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the black girl lives in this one

Updated: Dec 24, 2023


There was once a black girl cursed with the gift of ambition

She had a vision of something more than what she was given

A condition that made her fight tooth and nail

She made the decision to put it above all else

She called herself driven


She worked day and night

Subscribed to a superstition called the American Dream

A starving artist waiting for her time to rise up from the ashes

Of a life where she had to ration out her passions

And make room for the gashes life dealt her


In her mind the finish line was a road made of gold

She could feel getting longer and longer as she got further and further behind

She worked day and night

Feeling undermined by those who would have her resigned to her fate


See, she had grown up dirt poor with nothing more than a mother who gave her half a fighting chance to change her circumstance

Nothing more than a mother who saw her potential as influential and used it to inspire herself to be better

Nothing more than a mother who just wanted to give her daughter the world

A world where she didn’t have to fight

A world where she didn’t have to work day and night

She wouldn’t let her mother’s sacrifices be left in vain


She worked day and night and night and day

Day and night and night and day

Day and night and night and day


The mortician and death watched as she cried

Malnutrition ravished her body and her mind

As she look for a sign that her mission was divine

Suspicion poisoned her dreams


Maybe she couldn’t do it

Maybe she wasn’t enough

Maybe everything that had led up to this moment was just dumb luck

She tried to quiet the aching inside her

She wouldn’t be anything more


But it wouldn’t be silenced so easily

It gained in frequency

Screaming notice me

Remember me

Awaken me

Let yourself dream

Let yourself reach for the stars

Dare to shine like one

Don’t let the doubts shut you down


You’re made from blood and magic words of ancestors praying for the very air you breathe, praying for relief, praying for the grass beneath your feet to guide you to the land of milk and honey


She works day and night and night and day

No longer waiting but creating her own

Freedom

 

I wrote this poem in my first semester in art school. The main reason I wrote it is because my roommate at the time (white) had been insinuating every chance she got that I was a workaholic. Which normally wouldn't bother me but it was so persistent and said with such confusion that it began to worm it's way in my mind. Maybe I was doing all of this and it would be for nothing. She was planning on dropping out that semester and to me, she had so much more creative talent than I did that I began doubting myself. I wrote this mainly as a reminder to myself, but also to others that as a black woman, there are throws of people who came before me who paved the way so that I could do what I do. There are so many dreams that were packaged away so that mine could be realized. To forget that or throw it all away, would be unacceptable.


A year after I wrote that I shot the visual to go along with it. At the time I was shooting, I was really struggling with burn-out. All this time I'd been pushing myself to the point that I was hospitalized because my body and mind couldn't handle the stress I was putting on it. I had to really rethink my approach and remember that self care and rest is just as important in my journey as working is. I filmed over the course of two to three weeks, all on my iPhone 11 camera. At first, I was wary of the way the bathtub scenes are shot because I wanted it to look more professional, but as I showed it to others and also took time away to see it with fresh eyes, I've realized that the aesthetic is very realistic and raw - I'm not coming from or into money that allows me to have luxury baths, I'm taking what I get.


I think the hardest part about this piece was the title. When I first wrote the poem, it was called Day and Night. As I worked on the video, I wanted to give it a more poetic title, in the same vein that I title my more recent poems. I contemplated with things like the sun may set, and the moon may not emit its own light, but here i am, awake and alive (too long) or a change of pace (not evocative enough). In the end, I chose the black girl lives in this one. This title invokes so much in me that it's hard to explain it in less than another paragraph so I'm going to let others take their own interpretations for what it means for them.


*I also find it funny that the class I presented this in, my teacher connected it to my piece before I pour into you, I first must pour into myself, which was surprising because I didn't realize how much bathes and healing via water are a big part of my self care routine and my own process of healing until she made the connection.

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