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The jester

Here is another unpublished poem written in 2022. I submitted this to a graduate counseling newsletter. I was one year away from graduating from my doctoral program. The purpose of the submittal was the newsletter's claim that it wanted submissions for their theme "the art of advocacy." I submitted this poem about performative activism. It later came back with the feedback that the submission needed more clarity about what I was talking about. I thought that was interesting because if these evaluators truly understood the premise of performative activism, the poem is clear.

Additionally, with diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives and programs at companies, organizations, and schools being under fire in the past year or so, this poem remains relevant today. McKinsey and Company (2022) described DEI initiatives in a nutshell as fostering a positive work culture that is inclusive of diverse people. The workplace is representative of individuals who are different regarding race, ethnicity, gender, ability, sexual orientation, neurodiversity, etc. Equity is based on the fair treatment of the people in these environments pertaining to policies, practices, and norms. It also considers an individual's unique circumstances to personalize treatment to create equality. Lastly, inclusion is "how the workforce experiences the workplace and the degree to which organizations embrace all employees and enable them to make meaningful contributions" (McKinsey and Company, 2022, para 5).

From my personal take, I never expected DEI initiatives to be a long-term fixture in companies, organizations, and schools. I did not believe leadership in these places understood the purpose of DEI initiatives or wanted to allow any representation of DEI at their tables. My analogy: Representatives of DEI initiatives were invited to enter the backyard, not the house. Meanwhile, there was a sign covered by weeds on the backyard's fence to read, Beware of the Vicious Dog. That's what we're seeing and hearing now. The vicious dog has been let loose to chase DEI out of the backyard. But, it's always been there waiting to be let loose.

Jester with colorful outfit
Jester with colorful outfit

Those in leadership roles at these companies, organizations, and schools were performative with their activism to take a time of chaos (i.e., political and societal unrest) to garner good publicity, to perpetrate compassion for vulnerable and underserved populations, and to gain misguided appreciation from Black and brown communities. Their calculated efforts resulted in increased profits/funds from philanthropic donors and historically dependable large spenders who consistently spend lots of money on entertainment, clothing, hair care and beauty supplies, and technology.

In my poem, the jester is anyone who operates in a performative role regarding activism for personal gain and to exploit others' pain and misfortune. How might you interpret what this poem is saying? Does anything specific resonate with you? Is there any confusion? Feel free to comment below or to share.

The Jester

A jester performs for the throne.

To riotous laughter, cheers, and claps.

A smiling puppet who entertains,

Dancing, singing, whatever gains praise.

For the rich, poor, commoners, whomever pays.

The powerful waves their hand.

Time stops, cause be damned.

The jester is dragged from center stage.

Crowd silent, who remains?

Next act, center stage.

More laughs, claps, my dismay.

My heart bleeds, as I pray.

This life, no downplay.

Death watches in its crimson cloak, Visible, a warning to most.

I stand in silence to watch the show,

They shucking and jiving, like I do not know.

The powerful, these clowns,

Dancing, singing, and performing,

That’s their only care. My stomach emits a loud, thunderous growl.

Those like me glance my way.

The others look with a scowl.

The monster, it rakes and claws to escape.

This animal, my being, I free you this day.



Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I am a clinical mental health counselor and an educator. I have been in private practice for almost a decade. During this time, I have encountered hundreds of individuals to listen to their narratives and to help them heal in some way. Additionally, I have my own story. I hope to weave takeaways and lessons learned over the years from these interactions and from my personal life into informative and thought- provoking posts. 

Let the posts
come to you.

Thanks for submitting!

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