Self-Portrait in Blackface by Ashanti Anderson

I am black and black underneath,

my pink lips painted the most

hollerin’est red. Bowtie so tight my throat

yodels, hat stiff as mean lady lips, teeth

crowded and white as my audience.

Hair and shoes both spit-shined,

shit grin wide, belt buckle makes

a fool of sunshine. I look nice

but these folk who pay me pay

no mind.


These folks clap for any

thing I say, for they say it’s comedy.


One day it’ll hit ‘em like a punch-

line I’m not a joke. A bit: they give

me top dollar to monologue

their wrongs. But I don’t find it funny

as I look, to paint my face the color

of my face just for show-

goers might listen,

and they still don’t.



Ashanti Anderson (she/her) is a Black Queer poet, screenwriter, and playwright. Her poetry has appeared in POETRY magazineWorld Literature TodayFoothill Journal, and elsewhere. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and winner of the 2018 Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival Poetry Contest. You can learn more about Ashanti’s previous & latest shenanigans at