HomePast work Public Address Soapbox tour

Date: Nov 2015
Commission partner: Apples and Snakes
Description: Keisha was one of eight poets picked for a national wide tour celebrating the soapbox.


Keisha worked with creative mentor, Hannah Salt, to write Trans-Rachel. A poem that explores the idea of trans-racial identities inspired by Rachel Dolezal. Using verbatim lines from a series of interviews, Keisha imagined what it would be like for her to embody the trans-racial story as a black woman.



(Inspired by vertabim lines from Rachel Dolezal interviews)

I’ve had a lot of people ask “Are you black or white?”

This is not a costume

I don’t know spiritually and metaphysically

How this goes

But I do know that from my earliest memories

I’ve had an awareness and an connection

With the white experience

It’s not something that I can put on and take off

And no I’m not confused

I think the world might be but I am not

I’ve had a lot of people ask “Are you black or white?”

From age five I was drawing self-portraits

with the peach crayon instead of the brown one

and with long blonde locks

In my family I’ve been socially conditioned to not own those ideas

They resisted my want to express myself

The people who raised me are both black

I know that but

There has definitely been some creative non-fiction

There are no medical witnesses to my birth

Honestly I never saw a picture of my “mum” when she was pregnant

I’ve had a lot of people ask “Are you black or white”

And I identify as white

Then they’ll say “So are you Caucasian?”

I wouldn’t say I am Caucasian

But I would say I am white

There is a huge difference

I’ve really gone there with the experience

I’m the mother of two white sons

(Yes I adopted them)

But you ask them the same question

They said racially I am human and culturally I am white

I’ve always wanted to wait for my sons to be adults

Before publically discussing the complexity of my identity

It is a shame that it was thrust upon me

I was right in the middle of an interview for the news

One second I’m explaining my stance on immigration

The next the guy whips out a picture of my dad and asks if he’s an immigrant

I said “No, he is British” and then he asked if he is White British

I just didn’t understand the question

I’ve done a lot of research and a lot of studying

I just feel like I didn’t mislead anybody

I’ve always had a connection with whiteness as an aesthetic

I’ve definitely experimented with my hair

I used to practise on my Barbie doll

Then fantasise about how I would

Look when I grew up to be a white woman

I’ve had lot of people ask “Are you black or white”

And I identify as white

Then they’ll ask “But when are you going back to being black?”

Or “What will happen if you get rejected by the white community?”

But this is about me being me

I understand that many white women are enraged

Yes my husband is Caucasian

Some might say that I’ve stolen one of their good men

But they don’t know me

They don’t know what I’ve walked through

And how hard it is

I can honestly say that I feel white guilt

You know I am just an innocent woman

Trying to raise her two white sons

Some people judge me because of my choices

They assume that I prefer the white race

Over any other, they think I’m racist

That is so oppressive

I can honestly say that

I have never knowingly exploited my privilege

I’ve had a lot of people ask “Are you black or white”

And I identify as white

I definitely am not black

Nothing about being black describes what I am

I am more white than I am black

I’ve had a lot of people ask “Are you black or white”

And no matter how many times I reply

It just doesn’t seem to be working

Whenever I cook something it gets labelled as ethnic

And my friends still describe my fashion as urban

Too often people put their hands in my hair just to see how it feels

Or to check if it is real

And when I roll my eyes they says I don’t need to have so much attitude

In the clubs I get a lot of attention

Too many girls think that I can teach them how to twerk

I think the most annoying was when

I got stopped by the police

I was like “I’m sorry officer but you must be confused

I actually identify as white so you really don’t need to bother”

But it just didn’t seem to work

He asked me to get out of my car

So he could sniff my breath

And then he asked me are you “black or white”

I identify as white

People ask if I change my complexion

It’s quite simple

I just stay out of the sun as much as I can

I certainly don’t use anything with hydroquinone

I only ever used healthy skin lighteners

The ones that are medically certified in Japan

Some days I might use a paler foundation

And I always make sure my house is quite cool in temperature

I don’t need any blood rushing to my skin

You know I’ve really had to go there with the experience

I’m just trying to celebrate myself

The word disguise has been put out there

But that is hurtful

It sounds intentional and constructed

But this is just how I feel beautiful

I just want to feel beautiful