Taylor Steele is a Brooklyn-based spoken word artist, playwright, and essayist. She received her BA from The New School, has been published by several online publications (Apogee Journal, HEArt Journal, Wicked Banshee Press, Blackberry Magazine, Rogue Agent, and many forthcoming), and is a content writer for The Body is Not an Apology. Taylor’s work has been featured on Button Poetry and The Huffington Post. She placed 5th in the 2015 Women of the World Poetry Slam and 6th in 2016. She believes in the power of art to change, shape, and heal.
Out of Body: In the Classroom
Taylor is the only Black student in the class. The class is reading Toni Morrison.
Taylor dares any of these white niggas to say “nigger.” Taylor bets her whole house and her last dollar that one of
these white niggas is gon’ turn to the Blackest page of this book and look at her like she is a rabid dog barking wildly
behind a breaking fence. They scurred.
Taylor is tired of reading good books in bad company. Tired of watching these white niggas lock their mouths behind
cages like she can’t see through the bars. Taylor is the only student in the class there on scholarship. So! Taylor is
a busted payphone on the right side of the tracks, is the abandoned house tourists visit because they’ve heard the
rumors that live inside of it. Taylor wants to scream, “No! I am real! I am a person! I have a body!”
Taylor knows these white niggas see her by looking through her. Taylor is over it. Still, Taylor says “the N word” when
“nigger” shows up in the book; keeps these white niggas from shifting uncomfortably in their seats, god forbid a
loosened splinter. Taylor wonders if god is here, if god finds the whole “Taylor’s life” thing one big joke. Taylor wants
to laugh, too. She can’t remember the last time she did when it wasn’t at her own expense.