Letter to White Women from Pen + Brush In Print No. 3

One of my favorite photos from Pen + Brush’s writing events is of Celine Aenlle-Rocha reading at the launch of Pen + Brush In Print Number 3 on June 20, 2019. Celine’s pink hair matches the pink cover of the edition (you can’t see this, in the photo, but when you take a look at the issue her work appears in, the match is clear), and slightly over one shoulder is a photograph by Miora Rajaonary, a Madagascar-born photographer who shot a series of works depicting women wearing the lamba, a traditional garment of Malagasy society (you can learn more about Rajaonary’s work here). Hanta, the subject of the photograph, seems to be watching the younger woman speak. Celine’s writing is informed by her Black, Cuban, and Indigenous foremothers, and the work she creates drawing on their voices and experiences touched many of us in the audience that night.

The piece Celine is reading in the picture is a prose-poem called “Letter to White Women: June 8th, 2018.” It is, as I explained in my editor’s note, an angry piece to start an issue about anger. While all the voices in that issue are powerful, I have returned to Celine’s words the most since the issue came out, words that demand white women do more, and do it better. It is a piece that does what art so memorably is meant to do: comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.

Previously, this piece has not been available on our site, but on June 8, 2020, we are making Celine’s letter from June 8, 2018 available to the public in full at the link. We hope you can make time to read it.