Niela Orr

Niela Orr is a deputy editor of the Believer and the Black Mountain Institute’s inaugural Sidney and Bébé Wolf Fellow.

The Masks of Doom

Niela Orr, 21 January 2021

Paul Laurence Dunbar​’s poem ‘We Wear the Mask’ was published in 1895.

We wear the mask that grins and lies,It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes, –This debt we pay to human guile;With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,In counting all our tears and sighs?Nay, let them only see us, while   ...


Niela Orr, 3 December 2020

Late​ in the evening, early this century, Washington Square West, Philadelphia. Washington Square West overlaps an area identified by W.E.B. Du Bois in The Philadelphia Negro as the Seventh Ward, the site of many places famous in Black history: Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church; the Institute for Coloured Youth; the home of Frances E.W. Harper, one of the first Black American women to have her...

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