I went to a concert where Ntozake Shange was reading. There, everything exploded for me. She was speaking a language that I knew — in the deepest parts of me — existed, and that I had ignored in my own feminist studies and even in my own writing. What Ntosake caught in me is the realization that in my development as a poet, I have, in many ways, denied the voice of my brown mother— the brown in me. I have acclimated to the sound of a white language which, as my father represents it, does not speak to the emotions in my poems — emotions which stem from the love of my mother.
The reading was agitating. Made me uncomfortable. Threw me into a week-long terror of how deeply I was affected. I felt that I had to start all over again. That I turned only to the perceptions of
white middle-class women to speak for me and all women. I am shocked by my own ignorance.