A Place


One year, 5 months, 5 days, and 9 hours later, I'm hurting

Not like a little boy who just fell off his bike,

Or a teenage girl knee-deep in unreciprocated love

This pain isn't manifested as a physical wound

But I can attest to the fact that I am wounded

Not because of an act using my body, but by an act of the mind

You see, I identify with the negro soul that burns inside

Dying for the chance to love the melanated frame that carries her with unapologetic blackness

But I cannot deny that here, in this place, I have deprived myself of that freeing-kind of love.

Now before you ask me why I've denied myself this right

I wanna ask a question that will leave some of you tongue-tied

Do you know what it means to be black?

Don't answer that.

Answer instead questions of blackness in white spaces

Do you know what it's like to be a black body in white spaces?

More importantly, what it means to carry a black body in this white place?

A place that is not unmindful of the future, yet oblivious to the past

A place where professors try to explain away leaving out an entire race from their syllabi

A place where racial slurs are nothing more than party ideas and pop song words.

Where white people justify racist things by reducing me to a number, a statistic, a boost to the diversity rate.

Do you know what it's like being black in this white space?

A place where a white student can joke about being a part of the superior race

A place where I have now spent over 75% of my college experience trying to teach my white peers things that they don’t even want to hear

Where Skits and events and hear me’s cry on to deaf ears

Do you know what it’s like to not just be a student but also:

An educator, a protector, a warrior?

A place where my thoughts aren’t valued because of the mind that thinks them, the lips that speak them, the eyes that see them because of the colored face that conceals them.

A place where those with authority simultaneously build you up and break you down because it's your fault that you are too broken to be superwoman.

A place where I am nothing more than the smudge left from being vigorously erased

Do you know what it's like being black in this white space?

A place where Sally, Suzy, and Johnny refuse to actually learn my name, but instead decide that on Monday I am Ramonah, on Tuesday I am Sasha, on Wednesday I am Joelle

WHO’S WHO?

DO YOU SEE HOW STUPID THAT IS?!

ARE YOU EVEN TRYING?

OR DO YOU JUST NOT FUCKING CARE?

A place where I stand out, but only if the privileged don't deny me of my blackness, my melanation, my identity, my soul

A place where my complaints are heard when said by a white male

A place where my blackness must carve its own space.

Do you know how tiring it is?

To wear an armor each day to protect my negro soul from microaggressions and diet racism?

Do you know how tired we are?

Do you know what it's like being silently forced by the stagnant majority to hold your tongue when Tom states that poors and blacks are lower on the humanity totem pole?

I'm stuck in a place where my beautiful ebony face people don't truly appreciate because the theme of this and every week is "We don't see color, it's not a thing."

A place where I live in fear of the red pickup truck that passed me by in the quad and yelled out “Hey Nigger”

A place where I wake every morning hoping to see a better day. And then don’t.

A place where I must bob and weave on the daily for the hands that plunge inside my picked-out fro, weave, and crochet braids

A place where the people who look like me work in dhall or coop. My heroes, my inspiration, but seen as nothing more than the help.

If you are not a black woman born and raised in the American South, then no, you will never understand the depths of this hurt in my soul.

You will never know the answers to these questions as I know them

But I guarantee in this white space almost every black face knows this pain in some way.

While your head is spinning, you may be wondering why I denied myself to be unapologetically my beautiful black self.

Simply put, this white space wasn't created for me to love myself.

In fact, it was created with hate towards my black self

And she doesn't deserve to put up with this bullshit.

So I hid her

She will not be tainted because I am in love with my black self.

But in this white space, I will be my loud and proud, unapologetic black self.

Because she deserves a place in this space and dammit, I'm gonna make her one.


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