Black Girl Lost



I look at the pictures

I see

afro puff pigtails: her innocence, her take-over-the-world attitude

tucked in some overall denim blues and Reebok classic shoes

a little black girl in her own little black girl world

she is confident

she is fearless

she is loved

but time has passed and so has she

rest In peace little black girl

rest eternally

I look at the woman before me

I see

her weary big brown eyes with lines

aged with disappointment and distrust

her too tight dress because tight isn’t tight enough

her half smile, her crooked mask

so crooked, it’s falling

she’s falling


she is vulnerable

she is doubtful

but she is still loved

the mirror uncovers the lies

she tries and she tries

to cover up

but her dress is too small and her mask

too big

unveiling for all to see

the things she wish she could’ve hid

she longs for her

the little girl

the little kid

and her Afro puff pigtail attitude

as her mind suffocates from her grown lady wig

oh how we play pretend

when the grown woman wants to be a little girl again

this grown woman, playing with real life and make-up and men

can’t wait to grow up and be a kid


Learning to Cope with Blackness by Mariah Williams


I felt heavy most days I went to work. Being Black in corporate America requires one to wear a cloak of confidence and protection just to make it through the day, even the simplest of tasks. The idea of double consciousness has always weighed pretty heavily on me, especially because I’ve routinely been immersed in hegemonic White spaces where the smile I wore did not always reflect what I was thinking or feeling on the inside. I learned at an early age that many people within these spaces, both Black and White, were not always willing to talk about the messiness of race, class and gender, and would rather avoid the uneasiness those topics aroused altogether. I also learned that getting my daily dose of pro-Black conversation would have to come from Black co-workers at Happy Hours or group chats with close friends and not from the workplace.

The fact is, I’m Black, and I state that proudly. But, at any given point in my life, I could walk down the street, be perceived as a threat, wear the wrong clothes, make a sudden movement and my life could be in jeopardy. My White co-workers didn’t see that. To them, I was the articulate Black girl, the one who did well for herself despite being raised by a single mother. To them, I failed to represent the stereotypes of Blackness in this country. I was safe to them, but unfortunately, the privilege their white skin afforded them would always be a threat to me and those who looked like me.

I’ve always had a good understanding of the game I had to play to be successful, but as any Black person knows, it’s beyond tiring, and on days where I wake up to yet another Black body being gunned down by law enforcement, I feel heavy. Extremely heavy. And as much as I hate to admit it, hopeless. Not because I don’t think things will change or because I take the work of my ancestral freedom fighters for granted, but because I am preparing to walk into a place where my co-workers will talk about arbitrary news events to spark conversation or a local bar they visited, and make no mention of what’s happening to Black people in this country, people who look exactly like me. I realize it’s probably naïve of me to expect them to say anything and I don’t really know why I’m surprised, but it’s still an awful feeling to be silenced and to go unseen, to be expected to deal with conditions most people would find unbearable. But, I bite my tongue, because that’s what we are taught to do.

Instead, I want to call out and say the reason for my absence is simple: tired from being Black. I’d say, “I’ll see you all when America starts to acknowledge and value my humanity”.  Truth is, I’d probably never go back if I had to wait on that.

I struggle with juggling the two worlds, even after 24 years of doing it. I imagine that most Black people do. Be it in corporate America or predominantly White universities, the feeling of otherness pulls us down like an anchor. Luckily, I have friends and family outside of work who get it and who are willing to be my soundboard whenever I need it, but I imagine there are people who have no such thing, who have no way of filling their cups back up after long days of feigned smiles and exaggerated laughter with co-workers who are oblivious to what their White privilege affords them.

I don’t pretend to have the solution to how spaces marred by White hegemony can work to acknowledge the experiences of being “the other.”

I simply know that I’m am tired of feeling drained from the battle that comes from being Black in this country and being forced to endure, to get over it and to let it go.

For those of us who have felt trapped in a world where we are unseen and unheard and sometimes even pretend to be someone we are not because we can’t talk about the ties we have to people like Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin or Tamir Rice, I encourage us to seek out where we can find these communities. The reality is, our workplaces are unlikely to change in the ways we need them to, or if they do, they will adopt the superficial front of diversity and inclusion that most places do these days. Even though they will promote being open, there will never truly be a space to express the realities of the “other” experience.

Breaking the vicious cycle of otherness and lessening the load hegemony brings is a riddle I’ve not yet solved, but I will continue to seek outlets to make this Black life I’m living a bit easier, and I encourage others to do the same.

pictureMariah Williams is a graduate student at VCU pursing a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning. She enjoys reading, writing and is passionate about social justice issues within the Black community. She loves her Black and  her magic and wants to become an urban planner who works with women of color to develop cultural and inclusive spaces within neighborhoods and cities.

I Had to Remind Myself



I had to remind myself






You have to do that sometimes

You have to do that when

The world knocks you down

to your feet and

Knocks the wind out of you

As if you don’t deserve to breathe


It stole my soul


Missing: Myself

Last Seen: Forgetting

Who the fuck she was


My search started with a mirror

I was so scared and it was so clear

I knew


I knew that I was


Than I gave myself credit for.


I had to remind myself






I had to rescind the transaction

After I sold myself out

You have to do that sometimes

You have to do that when

Counterfeit money gets caught up in

Your register


I died

and then I was revived when

The mirror told me


Who the fuck I am

Help a Sista Help a Sista

“Unfortunately, history has shown us that [sisterhood] must be learned, when it should be natural.” — Josephine Baker

JJ Jendayi Johnson 2

Jendayi Johnson


Today, my mom and I ran into a man at the mall. In conversation, he brought  up his daughter. His face lit up when he spoke of her.

My face lit up when his face lit up. I was loving this father’s love.

“She just finished up at University of Virginia and now she’s headed to New York for graduate school.” Jendayi Johnson, his daughter, is headed to Columbia in the fall to study speech-language pathology. Her studies have been inspired by her grandmother, who suffered a stroke and lost most of her speaking ability.

While the doctor was claiming defeat, alleging that Jendayi’s grandmother may never speak again, the speech pathologist was working to prove otherwise. After months of working with the speech pathologist, Jendayi’s grandmother was speaking whole sentences.

How sweet a feeling it is when we prove doubt and defeat wrong.

Unfortunately, Jendayi herself has dealt with a great deal of doubt from others and even from herself. “When I was accepted into college, I was told that I only got in because I was Black,” she explained on her Just Jobs scholarship page. She went on to talk about overheard conversations demeaning Black students and minimizing the validity of their accomplishments. After internalizing all of this, she, like many students, developed Impostor Syndrome, or an inability to accept personal success and achievement. People who experience Impostor Syndrome often fear that they should not be where they are in life and aren’t as capable as their peers.

It’s easy to feel like an impostor as a black woman in higher education. In many spaces of higher education, we are limited or even non-existent. Nonetheless, our presence in these spaces is needed and well overdue. Many black women miss opportunities for higher education, not because we are incapable, but rather, because we are unsupported.


Its when I reached out to a UVA student via Facebook when I first got accepted into my master’s program and she took time out her busy schedule to talk to me before I even got there, came over and gave me a 3 hour pep talk the night I moved to Charlottesville and afterwards, became a lifelong friend and role model.

Its when a dean at my undergraduate alma mater, University of Richmond, supported me when I was threatened and had property vandalized for the words I wrote in the school newspaper, from the moment it happened to the police hearing, which she attended with me. She continued to support me well after it was all said and done.

Its when a retired philanthropist decided to sow seeds through me and pay for me to travel in order to work with marginalized girls throughout Virginia and beyond before ever meeting me in person.

There were way more than three black women who helped pave the way for me. Now, its Jendayi’s turn. She needs way more than that to help support her vision as well.

“Receiving my degree will allow me to prove everyone that thought that I didn’t have the ability to succeed wrong. More importantly, it would be the first step of many towards achieving my goal of fortifying my clients’ abilities to communicate their thoughts, opinions, and desires and continuing on the trajectory that other Black scholars that came before me created,” Jendayi asserted.

Black people are crabs in a barrel.

Black women never support each other.

Our community is tainted by these false stereotypes.

Jendayi wants to prove the naysayers wrong by helping others do the same.

My momma and I told her daddy that he ran into the right people today. Help me follow through.

Help a sista help a sista and vote for this young queen to win a scholarship so she can go on to Columbia and really show out and show and prove.

Because sisterhood should be natural.

(Its extremely easy to vote. From what I was told, clicking the heart above the comments section counts as a vote. Also, leaving comments on the page and sharing her page on Facebook also helps to convince the judges. You have until Friday, 7/ 15/2016 to vote.)

Buy Black by Fantasia Alston

Six men of color
Killed within a week
No, not by their own
But at the hands of the police
Enough is enough
We all began to say
Then we’ll get on our knees,
Bow down, and pray
But is that enough
The peaceful protest with our folks
Poster signs waving in the air
Heartfelt Instagram posts
Social and political activism helps
But what about economic growth
Its time to hit some organizations
Where it hurts the most
Black owned businesses
Are deserving of our respect
They work as hard as anyone else
And should be treated no less
No more trying to be a black face
Of a predominantly white brand
Getting treated poorly by the masses
While throwing money in their hands
Our unemployment rates are still higher
Than any other group
We still don’t have enough funds
For our community to help the youth
We must practice black empowerment
With regard of the revolution
Word of mouth is always great
But it’s time for a permanent solution

Fantasia Alston is a guest writer for She is a 22 year old free spirit  and visionary who spends most of her time  writing poetry, reading (preferably mystery books), and doing whatever she can to help better the community, whether it be volunteering at the nearest homeless shelter or picking up any litter found on the solid surface of the Earth. She also enjoys painting whatever comes to mind, cooking, meditating,  and taking long walks to nowhere.  She currently resides in Columbia, SC. She is a writer for #SCHOOLGIRLHUSTLE, an organization that supports and empowers girls and women to stay in school. Learn more about her and her work here. Follow her on instagram here.


The Conversation 

Police brutality and the war on black men forces poetry out of my soul. It also forces hard conversations with the people we love.

I had to have

the conversation

with the man I love
I told him to just


Just lay on the ground

When they come around
As I spoke I felt that rope

Tied around my throat
And it hurt.
I told him to do whatever

they say

I told him to pray

While he lay

As I choked

on tears and pride
Two black men murdered 2 nights in a row in July

There’s no other option

The man I love



I had to have

the conversation
I felt him lose his patience

as fear consumed me

And there was nothing he could do about it
I felt him lose his power

While murderous thoughts devoured

my heart and my soul and my bones
Engulfed in flames

Set ablaze by the videos

On my social media page
I had to have

the conversation
“I’m gonna be alright” he said

And he held me tight

While I kissed his forehead
Then we said goodnight.
Each minute that passed while he drove home felt more like an hour
I lost my patience.
At least we had the conversation
But then I thought about

His dark skin

His boldness

His unyielding power

His smart mouth

His charisma

And his confidence
Yall know how a man is





There’s no other option.


They Can’t Even Die

Slave burial grounds and cemeteries continue to be vandalized and disrespected on a regular basis in the South. 

Ten years a slave

times 15 at least

a piece of history that never seems

to ever find its peace

severed under ground that’s leased

To the highest bidder
Can you tell that I am bitter because we’ve seen and done all of this before?

All that is left is the land over our ancestors’ heads

Like collateral for a loan we never even took out

Dejected and neglected

Like a bastard child

The world has the nerve to feel embarrassed about

A product of its own rape, pillage and evil
But here lies the sequel

Burial grounds hidden in small southern towns

Cemeteries on university grounds that

Can only be found underground

Hidden from civilization.

We go from decimation to dedication to desecration

back to decimation all over again

A murder of mind and memory each day we ignore and pretend with

Burial ground dedications and designations and celebrations

While glass shards and hate speech and skull bones and fire

Serve as party decorations…
Can you tell that I am tired?

Because my ancestors couldn’t live and

Now they can’t even die