Content Warning*


Content warning:
I write about difficult shit
Like racism and homophobia
and misogyny and ableism
and chronic illness
and sexual assault
and abuse
and childbirth
and miscarriages

Content warning:
I’m going to use words like
and colonization
and appropropriation
and systemic disenfranchisement
I don’t apologize
for you feeling guilty
and realizing you’ve engaged
in the behaviors
I critique

Content warning:
I sprinkle my work with profanity
like fuck and shit and
dammit all to fucking hell
And sometimes I write/speak
in other languages
like Arabic and Spanish
and I’m not gonna
translate for you
you better listen for context
and get comfortable with
not always knowing

Content warning:
I’m Brown
and Queer
and Disabled
And more
My identity is as complex
as my life and
I code switch
I can write to your high educated
English standards
but it’s not my comfort zone
and I default back to
the straightforward

Content warning:
I know you won’t always
understand me
and that’s ok
You might have to
work at it
You might have to
challenge yourself
But mostly I just want
you to actually listen

Content warning:
I’m not speaking for you
even when I’m speaking
to you
And I’m not always
speaking to you
Sometimes you are not
my intended audience
So I’m not gonna
smooth my words
for your comfort

Content warning:
I contain multitudes
more than Whitman ever had
And you cannot box me in
hold me to your standards
Make demands upon my
or tell me how you
wish I had wrapped them

Content warning:
I speak from my soul
even when my heart
beats too fast
and I want to puke
You might get a bit
of my dinner on your shoe
along with these words

Content warning:
I’m angry and I won’t stop
because that scares you
I won’t clean up
my fucking language
Stifle my gestures
and hold my tongue
Because I need you
to get angry too

*Content warnings (often also called “trigger warnings”) are one way to preface events, readings, books etc. to let people know about things that will be talked about so they can decide if and how to engage with the work. Rarely do content warnings cause people to avoid the work or to “hear it differently” than if they were not given the warning, although people who are against their use claim this. The point of content warnings is to allow writers/artists to speak freely and fully without being censored, while also honoring that their audience may need to prepare themselves for engagement. This allows parents to decide, for example, if their young children should be present or how they might answer questions their child has afterwards. It lets people with histories of trauma know they are in a space with people who care about their feelings and aren’t going to be offended if they have to step out, or will be available to talk with them if they choose to stay and it hurts. Some people who are against warnings say it causes the audience to pre-judge the presenter, but many of us know you are judging us as soon as you see evidence of our skin color, disability, hijab scarf, accent, and more. You are already judging me, my warning is to let you know I won’t be silenced.

Find more words and art from Aaminah Shakur on their site.

Art by Brandon Smith


Posted by

artist, art historian, culture critic, editor, healer, poet, writer, a force of nature

One thought on “Content Warning*

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