Forged In Darkness

I hope one day you fall for a black girl
So you can watch as she builds herself
From the bones of slave ships
And the ghosts of freedom riders
Into a mold that doesn’t fit right
Like a mannequin with missing pieces
She’s just a body
With no soul
That’s how they’ll try to justify tearing her down
That’s what they’ll whisper to themselves at night
While she swings in the distant firelight
As she suffocates
Inhaling the ashes of ancestors dead and forgotten
Because hashtags weren’t invented yet
And you’ll watch as bricks crumble and foundations cave
And she falls
And she’ll pick herself up from the rubble and she’ll start again
And she’ll not ask for help
For you have no place there

I hope one day you fall for a black girl
So you can see the disbelief in her eyes when you tell her she is beautiful
Because beauty is for white girls
And she ain’t never been no white girl
She’s never seen springtime in her own eyes
And innocence in her own hands
No she is bitter corners and twisted roots
She is strange fruit hanging in that white man’s lawn
All freak show
And no beauty
This world wasn’t made to be kind to the likes of her
The light is a fickle jealous creature
That’s why beauty forged in darkness is forged in secret

I hope one day you fall for a black girl
And you can see the power in her
That you can see that worlds were built
Civilizations were built
Upon her shoulders
So that you can see them strip the royalty from her blood
Until all that remains is a skeleton wrapped in shackles
And a sense of faded greatness
So that you can see all the doubt seared upon her soul
Because though she is strong enough,
Powerful enough, to bear the ills of the world
Is she powerful enough to shoulder her own pain?


How To Befriend a Brown Girl: Part 2

On things not to say:
“I wish my skin was a dark as yours.”
“I wish I could tan so easily.”
“You’re such a pretty color.”
“What are you? Like what are you mixed with? It’s so pretty.”
“I totally want to have mixed babies. They’re the cutest.”
Inhale. Exhale.
My brown skin is not a fashion statement.
It’s not a fad.
Why do you keep applying beauty only to aspects of my being
Like why is only my hair pretty
Or just my skin is pretty
Or just my lips are pretty
But I’m not just pretty?
Why am I only pretty because I’m mixed with something else?
Your willingness to procreate with a person of color does not get you invited to the barbecue
We are not accessories.
Brown babies are not accessories.
You can have brown friends, brown babies, good intentions and still be part of the problem
I can’t peel my skin from my body and change into something less brown
Something more comfortable
I can’t alter my soul and suppress my culture
I can’t shed my skin like a coat
So stop treating the color of my skin like some trend
I am not your ally card
I am more than your token
I am not en vogue
Loving myself isn’t avant garde
It should not be an act of war
But I will fight that battle
In hopes that one day there will be no war

How To Befriend a Brown Girl: Part 1

(working title)

On Hair:
  1. Don’t ask to touch my hair as you’re touching my hair.
  2. Don’t touch my hair.
  3. Don’t ask to touch my hair.
  4. Don’t ask if my hair is real.
  5. Don’t ask how I get my hair to look so pretty.
  6. Don’t ask what I’m mixed with because my hair is so pretty.
  7. Don’t tell me you wish you could have hair like mine.
  8. Don’t.
Your fingers in my hair without my consent or expressed permission
Is like a statement that black bodies are akin to amusement parks
That America’s history of disregarding black bodies is lost on you and will continue to be so
Chains. Whips. Water hoses. Dogs. Eurocentric ideas of beauty and now your fingers in my damn hair.
Our bodies have never been ours.
They have only been whatever you choose to make of them.
They have never merited kindness and care.
A stranger putting their hands on you without your consent
Is assault
Except when it comes to black hair and black bodies
I’m only beautiful when you’re around to see it
I’m only pretty when you’re around to tell me
Even my love for myself and my blackness is offensive to you
I can only love myself in ways that you approve.
In secret and in whispers
Because black girls are too rowdy
We’re too angry
We’re a handful
We’re too much
Too much
And not enough
I am not enough for you to view my body as my sanctuary
My hair as my glory
Not enough to prevent you from violating sacred ground
To claim for your amusement.
I am too much
And not enough
Not enough to keep your fingers out of my damn hair.

Brown Skin

Sometimes I stare at the back of my hands
At the brown skin covering my frame
And try to convince myself that
Brown is

B e a u t i f u l

But in that caramel color I see
S h a m e
A n g e r
D e s p a i r

Sometimes I stare at the back of my hands
And I am exhausted
When the weight of all I must overcome

C r a s h e s

Into my s h o u l d e r s

America was built upon the backs of ancestors I’ll never even know of
And hundreds of years later
I can’t breathe for the weight of all that I am owed

15 Ways to Know You Love Someone You Have No Right To

1. You are married to someone else.
2. You’re not even sure what love is.
3. You picture his face every time you close your eyes and the ice around your heart melts a little more each time.
4. You hear his voice in your sleep. You have memorized his laugh, his smile, the smell of his cologne. You can read between the hollow look in his eyes and that empty laugh to see the secrets he is hiding.
5. You can’t breathe when he stares into your soul because you feel so brand new beneath his gaze that you die a little when he looks away.
6. Your brain forgets what words are the moment he presses his lips to yours.
7. You lack the guilt you expected to feel after letting his eyes, his mouth, his hands roam your body.
8. He can’t even love himself but
9. No one can love without first being given love.
10. You can feel the bottom of your stomach drop down to touch your toes every time you relive the mistake you have made of him.
11. Your favorite sound is the whisper of his lips over the syllables of your name.
12. You are not afraid of the scars and red welts your misery has carved into your skin as long as he is around.
13. You are married to someone else.
14. You are married to someone else.
15. He will never love you back.

Just A Child

When I was younger,
They told me I was “just a child.”
“Why should you be sad?”
“Your life is good.”
“You’re just stubborn. Just lazy and selfish.”
“How can you be tired? You slept all day.”
“You just want attention.”
I drank it all in.
I believed it all.
No matter how hard it got
Or how long I cried for no reason
No matter how I hated to look at myself
No matter how many trails of blood I left on my skin
I would hear it all again.
You’re just being selfish.
Stop being so fucking selfish.
Suck it up. Just suck it up.

The fight to get out of bed was a real thing.
I couldn’t convince my feet to touch the floor.
I couldn’t convince my body to walk out the door.
And still I told myself, “you’re just selfish.”
Suck it up. Just suck it up.
As I watched the tears wear tracks into my skin.
Just suck it up!
As I watched sparkling red drops leave my body
And wear tracks into my arms.

Sometimes I can’t feel anything
Sometimes I feel too much
“What’s wrong,” he pleads.
“What’s wrong?! Please I need to know.”
And I look at him with eyes wide open
With golden eyes rimmed in molten tears
That I refuse to allow to fall
And I say
“Once I was a child
But I cannot remember.
Once I was a child
And they told me I was wrong.
Can you give me back my childhood?!
Can you tell them I was right?
Because I think when I locked out all the bad things
I forgot to leave room for the light.”

Why I Am An Annoying Feminist

“I’m so glad you’re not an annoying feminist,” you said.
And suddenly it clicks inside my head how much the man I have tied myself to does not know me
I suddenly see all the things you can never understand
“Of course I am a feminist.
Why aren’t you?”

When I point out all the lack of women characters in movies and books you respond by listing all the movies with bad ass women characters.
As if to say, “What more do you want?”
But a few gun toting, ass kicking women in the movies
Does not equality make.
Because I can still remember his eyes and his hands roaming my body
I can still remember his fingers questing for places
I was too young to know existed.
And I still remember his voice and the calm in his eyes as he asked me questions I was too young to answer.
I can still remember the conviction in his voice
When he explained to that child I was,
That no one would believe me.
I can still remember the pain in my chest as I realized he was right.

Because my body had developed so quickly
And the doctors treated me as an oddity
And I still remember the long drives to those Children’s Hospitals
Watching Disney movies while they drained vial after vial of my blood
And reading that damn book they gave me
To explain what was wrong with me.
It had a matching doll.
A boy with red hair.
They called him Terry Too-Soon.
It was about a boy who always did things to soon.
But they fixed him
And they wanted to fix me too.

I can still remember those male doctors
Examining parts of my body I did not want to show.
And I knew something was wrong with me
So I fought and suffered in silence.
He should not have have been able to say no one would believe me.
He should not have been so confident.

“Of course I am a feminist.
Why aren’t you?”
But look at you
Pale skinned. White male.
Oppression is not a place you have ever lived.
Fear is not for you.
You have never tasted it at the back of your throat
While you cut into your own brown skin until blood ran free.
You have never stared at your body and wished you had been born a boy.
You have never been told your life was meaningless.
Your father never had to tell you how to act when you got pulled over.
He never had to tell you to appear meek.
Keep your hands on the wheel.
No sudden movements.
Don’t give him a reason.
The world won’t care about another dead nigger.
You’ve never seen those flashing lights in your rearview and thought
“Please I don’t want to die today.”

The world has never convinced you that your body is worth nothing unless a man wants it.
You were never told that brown cannot be beautiful.
My father used to buy me black baby dolls.
Black Barbie dolls.
But I wanted nothing to do with them.
I recognized the similarities.
I saw how they looked like me.
But they weren’t the pretty dolls. With blue eyes.
With pretty straight blonde hair.
They looked like me.
Which was to say
I could never be beautiful.
You tell me I see racism where there isn’t any.
And sexism where there is not.
But honey, life ain’t no crystal stair.
“Of course I’m a feminist.
Why aren’t you?”