Epistle to J. Cole

When I write, I paint with words,
assembling the verbal from the visual
to create and translate the sights
from my eyes and my mind
into verse and line – but this time,
I need to refine my visions into rhyme
and simple sentences to dispense to you
some understanding and truth. Point one:

I am artistic, and autistic. I have been
the first since I was twelve, and
the second since birth. I live
upon this earth a different life than most –
shall I break it down for you? Engrossed
in worlds of words, ecstatic and dramatic,
I became a fanatic of poetry –

because its cadence made sense to me,
because its heartbeat beckoned to me,
because its DNA cradles our human history,
and because the ancients built its bones from
hyperbole, story, mythology, and
philosophies of the human heart for which
degrees are not required to understand. This
is how I speak. I find your rhymes weak,

which leads me to point two. I need
no card carrying rights to wear my brown skin.
My kin and forebears were every color
of God’s human rainbow, but I am a sista:
I lack the hips but not the lips, and
my curly crown made of coiled brown wonder
will always give me away. So, I weigh
your words — I, the autistic sista
and fellow wielder of words – and consider

how such ignorance continues to astound.
Your profound lyrics are only insults which result
from a lack of wisdom and understanding. I am
demanding no apologies, but I will not be one.
You’ve never met an autistic black person? Well,
now you’ve seen one. I understand
that you now may be stunned,
but I hope that this poem helps you glean one
more piece of knowledge: yes, we do

exist. We’ve stood up to insult and fist,
covered ourselves in the dark of corners,
pulled down night as a veil over ourselves
and our souls, played roles –
even worn the mask of which another black bard spoke –
until we found our hope: someone to gaze
right through our crystal bellies and tell us
that they see circuits weaving themselves together
inside our double-helix amino acid construction
and that these, too, were lovely. Now, for
point three –

I leave you to consider the blindfold
you slip unnoticed over the eyes of your listeners,
woven from your derision that will occlude
their vision and prevent them from seeing
the truth: we are neither stereotypes,
nor a distant reality. In the meantime,
I pray that your mentality does not spread
to infect and wreck minds, unchecked. Every
artist holds a golden lamp, a sacred torch
to burn — I also pray that you learn
a greater wisdom: how to wield wisely
what you possess.

Written 7/17/13
© 2013 Nicole Nicholson. All Rights Reserved.

This was written in response to offensive lyrics by J. Cole in the middle of a song by Drake called “Jodeci Freestyle”. The lyrics are as follows:

“I’m artistic you n***** is autistic retarded”

J. Cole seems to be unaware of the presence of African-American autistics, and for double-points, also has decided to use a merely descriptive term as an insult to slam his competition. This is not only damaging to Black autistics, but lyrics like these only serve to further hinder autism awareness in the black community. Not to mention, such lyrics give the connotation that autistic is a bad thing to be.

While discussing this on Twitter, Deborah French of Awe In Autism suggested to both me and Russell Lehman (@AutisticPoet) to write a poem to counter his ignorance. Thus, this is my offering. I hope I might be able to school a brotha — or if nothing else, school others within the sound of his voice.

Of course, I have more to say about this (on my Woman With Asperger’s blog).


7/22/13 UPDATE: J. Cole has apologized for the offending lyrics. You can find his apology on his blog post here: J. Cole’s Apology


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About ravenswingpoetry

I am a 38 year old writer from Columbus, OH and the creator of Raven's Wing Poetry. I am a poet, seeker, fellow traveler, and autistic.
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5 Responses to Epistle to J. Cole

  1. Mishon says:

    Simply beautiful!

  2. Briane Pagel says:

    This might be the best poem I have ever read, and I’d say that even if I had no idea what autism was. Oh my God are you talented.

  3. Thank you Briane. I’m really glad to see you say that. If part of what my poetry does is educate and promote awareness and understand, I’m happy about that. 🙂


  4. Thank you! I wanted to reach out and help him understand. I don’t normally write in this style but I really wanted to challenge myself and at the same time speak to what had happened. Thank you for stopping by.


  5. Pingback: Listen to my Appearance on “The Poetic Travels on the Autism Highway” Radio Show | Raven's Wing Poetry

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