introduction

for white boys who love my body but think my mind is immoral

You can’t keep running in and out of my life. – The Gap Band

I want to be angry. I want my rage to carry me like it hasn’t before — to break glass, and split stones with my hands. To let loose the little girl who always wanted to be a cannon. Then I remember that I am Black. Then I remember I am sick and I am a woman. Then I remember how I’ve crafted my silence into an identity I cannot accurately name. That I have relied upon my silence as an incomplete sewing kit.

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When white boys tell me that I am beautiful, they really mean they must sever my spine in order to hoist my body in the air for themselves. White boys cannot assess without theft. They’ve learned how to seize the world and not live in it.

Too many white boys have attempted to love me. They think if they can fuck me, I will understand some part of their tenderness. They think if they fuck me, I can become human like them. And I have let it happen. I have witnessed to my own death and written my own eulogy.

Here rests a woman who scared her way into heaven. Will god throw her away too?

When white boys tell me I am beautiful, they are saying I need to be tamed, that I am growing too freely. My freedom used to be called savage but modern parlance doesn’t like to allow such glaring insights into others’ feelings. Now we twist our words not realizing time can undo any bend. And white boys know they can’t safely time travel. Time traveling will reveal who they are, but I cannot be seduced by the present because I am Black and sick and a woman.

The days when I rest from stitching the torn parts of my body are the days when they call me immoral. White boys love to tell me exactly where I have fallen. They always notice when I have stopped working. When I tell them that they are cruel for noticing my movement but not my creation, they clap back and say I am mouthy. If only white boys knew how many words Black women swallow. If only they knew the lifetime’s worth of undetonated bombs that reside in our intestines. If only they knew “being Black and alive and a woman is a metaphysical dilemma” are words we can barely comprehend no less conquer. If only they considered how many times Black women have considered suicide because it’s impossible to live and choke through every moment lived.

I am choking and they have the audacity to say they love my body. Take your hands off my neck, white boy. Learn who you are and, maybe, you can help put air back into my lungs.

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I want to be angry. I want to throw the topple-the-universe tantrum I was always told not to throw because my mama said the white folks would stare. They’d stare and I’d be embarrassing us all. They’d stare and their eyes would beget all of the hatred we knew they sheltered. I want to be mad. I want to ask white boys, How dare you show up at my funeral and use the program as a fan? You haven’t earned that right. I want my body to detonate so that they can feel the fallout of 28 years of sacrifice.

My birthday is the 43rd anniversary of Hiroshima. England held all of my mothers in Its grip. I cannot willingly trust any power but my own.

I want to do it all but then remember I am Black and I am sick and I am a woman and I’ve got so much to sew together.

 

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1. Black History Month [365 project]

A friend and I decided to start a joint 365 project so that we could share our writing and make sure that we are writing something everyday. I’ll post whatever I write for each day here as well. This is my first post. Go.

A man I once loved taught me a lesson on humanity. It was:

-Alex Haley, I said, Alex Haley. The man who wrote The Autobiography of Malcolm X. The man who wrote Roots.

-Roots? The mini series with Levar Burton.

-No, not the mini series. The book that inspired the mini series.

-Roots was a book?

-Roots is one of the most important books in American history. A slave narrative as told by a Black man unlike, almost opposite to Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

-That’s not American history; that’s African American history.

-American history, I said.

We were on the phone and the quietness of breathing ensued soon after I asserted myself as an American. I proceeded to wind my racial identity (my whole self) into a carefully kept ball and acted with gentle care when around him. I loved him no less, despite what he said, but I don’t know how much of me he got to know, how much of myself I undervalued — how many of my words and thoughts and feelings were lost in consumptive silence.

He’s probably forgotten that exchange, chalked it up to a slightly embarrassing faux pas. I haven’t allowed myself to forget, haven’t been afforded to opportunity to forget. I am left with the discomfort of having loved and been loved without understanding. Left with the tender sense that the man I loved erased people who looked like me. The man I loved undercut me as a person, undercut me to a nameless being, who at best, could be handled in the margins.