White fragility

I’m replaying our conversation in my head
and I’m kicking myself for not being
ready with a polished argument
witty comeback or snappy rejoinder.

I made the mistake of thinking
you’d understand because we share
many values and opinions
about refugees, education and the environment.

It’s ironic really because you’re the person
who just introduced me to the term
white fragility 
and then casually insisted

when I articulated why I don’t
usually write about race or identity
that it has shaped me and informs
everything about me.

I’m gagged — I can’t tell you
that you’re missing the point
because that’s the point —
I’m afraid this boat will capsize

and my want will drown you.
My truth will flood your gates
and my voice wash away
your kindness.

I’ve been trained to put
your feelings first
to be a good sport
and go along with the joke —

if you’re imitating my accent
belittling my knowledge
or singling out my colour
it means you like me.

Indrani Perera


Indrani Perera is a poet, publisher of the Pocketry Almanack (www.pocketry.com.au) and a maker of useful things. She is the author of Defenestration (Ginninderra Press 1997), Pas De Deux (Ginninderra Press 2019) and the hand-bound, limited edition chapbook, Wild Heart (2019). You can find her at http://www.indraniperera.com and on Instagram @indraniperera.

© 2021