They chose to stay silent to the injustice.
This did not mean that they did not fight. It simply meant that they chose different ways too express it. They were deliberate with every choice of clothing and in every discussion that was held next to soft pillows and heavily starched blankets. Their largest and most memorable protest was their begrudged looks in solemn orgies that represented the empowerment they thought they were getting when they crossed into the homeland of coloniser. Their body was ogled, drooled and barked at with desperate eyes and violent hands. They were meat. They were always porn in the game of unpaid labour and exploitation.
We were always meant to take control. Our body was meant to be hard, big and ready to take power, although historically we were forced to submit with hard-knocked knees.
They looked at me once that night; I stared at them- begging them to leave.
They stayed long enough to hold the taste of the sweat dripping down the room into their opened mouth.
They were a medium sized fish in a small pond. They liked it like that. Here on European soil they could be seen and praised as the diva to watch. They were all diva and no hustler, the years smiling and pleasing had made them hesitant. They had forgotten their voice. They were tired to say the least, they had tried to fight, they had left their home with one mission, become better that what you saw.
Dream in your imagination, believe in yourself but the white streets dirtied their black skin and they began to believe the lie. They believed they were the dirty one. They saw themselves as the blemish and disgrace. An ironic twist on a city built on their forced ancestral labour.
That’s what you call them, where we are from. We heard it all lives, on the streets, in the classroom, in our home. I never liked the word. They spoke it at every turn. I could not see why they gravitated towards uttering this ghastly word. I was witness to every overlooked rabbit hole of childhood cuts and bruises, they masked with a gruesome grin.
They always looked at the first meaning and thus the notion that they were a collection of sticks that created fire and heat did not speak to them but rather haunted the space of their living life. The forgotten secrets of bypassed history.
They tried to take form and they tried to be loved for it. Everyday they looked at themselves and said ‘TODAY WILL BE THE DAY’ and then 24 hours would pass and they would try again. This was the same for every host. Yet I was certain that no one tried with such gumption each time. At award season, they would get most improved and I would get nothing, they never paid me any mind. All I got was a look in the mirror before bedtime and once before leaving the house. They did not know I was there. It was hard to imagine they could be any other way.
They were a God THAT refused to be a man, they never had any role models- so they envisioned themselves as free as Scarlett O’Hara. Running around in the wind, never looking back but always scared to look forward.
The system does that to you, slowing bleeding and calling you every word in the dictionary but your own name.
I tried to warn them but I was too late. They were too far-gone and I was too impatient. They needed to know for themselves and I wanted to find a new reflection, I wanted freedom.
I began painting my nails a different colour to theirs and changing my laces, they were never in view but needed to be tied. Finally I made the biggest jump. I changed my eyes.
I turned them purple, a startling difference to our natural hue of chocolate brown. They paid no mind to me. They did not notice me anymore. I was just another thing to worry about so they forget me. I was like the brown in our eyes, wet, sticky and mouldable. They saw themselves like this, changing with every glance and appreciative stare.
They will love me.
They never did.
They had learnt the bias of new land and thus saw themselves and us as dirty whereas I saw the architecture it could build. I was the colour of mud. I saw strength, I saw its properties not its qualities. I saw our history. Finally I changed my perspective to the colour of the abyss, like the oceans depth and the night sky above. I became infinite in generosity and mysterious unless closely inspected. I would stare at them, daring them to see. The reflection of them was no longer present.
I was proudly everything they had turned their back on.
I was black, the colour of everything.
I was no longer their copy. I was my own. I had taken their thoughts and made a reflection that appeared like freedom but different since it was materialised and tangible. It was no longer a discussion, it was an action, and it was mine. It was not something that could appear on a small silver screen.
They had stopped seeing me. I was there because I needed to be. They did not see me as alive, they did not see themselves. I was witnessing what everyone saw from afar, a person trying to find their way.
I was the reflection that dreamt another dream. They failed to see the change because in their eyes, they still had no name, no place- only disgrace.
BLAME was the only constant they had.
LOVE was inconsistent and irregular. It lived in the faces of t drooling men in long weeds, naked and proud and hunting with desire in their eyes and gluttony and fetishisation on their minds. The summer breeze blew them towards us. I passed into a shadow, a ripple that made no sound.
There was no pity. It was not a shame. Only regret. I could not bring them with me because I could not bring them to themselves, so I packed my bags and caught the first midnight train to Georgia and I never saw them again. They were left without a reflection and I was left without a host.
I found a better life along the hilltops and pleasant sounds of blowing dreams. I had flashes of their life, hit me once every moon cycle and I saw them stare at the empty space I had once filled. They did not notice the difference but I was happy I did.