Regarding Nina Simone’s Bad Reputation

mom black renaissance
How it pained me to see my mother
In all her grace and glory
Baited to make her angry
So she could fit into expectation
As long and lithe as Josephine Baker
As tall and muscular as Grace Jones
How you would fetish her anger
A proud black goddess magnificent
Black and magnificent was her nickname
Her bearing and conduct intimidatingly same
With a long black cape and a lovely choker
More gothic than any novel by Bram Stoker
Statuesque and dark skinned like Roxie Roker
She fought to stay whole and so no
Body broke her…
But her fight to stay whole had a price to it
A people saying she was not nice to it
Like Nina Simone, she stood moody, alone
Her mood having no artifice or device to it
My mother bemoaned her choice
A white man married two kids and divorce
My white father stealing her black voice
Black and magnificent was her nickname
She who called herself Krishna
Was one and the same
How hard it is to walk this land
A paler ghost of she…
Who holds her invisible hand
And tries to make her way through,
Win or lose…
And finds herself shod in Mama’s shoes
How thick and wide and fat I am, me
Cast inside your roles of Mammy
Escape we’d love to but, now can we?
I am too old and fat to run away
From the roles in which you have me enslaved
My mom was Krishna, I am Ska
But to your ass I look like Ma
A caricature in an Octavia Spencer movie
A nutcase like Stephen King’s Mr Toomey
I thought I was a horror writer
But it seems
I will only ever be
A sassy black woman meme
Your racism sewed up tight
Tattered at the seams
It holds up your privilege white
Makes black folks wrong
And you always right
Nina Simone is dead
but her bad reputation lives on
Bad for being a domestic violence victim
Who held her head up too long
Looked too strong
And showed too much personal
In her song
A woman done wrong
But like my Mama
She was Black
So you never see pain
Just drama

~ by Sumiko Saulson on October 4, 2019.

3 Responses to “Regarding Nina Simone’s Bad Reputation”

  1. Sumiko, I love this. Thank you for writing this.

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