We Are Coming

We are coming for you.
You watch CNN while checking stocks and your email.
The water in your Keurig jumps.
The drums our ancestors played back home
Drums they played to guide kin to freedom
Drums and rhythms you stole from us
And called it rock n roll.
Our footsteps, collectively
We are coming for you.

Slowly but surely,
We rise to call.
We hear the siren.
The ancestors grab us by the ankles
Like the ocean waves rushing over your feet
Propping us up on our path
To liberation.

While you fuss over perfecting your
“Heatless top knot curls”
Lip plumping lip gloss
And self-tanning creams.
Beer pong
Muscle tees
Muscle cars
And parent monitored bank accounts at 22.
We are coming for you.

We name our babies
Adisa and Jabari
We love them hard and unteach all that you taught us.
We raise and grow
Strong, unwavering, unapologetic black children who are tired of
500 years of whiteness
And white shit.
And if you are afraid of us,
Wait til you see them.
For we are their ancestors.
And we are coming to dismantle

​The Jersey shore is racist as fuck. 
Though some might find the 50s and 60s era retro buildings, signage and music charming, it is a time capsule for antiblackness.
The boardwalk is full of black music and shirts with AAVE, but the shop owners are not black. The hotel owners are not black. The rental shops are not black owned. 
I’ve so far counted seven or so lawn signs that say, “We support our police because they put their lives on the line every day”.
I’ve seen a woman wearing a Blue Lives Matter shirt. 
There was a moment of silence at exactly 11:00am where everyone stopped, laid their hands across their hearts and sang the Star Spangled Banner with a recording of Kelly Pickler. It felt like a twilight zone, like a sci-fi flick where all the people are oblivious to their programming. (Check your calendar, this is not an American holiday weekend.)
And all of this boils down to me feeling uncomfortable as fuck. 
I came here because where the ocean meets the land is where the energy from my ancestors is strongest. I think a lot about them there. I feel most peaceful and powerful there. So I guess its fitting that white American fuckery lies just beyond where my ancestors speak to me. They hold me close and fill me with enough strength and power to wade through.

Amends to An Afro

Dear Hair,

I think that one of the steps of a 12 step program is to make amends to those who were on the receiving end of your wrongdoings. So here I am, writing a letter to my hair.

It’s been 11 years since a chemical straightener has been applied to you. The last decade with you has been an incredibly liberating journey of self-love, self-pride, and self-discovery. I’m sorry for all of the abuse I’ve dealt out.

I’m sorry for hating you. I’m sorry that when I was six I begged and begged my mom to throw a perm on you and fully expecting you to stretch to long lengths. I’m sorry that a year later, when I contracted ringworm and lost 60% of my hair, I begged her again to perm my hair because being bald AND nappy would just make my life even more miserable.

I apologize for tying you to my scalp with synthetic hair. I know the plastic strangled you, made it hard for you to absorb what little moisturizer I applied to you.

I’m sorry for shaming you and wishing I had long, water and brush slick hair like my sister. I’m sorry I didn’t appreciate you for you.

I’m sorry for tying the same tired weave to you week after week in middle school. I’m also sorry about that time when some asshole turned off the lights in the locker room in 7th grade and snatched a bit of you from my scalp.

I want to apologize to you for blow drying you to death. No, I really, really apologize for applying blow dryers and combing through the most tightly coiled parts of you with a fine-tooth comb attached to a searing hot blow dryer I’m sorry to have not respected you and to have tried to forcefully separate you from your kin.

I am sorry.

I celebrate you today.  I am proud of the growth that we have made. You’ve taught me how to love myself and to love you. I am grateful that you have shown me how beautiful you can be when I just leave you alone.

I thank you.

Thank you for showing me how to love myself and my hair and for teaching me how to love you and to love and to help other women love themselves and the hair on their heads. I also think back when I see bits of you on the head of my son. In the event that he or a child I might have in the future, has hair like mine I hope to help them having self-love and awareness of the divineness of kinky coiled hair and that they won’t find themselves someday writing a letter of apology to their hair.

Love you.


Men Are Brothers Wherever They Go

A woman stood near the door on a train.
Full figured
Pink dress.
A man stood opposite of her.

She stood, waiting as the train chugged along.
She stood, beside me, as I sat.

He called to her.
Asked her name.
Told her his.

You fine, you know.
I like your shoes, you know.
Can I get your number?

I’m married.

Tell your husband I love you
Just from the look of you, I love you.
If you ain’t have him, you’d like me more than him.
Tell your husband I love you.

I sat next to her.
I wanted to tap her warm brown hand
Wrapped around the pole for stability
Ask her, “you okay, sis?”
But I was scared.
Frozen to silence
That somehow me asking if she was okay
Would make me not okay
That he would be threatened
By our sisterhood
And hurt us both.

So I said nothing.
She pretended she couldn’t hear him
His words
His comments about her body
And her husband

His name was Robert
And I let him take our sisterhood.

He exited the train.
I saw a man sitting behind where he had stood
Who heard the whole thing
And chuckled at the one-sided exchange.
He found humor in her discomfort.

Men are brothers wherever they go.


I am tired of black women being asked
Or expected to forgive.
I am tired of black women crying over their
Boyfriends husbands baby daddies
Girlfriends wives
Sons daughters
Brothers sisters
Whose beauty and resilience and strength
Incites fear in those who pale in comparison.
We are always left to pick up the pieces
Left holding baskets full of sadness and pain
Otherwise as empty as the souls of those who
From arms
From wombs
From lands
From the living.
Left to clean up
Shattered glass
Pools of blood
Broken spirits
Fractured communities
And wiping the wet cheeks of children who have questions we can’t answer.
Full of pain and regret
And still asked to give.
We give our flesh
We give our children.
And you want forgiveness too?


I can’t save you.
I grew you
Fed you
Taught you
Loved you
Protected you from
The neighbor’s dog
Cars in parking lots
By locking doors
Putting scissors up high and behind closed doors
Locking medicine cabinets
And I cannot save you.

My love is not enough.
My passion is not enough.
My fear and anger
Are not enough.
My hands are tied.
I scream to you
To stay safe
To remember what I’ve taught you
But there is nothing that
Either of us can do
When your fate rests in someone else’s hands
And how kind and merciful they chose to be
With the life I gave you.

I Remember

We played together.
Drank from the same breast.
Danced together.
We shared toys and work and became women

We came together.
You stood in front of me, led the way
As they made us walk for miles and miles.
You held my hand and hummed familiar songs to soothe me.

We were lost together.
Our tongues were bound
As our wrists and ankles were.
We swallowed languages that are not ours.
We were stripped of our sisterhood.
Of our goddesses.
Of our father’s names.

You were violated and grew sugar
Yet were not allowed to taste it
As if its sweetness would set you free.
I was violated and grew cotton
Its thorns begged for my blood
As if there was nothing I could keep for myself.

You cooked and danced and sang.
You crafted a secret religion inside of the one they stuffed in your belly.
A man had you and planted
Something new
Someone new
A little this, a little that and Home.

I had winter.
I held to my heart the lies I was told about myself
Erasing what we knew to be true.
I thought freedom would come to me when it came to them
And I was wrong.
I lost everyone.
I lost myself.

Now, here we are.
Standing together, so many years later.
You learn the language they taught me
And I can understand your words.
I can’t really make out my face in yours, unless I squint real hard.
I can’t really remember where we came from
But if you hold my hand,
And I listen really hard,
I can hear that song you used to hum.
I remember the melody and
I join in.
We do it

The Light

​We park at McDonalds. 

My husband gets out and slams the door. 

The sound makes a little person in the car parked next to mine appear. 

She pops her little head up. 

Her big, full brown butter afro bounces after her smiling face is in place smiling at me.

Her smile is like the sun.

Her smile and her eyes wipe away all of my pain and sadness.

She knows none.

She is loved.

She is love.

“Hello!”, she exclaims.

She smiles again and I notice one little dimple on her right cheek. 

My spirit reflects her light. 

I smile my biggest smile, involuntarily. 

“Well, hello to you!”

She beams.

My son, who just said hello to a dozen people in the grocery store and had 3 return it is in the backseat.

He asks about her, who she is. 

What she is saying.

I want to show him to her

And her to him

And watch them 

Make their reflected light multiply.

I thought maybe it would shift the world.

She was magic

And grace.

And a bit of the stars.

I hope she knows. 

I hope she always knows.


Yesterday was a rough day. And then I got word that Muhammad Ali died.

This morning my husband asked me if I had heard, as the news came out after he had gone to bed. He saw I had posted a photo on Facebook and said, “Of course you knew.” Because for this woman, one who is no fan of sports and actually despises boxing, Muhammad Ali has always been my favorite athlete.

I remember watching footage of him as a kid. His burnt honey skin seemed to jump out like Technicolor in black and white images and old video reels. He danced and pranced around the ring, he was the king of trash talkers. Which, I always wondered, is it trash talking if its true? If he tells you that he the greatest and that he’s gonna whoop your ass and then actually whoops your ass, is it not just him telling the truth?

As a kid watching him when my dad watched documentaries or old fights, I’d stare in awe. Lord, was he handsome. He was tall and big and powerful and strong. He was a jokester. And when he said he was pretty, well, he didn’t lie about that either.

As I got older, I learned more about him, aside from the celebrity. I hesitate to call it activism. Activists often fight for causes, the masses, the many, but I feel like Ali moreso stood firmly grounded in his own truth. He was passionate and unwavering in his objection of the war in Vietnam. He was unbreakable.

He was a profoundly unapologetic; of his blackness, is religion, his denouncing of white supremacy. As we remember him today and into the future, I hope and pray that we remember Ali wholly, and not hold onto an ideal memory of him being palatable for America. A few years ago, he received the Liberty Medal; 40 years after his freedom and liberty were stolen from him. He carried the torch in the Olympic games, the same contest on which he won an Olympic medal for the United States of America and upon returning home was denied service in a restaurant thanks to Jim Crow laws.

Someone once explained to me the process of preparing a Muslim body for burial. Quite ritualistic, the washing, wrapping, and prayers over the body are quite a way to say goodbye to his vessel as his spirit moves on to Paradise. I imagine that the ancestors have been waiting quite some time to get a good look at this enigma to see just how one man, who was larger than life, devoted father, partner and friend, can float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.

Muhammad and his daughter, Maryum. 1978


Muhammad Ali
January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016

For Austyn and Dani

You are striking
To those who know what to look for
For those who know beauty when they see it.
Your round cheeks, lips, nose and forehead
Show that you are full of life
And light
And love
Your sweet eyes
Darker than night
Shine like a lone star in a calm, empty sky.
Your skin,
Warm and brown,
Rich like the earth,
Is an etched love letter from the sun.

I hope you always feel so free and beautiful in a pink dress.
I hope you are able to move through life with your chin up and commanding the respect you deserve.
And most of all, I hope you are able to look at other deeply brown girls, feel pride and uplift them.

May you find sisterhood.
May it save you from the world.
May it exist to save you from yourself.