Home > Arts, Def Poetry, Literature, Poetry, Self Esteem, Sociology > SLIP OF THE TONGUE by Adriel Luis

SLIP OF THE TONGUE by Adriel Luis

This is an amazing poem, and his performance is even better. I can’t analyse it properly as I’m not a student of literature, I just read and appreciate what moves me, but it speaks about what and who we really are and what society tries to program us into; male, female, ethnic groups etc and the associated behaviour, quirks etc. It reminds me of Gil Scott-Heron’s History which looks at how history and language were used to actively and retro-actively sanction colonialism.

This video is a dramatisation with audio of his performance in the background (lyrics are at the end of this post):

The second, I found on the Sociological Images blog:

Last semester my colleague, Mary Christianakis, assigned her students a mash up.  The idea was to take two forms of art (loosely defined) and combine them to inspire, instead of state, a critical perspective.  Below is one of the exemplars, by her student, Samantha Figueroa.  It combines scenes from Pocahontas with a spoken word poem, Slip of the Tongue, by Adriel Luis.

Nice work, Samantha!

And the complete lyrics which were copied from this blog:

My glares burn through her.
And I’m sure that such actions aren’t foreign to her
because the essence of her beauty is, well, the essence of beauty.

And in the presence of this higher being,
the weakness of my masculinity kicks in,
causing me to personify my wannabe big-baller, shot-caller,
God’s gift to the female species with shiny suit wrapping rapping like,
“Yo, what’s crackin shorty how you livin’ what’s your sign what’s your size I dig your style, yo.”

Now, this girl was no fool.
She gives me a dirty look with the quickness like,
“Boy, you must be stupid.”
so I’m looking at myself,
“Boy, you must be stupid.”
But looking upon her I am kinda feelin’ her style.

So I try again.
But, instead of addressing her properly,
I blurt out one of my fake-ass playalistic lines like,
“Gurl, you must be a traffic ticket cuz you got fine written all over you.”
Now, she’s trying to leave and I’m trying to keep her here.
So at a final attempt, I utter,
“Gurl, what is your ethnic makeup?”

At this point, her glare was scorching through me,
and somehow she manages to make her brown eyes
resemble some kinda brown fire or something,
but there’s no snap or head movement,
no palm to face, click of tongue, middle finger,
roll of eyes, twist of lips, or girl power chant.
She just glares through me with these burning eyes
and her gaze grabs you by the throat.

She says, “Ethnic makeup?”
She says, “First of all, makeup’s just an anglicized, colonized, commodified utility
that my sisters have been programmed to consume,
forcing them to cover up their natural state
in order to imitate what another sister looks like in her natural state
because people keep telling her
that the other sister’s natural state is more beautiful
than the first sister’s natural state.
At the same time,
the other sister isn’t even in her natural state,
because she’s trying to imitate yet another sister,
so in actuality, the natural state that the first sister’s trying to imitate
wasn’t even natural in the first place.”

Now I’m thinking, “Damn, this girl’s kicking knowledge!”
But, meanwhile, she keeps spitting on it like
“Fine. I’ll tell you bout my ‘ethnic makeup.’
I wear foundation,
not that powdery shit,
I wear the foundation laid by my indigenous people.
It’s that foundation that makes it so that past being globalized,
I can still vocalize with confidence that i know where my roots are.
I wear this foundation not upon my face, but within my soul,
and I take this from my ancestors
because I’ll be damned if I’d ever let an American or European corporation
tell me what my foundation
should look like.”

I wear lipstick,
for my lips stick to the ears of men,
so they can experience in surround sound my screams of agony
with each lash of rulers, measuring tape, and scales,
as if my waistline and weight are inversely proportional to my value as a human being.
See my lips, they stick, but not together.
Rather, they flail open with flames to burn down this culture that once kept them shut.
Now, I mess with eye shadow,
but my eyes shadow over this time where you’ve gone at ends to keep me blind.
But you can’t cover my eyes, look into them.
My eyes foreshadow change.
My eyes foreshadow light.
and I’m not into hair dyeing.
but I’m here, dying, because this oppression won’t get out of my hair.
I have these highlights.
They are highlights of my past atrocities,
they form this oppression I can’t wash off.
It tangles around my mind and twists and braids me in layers,
this oppression manifests,
it’s stressing me so that even though I don’t color my hair,
in a couple of years it’ll look like I dyed it gray.
So what’s my ethnic makeup ?
I don’t have any.
Because your ethnicity isn’t something you can just make up.
And as for that crap my sisters paint on their faces, that’s not makeup, it’s make-believe.”

I can’t seem to look up at her.
and I’m sure that such actions aren’t foreign to her
because the expression on her face
shows that she knows that my mind is in a trance.

As her footsteps fade, my ego is left in crutches.
And rejection never sounded so sweet.

I would advise to watch both videos and read the poem as I have worked so hard *NOT* to get them and they are very good.

Anyway, now I’m tired. So sorry that I can’t blog on Arvind Subramanian’s FT op-ed which looks at the reason India’s economy is growing at 8.5 per cent instead of the 5 per cent seen in areas with higher levels of market friendliness (Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa). You wished I did.

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