt this.
Britteney Black Rose Kapri is an award-winning poet and teaching artist based in Chicago. Her brand is unapologetic, unbridled honesty in free verse. You want to talk about liberation or Black folks or women, but you don’t want to talk about the intersections within those groups, then you can’t sit with Kapri. And your definition of freedom is insufficient compared to hers.
In October, an essay I wrote about the invisibility of Black women and Black femmes in liberation movements was published in a book anthology titled Outside In: Voices From the Margins. I wrote the piece because I was tired of men and women like me being absent from or afterthoughts to our history and culture. Outside of Academia, Kapri is one artist working to center marginalized and layered identities.
Her experience living in the margin within the margins in Chicago is the backdrop to many of her stories. The city with all its complexities is home, and that means more than where a woman simply resides. The way Kapri talks about Chicago is inspired as much by the delightful moments, as by the disappointing ones, and the ones that could demolish the spirit. Her poetry doesn’t shy away from heavy. It’s just another part of the story, another part of home, another part of life. Her piece, “We House,” published to the Poetry Foundation website, illustrates this point well. In it, she writes, “[H]ouse, as in … where your inhibitions go to rest…. as in the Godfather himself teaching you how to pray with a beat…. as in Black Panther. as in lit candles and airbrushed RIP T-shirts for that kid down the way. and that other kid. and that other kid….as in every week you live Black you’re served a last supper….as in Chicago is my kind of town, unless I can see the niggas….as in we ain’t going no where. as in we gone dance anyway. as in home is where the House plays.”
It’s real life, the sobering and the celebrated parts.
Kapri is a self-described shit talker. And, like the greats before her — Ida B. Wells Barnett, Nina Simone, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde — Kapri’s audacity in words and rhythm is her activism. Her debut work, Black Queer Hoe, is an anthology of poems and tweets, chiefly about liberation and Black women’s sexuality. In “the day my nudes leak,” Kapri— a bad, fat Black Bitch, got her foot on our necks.
Here’s an excerpt:
LOOK AT THIS FAT BITCH
marvel at me. take it all in.
make me famous.
ain’t no victim here. no shame.
just good lighting
and a fuckable face.
Raw, irreverent, aggressive. Femme. I live.
Another piece, “tindr,” keeps this same empowered energy. Kapri writes,
….spent the past twenty-nine years working on being the best version of myself, which means loving the worst versions of myself. ain’t no shrew to be tamed, ain’t no horse to be broke, ain’t no Hoe to be housewifed. i be all this and i ain’t gone stop. i got my own house, my own car, work two jobs, imma bad Bitch. But if you call me Bitch, i’ll skin you.
If you had to sum up Kapri’s worldview using one of her quotes, I think “[e]mbarrassing white folks and fuckboys is my American pastime,” would be it. She draws strength from being real, honest. Her expression of that honesty is brash and sometimes profane. But it’s effervescent, it feels alive. It feels like offense. Kapri won’t abide misogyny and homophobia in exchange for racial advancement. She won’t abide gender solidarity with White women whose feminism isn’t intersectional. Kapri and her artist-activist contemporaries saw voids in mainstream liberation movements and made a lane for themselves, their ideas. And we are listening.
So that invisibility I wrote about? It’s lifting.