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Interview with Kyla Jenee Lacey - Poet, Activist, Writer and much more

You have probably seen Kyla Jeenee Lacey performing her poem "white privilege". If you haven't, please do it now. 4 minutes of your time well invested, I promise!

 

 

Now that you have watched it (again) you understand better why we are incredibly happy to be interviewing her and hearing more about who she is and her own feminist's recommendations and points of view. 

And because we know you will want more, make sure you vist her website, subscribe to her youtube channel and follow her on InstagramFacebook and twitter.

 

Who is Kyla Jenee Lacey?

Kyla Jenee Lacey is a cat lady who loves writing, being quippy, her momma, marijuana, telling jokes, and educating others, not necessarily in that order though.

Your performance of your poem "white privilege" has been watched hundreds of thousands of times. It was filmed 3 years ago but I am sure that during the last weeks it has been used as a didactic artistic tool. Do you feel that things have changed in that period? Are we going in the right direction (even if slower than we should) or things are getting worse in terms of antiracism?


Lol, tens of millions, but who’s counting, right, lol. I actually wrote the poem in 2014. I grew up in a pretty racially homogenous part of central Florida and was usually the only Black person in a lot of my classes and especially peer groups. So I grew up with the people this poem is about. The poem went viral last year, and again this year, and I think the response from white people has definitely been more positive than before, I think way more white people shared it this go round and had a positive response. I did not write the poem for white people to feel good or any particular way about it, I try too much to not be concerned with the opinions of those who don’t know me, but the truth is the truth, that doesn’t change, it’s people’s reception of it that does.


Obviously, if feminism is not antiracist shouldn't be called feminism at all. But how can those 2 fights better help each other, how do we all do better?


I don’t know, I don’t specifically center white women in my call to be treated like a human…..that’s their responsibility to listen, all I can do is talk. If they don’t see the logic in my statements, it doesn’t mean that logic isn’t there, it just means that they don’t quite have the vision for it, but I think you can’t expect a group of people to want to unify with you, while your foot is on their neck. Sometimes times the pain of oppression can be so crushing, that you can’t wait to pass that load onto someone else. I was born into femininity the same exact time that I was born into blackness, the two won’t and can’t be divided for me.


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And now our Feminist questionnaire identical for everyone!


What is Feminism for you?

Being vocal about my autonomy, capabilities, and boundaries…..the respect that my accomplishments are not despite my gender, but rather because of them. I don't think it needs to be labelled conventionally for it to exist and be powerful, I think just taking ownership of yourself, away from the grasps of society, and not being afraid to tell about it, is feminism on its own. 

 

Which “everyday sexism” really bothers you?


YIKES….. I have to pick?!?!?!?! The thought that in order to be loved I have to belong to someone, that my value as a woman is only connected to who comes in or out of my vagina.


Do you remember when you start identifying as a Feminist and why?


I honestly have no clue, I don’t think the transition was revolutionary, I just got tired.


Who is your biggest feminist role model?


Hmmmm Toni Morrison. Her feminism was never a thunderstorm of loudness, not that anything is wrong with that at all, but rather a quiet and continuous rain, soaking and saturating the ground. Her writing was revolutionary, even if just for no other reason than by centering black women and their stories. She showed how Black women’s perspectives were not just unique, but also universal. She wrote like the white gaze wasn’t a factor, and that can be hard for artists who depend on money from everywhere and anywhere, to just be in the comfort of their own experiences.


What is your favourite Feminist quote?


“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories, if people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” Anne Lamott

I’m not sure if that’s a feminism quote but man have I been riding that wave for a while….

Also I don’t have the exact quote, but in the Toni Morrison documentary, she mentions how she did not consider herself a writer until her third novel came out. She was always a teacher that wrote or an editor that wrote. She talked about how women have the tendency to do that, we have the tendency to be diminished and be afraid of our greatness, out loud.


What is your proud feminist victory?


They used my words in protests in different parts of the world……I think what is also interesting is that a famous rapper, asked me if I wrote that, I wonder if he would’ve asked a man that, but I always think about that, I made a work so great, that even one of the greatest questioned if I wrote it.

 

What is your feminist recommendation?

What is your feminist call of action to whoever is reading?

Stop building up men with the bricks you need to support your own foundation...

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