In honor of the Nerds of Color Lit Week, I wanted to share a piece called “Supa Soul Sista.” I wrote and performed it with Turiya Autry and our poetry duo Good Sista/Bad Sista a few years ago.
We wrote it because we are both unabashed nerds. And we are also both Black feminist poets, professors and activist/organizers. As many folks reading this blog know, this mix can cause a bigger explosion than a warp core breach in the matter/anti-matter containment unit on the Starship Enterprise. Often there are no images of anyone who looks like us in comics or in sci-fi, and those folks who do are not authentic representations, but are often more ideas of what white male writers think Black women are.
Luckily, we not only had each other, we had our pens and a stage. So we used those resources to answer back to the prevailing white maleness in comics specifically, and sci-fi in general. So we decided to use that to not only tell folks about themselves (sorry, Luke Skywalker, had to call you out!), but to create our own superheroes. We wanted to claim the courageous ways people of color in general, and Black women specifically, have acted as superheroes historically and currently, from Harriet Tubman on down to the sista who won’t let white folks touch her afro on the bus.
These are our Supa Soul Sistas, and we think they are more badass than Spidey and Supes put together.
Supa Soul Sistas
by Good Sista/Bad Sista
I always wanted to be
a superhero marvel comic book character,
action-packed thrill a minute type of girl,
just hug my curves and hold your breath!
But I’d do it with a twist,
cause I didn’t want to be no Wonder Woman or Bionic Woman,
definitely didn’t want to be the Invisible Woman…
Shit, I did that every day!
No, I wanted to be a black female super hero,
kicking ass and looking damn good.
I wanted to be
from the X-Men:
command the elements with a single thought,
shake entire continents with my wrath
and quiet the fiercest monsoons.
I used to wish to be Storm
so when some stupid muthafucka
why I was so angry,
my eyes would widen with the awesome power
I would raise my hands above my head,
power pulsating in between my fingertips,
the sky would darken and rumble my answer,
and then from the bowels of the clouds,
a lightning bolt would flash
and shoot him in the ass!
Aah…yeah that was a bad ass sista!
Then the movie came out,
and my idol was…
Oh hell no,
Come on now!
Storm was a goddess, worshipped by entire villages,
but she’s going to get her ass whipped by a toad with a sticky tongue?
And Halle Berry does NOT have the thighs to be Storm!
Look at the comics,
sista has some shonuff black girl thighs,
(thighs for days!)
But of course for the movie they had to put her on some
jazzercise thin and trim routine.
I knew then that no known image of black women,
created by white men
could satisfy my longing to be a superhero.
I would have to figure it out for myself.
I would have to make myself over into…
the Supa Souuuuuuuulllllll Sista!
the white man will not be saving the universe this time:
not Willis, not Schwarzeneger, not Skywalker
(“But Uncle Owen I wanted to go to Tashi and get some power converters”)
the next superhero is a sista,
and not the generic ratings are going down/we need something to perk up the show/ safeway select of superheroes/generic brand of freedom fighter.
No, this will be a sista
who can fly above the chains of ignorance
and whip out the tongue lashing of a life time:
“You think you know me?
I call upon the forces of Isis and Harriet Tubman
Sojourner Truth and Neferriti
Assata Shakur and Cleopatra
to reign down the fury of centuries of oppression,
degradation and silence on your head,
because we will not be silent anymore,
and with the voice of a hundred million
sistas moaning across the bloody pages of history,
oh you bout to feel my rage!”
I have the power to resurrect the past,
train it like a pit bull
and sic it on your ass!
Or maybe my power would be held captive,
trapped like an angry storm cloud whipping out of my head.
My hair would rise up like a cobra’s hood,
spitting venom and the pent up frustration
of not good enough, not straight enough
and you can touch it if you want to,
but I can’t be responsible for the consequences.
I will be responsible for
conquering corporate dominance with a smackdown,
ending racial profiling with a swift crackdown,
coming soon to a theater
in your town!
Then I will tap into my special super empathy powered third eye…
Damn, girl, that ain’t a power. That’s just simple common sense.
You right! Every black woman, action figure or not,
comes equipped with that option.
This shit won’t be televised
cause the networks can’t handle this much angry black woman juice
but it will be in your face!
We don’t need syndication to open a can of whup ass
five times a week,
and twice on Sundays.
Take that for slavery,
and that’s for segregation,
and that’s for integration,
that’s for the glass ceiling,
that’s for me getting caught up in this corporate matrix
where I am still Aunt Jemima
talking bout “have a cookie and you’ll feel better, Neo!”
And this is for my not ever being able to find
or my hair care products at the corner store.
Forget the wonder twins!
We’re the thunder twins
Knocked that smirk right off the face of patriarchy!
Rewrote history and started my own galaxy
beyond the Silver Surfer’s reach
cause you know he be trying to gentrify it
and no we ain’t letting you in to fuck up this new solar system too!
And hell no
the chief of police can’t page us with a strobe light
like an afro pick
shining on the night’s sky.
Charlie won’t be on the intercom,
and if he pages us,
tell him we’ve decided to stop moonlighting
we’ve come down to earth
and pawned our wings for weaponry.
And you’ll be captivated by our graceful motions
as we kick the asses of Judge Sabo, Pete Wilson, George Bush
(first and second),
Giuliani, Charlton Heston
(Chuck, let my people go!),
and every great white hope that ever arose,
we will whoop them like we was Muhammad Ali,
and we sting like a bee with a personal vendetta on ya,
like you said something about it’s momma:
“I tossled with an alligator
wrestled with a whale
and threw thunder in jail!”
instant replay that shit
so I can watch it again!
And don’t even think about trying to get some
cause we ain’t Clark Kent
and you ain’t no Lois Lane
(and definitely not the other way around)
and if you persist,
we will unfurl a fury of afro swipes
Black Belt Jones “Enter the Dragon” style
Cause we are
Super Sooooouuullll Sistas
just found your way
onto the bad side of our hair.
- The Making of “Spaced Out” or, How I Learned to Subvert Mainstream Sci-Fi to a Beat (thenerdsofcolor.org)