The Hardest Things to Say

How do you tell your parents that you don’t agree with the beliefs by which they so proudly raised you?

How do you tell your teachers the curriculum is biased and one-sided?

How do you tell your friend that their “funny” comment was insulting?

How do you tell your significant other you feel alone?

How do you say these things that weigh so heavily on your heart without destroying the life that has been building around you since birth?

You don’t want to rock the boat. Life is most enjoyable when lived peacefully. And yet, if these things are on your mind, sooner or later, they have to come out. Just because you keep your mouth and your mind on a tight leash does not mean the link won’t eventually snap—it will. That’s when things have gone too far—when you’ve stayed quiet for too long with no means of release. You think the bitterness is gone, washed from your mind over the course of time. But, these kinds of feelings can’t just disappear. They fester and grow, latching to the parts of your mind left untouched by hate and unhappiness, cluttering the things you loved most about life with their unwelcome embrace.

It’s hard to create conflict in your life, especially when it is done on purpose. But, sometimes, things just need to be said. And it’s not worth feeling bad when you are the catalyst for change.

Reality rises and falls around you like an ocean current; never ending, a constant push and pull that slowly reels you out into open waters, alone, scared, lost—free. Everyone else is drifting in their own oceans, their currents brushing against yours as they try just as hard to stay afloat. Some are born with the privilege of a raft, or a boat, or a small island to hold them above the current. But that doesn’t mean they still don’t feel the slap of the waves against every now and then, either.

Within the just parameters, it’s a good thing to be the catalyst. Say those things which are most defiant on leaving your mouth; they’re the most important words you’ll speak in your life.

What it Means to Be a Female “Colored-American”

People look at my father, and his appearance alone makes it hard for him to go unnoticed. Large, male, and, most importantly, Black. He calls attention to himself simply for the fact that his skin is dark. People look at him, and they think African-American male. For good or for bad, that label draws attention to itself. It means they either see him as a great threat, a formidable opponent, or a respected ally. Either way, he is noticed.

Then people look at me. Small, female, and Colored. Yes, my skin is brown. But it’s not “too” brown, according to society. The few people who actually look at me see me and are suddenly reluctant to place me in the African-American category; I am noticed, but not in a healthy manner. They want me to be something else, something more. They see my loose, bottle-blonde curly hair, and my light mocha skin complexion, and they think I have the potential for something else. They want me to be exotic—a word that implies that African is not exotic enough—and they want me to be beautiful—which also implies that Black is not beautiful. Insulting notions coming from a race that was literally born from my people.

And, because I am female, the bulk of my interactions with mankind rely on others perceptions of me. To most, my physical attributes are far more valuable than the mind my body encases. To them, saying that I am Black, that I am African-American, means that I am nothing more than another statistic in an overlooked subdivision of the patriarchal white America. But, to say that I am something “more,” something exotic…well, my status level would be minimally, but undoubtedly elevated in their broken, heavily misguided system. Something they—“they” being those who see themselves as the top tier of this crumbling food chain—would consider a great honor for me and my kind.

So, what does it truly mean to be a female Colored-American?

It means I can see through your shit.

I don’t want anyone’s misconceived notions about what is better, or beautiful, or below standard. I don’t need people telling me who or what I am—“You’re definitely predominantly Black, though; you’re skin is dark” “You’re still a woman, though; I’ll end up making more than you in the long run”—at all hours of the day to help boost their feeble sense of entitlement.

I am not here to be your marker against which you measure your success; I am the success.

I’d like to see any one of the small-minded individuals who constantly dish micro-aggressions to those they want to continue to perceive as below them achieve anything with the systematic oppression me and my kind face on the daily. To us, even the smallest victory feels like a war won, because that’s exactly what this is: a war. It’s not loud, like an atomic bomb exploding over Hiroshima, but it’s certainly not quiet, and it’s not discreet; but it’s happening.

Maybe the racism has picked up a notch on the side of the oppressors lately because they can feel their empire—the same empire that was built on the backs of my people—rapidly crumbling beneath their feet.

And when the playing field is eventually leveled, they will finally come to understand what an advantage their entitlement gave them.

Because me, and my kind?

We’ll be leaving them in the dust.

3:14 AM [The Void]

Am I wasting my youth?        

It’s 3:14 AM and I haven’t gotten a wink of sleep. The hot sheets are twisted around my ankles, causing just enough contact with my skin to give me comfort without enveloping me in their sweaty entrapment.

I turn on music in an attempt to sleep. It beats and thrums around me in atmospheric bliss as I try to drown my thoughts. Because, if I’m going to be honest with myself, that’s the main reason I leave my music on all night at almost full volume: to escape my roaming mind.

But nothing ever helps. My mind flies willingly to those thoughts, pulling me deeper into that dark, empty void. It doesn’t matter how emotionally, financially, or emotionally stable I’m feeling in the brightest hours of the day, because the lonely hours of the night grasp at me and drag me back to my weakest state every sleepless night.

It’s the Void.

That empty space where my mind retreats when I’m conveniently alone and feeling lost. It takes this vulnerable hour to question my motives, my dreams, my accomplishments and ask—are they worth it? Do they really mean anything?

I’ve spent my entire life learning about Plato and Socrates and many other philosophers with all their outlandish notions about existentialism and the supposed duty of man. But, no one ever taught me how to deal with these musings myself; how to fight off the darkness that invades my pores as I huddle in the recess of my mattress every night.

I can’t imagine any conscious human being able to avoid these thoughts.

But, there is always a saving grace in the end: either falling far into the void until merciful sleep hauls me back out again, or the intrusive light of the rising sun. Either would eventually snap me back into reality; a place where I know things to be true.

It’s so easy, to be afraid of what we don’t understand—especially when it comes to the mystery of our own minds. Even more so when we begin to question things larger than ourselves: the nature of the world, the meaning of life, the significance of death. It’s also easy to simply take the risk—examine the unknown and find meaning in it; at least become comfortable with the realization that we don’t have all the answers, and we never will.

I used to be afraid of these early mornings. 3:14 AM was my curse; a haunting passing of time I could never avoid, only endure. But, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to understand that it’s alright to dive into the unknown. This life isn’t made for comfort. It’s made for pain, and heartbreak, and discovery. And there’s a sort of liberation in the knowledge that we don’t know, or feel, or see, everything. It makes life an adventure, with an unlimited amount of things to uncover and explore.

Quote

Our duty is wakefulness, the fundamental condition of life itself. The unseen, the unheard, the untouchable is what weaves the fabric of our see-able universe together.

-Robin Craig Clark

Are you there?

Would I even want to talk to you if you were?

You’re so easy to reach, but I’ve never made the effort. I tell myself you wouldn’t respond. You’d think me annoying. It’s premature doubt. Something so simple. And yet, I am an unwilling participant in this active nonparticipation.

Humans were meant to be together. Without one another we wilt like flowers in the shadow of the moon. My mind understands this–it’s the reason I have the feeling of a hole growing day by day in the center of my chest, swallowing me slowly the longer I go without the sustenance of another human presence.

The Greeks had one thing right: incubi and succubi exist. They dwell in the body, waiting to be fed the nourishment of another’s soul. They’re not evil, though. Just misunderstood. They don’t always need physical contact to be fulfilled–sometimes even the lightest of conversation, or the briefest glimpse of a smile, can carry them a long way.

Even knowing this, however, my mind is crowded with the toxicity of some kind of apathy. It’s a kind of apathy that suffocates my life. This cocoon of blackness that wraps itself around my being, constantly telling me I don’t need to be present. I don’t need to be there for you, or anyone else for that matter. I’ve got my own problems to solve, the first being that it’s too hard to get out of bed most mornings.

What a selfish life I live.

My phone screen lights up with your efforts. You’re worried. But I think you have better things to think about. I turn off my phone and roll over in bed. I dream about getting up, walking out, and never coming back. I imagine the day I take what little is left of my bank account and place it all on a one-way plane ticket to someplace foreign. I’d get lost in the culture and the language. I’d sing love songs and hear beautiful poetry and laugh under the smile of a new sky. I would marvel in the life I’d been missing, holed up in my room.

It makes everything so much harder, knowing I’ll never do these things.

My hurt highlights the fact that I can’t sleep without the comfort of a heavy blanket and a pillow to hug to simulate the feel of another human body pressed against mine as I fall into a different world. It emphasizes the indentation my body has left in the center of my bed after so many hours curled up on my side, hopeless in my effort to leave. It streaks my life with black, like claw marks after a vicious attack. My hurt leaves me within inches of my life as I writhe with the ache of it tearing my fragile body apart.

I wish you’d take more effort than the internet would allow you. I wish you’d enter my depraved sanctuary with the physical body which was afforded you. I want more than just your presence in the form of pixels and blue text notes. My soul craves the food yours has to offer. You have a body, which harbors your soul.

Use it and save me.