I want you to tell me how I taste. How I taste when you cannibalize me. When you turn my body into flesh, mind into profit, (I)mage into proof.
I want you to tell me how I taste after you eat away at my energy and leave bones on my plate. When your bites turn my trauma into workshops and your tongue silences mine to make a degree.
How. Do. I . Taste?
Do I taste like “shame,” that runs vile on your lips? Like “di-ver-si-ty” work done without pay? Like “o-pres-sion”?
Or is it currency that you taste? The worth of my body swashing through your mouth, proving sustenance for generations and generations of white bodies needing to be educated through my pain.
And when you eat me do you stop to hear my pleas? To hear me say:
I’m tired of my experiences being central to my peers’ understanding of a course.
I’m tired of coaching you through race — of finding the text for you to read, the videos for you to watch, of providing you with the knowledge that YOU SHOULD ALREADY HAVE.”
I’m tired of feeling as if I’m not doing enough when it’s Bates that’s not doing enough. Bates that is not speaking enough. Bates that is not caring enough about my body outside of the monetary value it may bring.”
I want to know if you stop eating long enough to hear me wonder if this is what anti-racist work looks like? To follow students around campus under the guise of campus safety? To form equity groups reliant on the work of students of color? To reform departments, but preserve jobs? To only address race when it’s relevant to the college’s image?
I want to know why is it that my work is never done? Why do you feel as if bite after bite after bite that there will always be more to be eaten?
But most of all I want to know what you will do with my flesh when there is nothing left to eat, and all that is left is to give me my degree, a receipt of the field in which you ate me.
The body(ies) between your teeth
I’ve attempted to write this note multiple times, trying to squeeze in what this letter means, its importance, and etc. But the simplest way to put it is that “Bites on My Body” is not only a collection of my experiences as a student of color at Bates College, but also my experiences as a Black and queer individual living in a nation with a history of colonialism, erasure, and slavery.
It’s meant to note that it is impossible to exist in this space in any fashion — student, educator — without the sensation of cannibalism; the taking of the body, the consuming of flesh, and Bates making it their own. My letter is a collection of the works that came before me, works written by Black scholars, students, and people all coming together to say that we are tired.