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Remember this, beloved:

Today – be gentle with your

Body as it mourns

And celebrates

And curses

And laughs

And dreams of freedom.

Be gentle with your body

If family members attempt to gaslight your memories

By convincing you the racism

“Was all in your head”

“Wasn’t their experience”

“Isn’t appropriate to be stated”

“Shouldn’t speak ill of the dead”

Even though the dead spoke ill of you

And said it was love.

Be gentle with your body

Even as it confuses you.

You who were taught to grieve

In formulaic ritual

There is no template

For this violence, no manual on

How to grieve a loved one that was racist

No binary to confine yourself to

You will wonder if you can hold all this




or if you will just become


Beloved one.

Be gentle with your body today

And tomorrow

And the next day

And the next

You will learn to hold

What is yours to hold

And to name

What is yours to name

And you will find

Some day that that will be enough.


“Someone close to me is dying. Again.”

This past year, this whisper and scream and deep blue-black windchime wail has bubbled in my throat quick and steady as a knife, as I have watched…

Black body/ Black body / Black body die

while my

Black body /Black body /Black body

Is still here.


Holding on while someone close to me is holding on until they are holding on…to something new.  


More and more, I find myself identifying as a scholar of grief, which has largely grown out of my TRA journey and my ancestral lineage of displacement.

How to mourn what has been? How to mourn what could’ve been? How to mourn what is? How to mourn what I didn’t know and wish that I had? How to mourn what will forever be lost? How to mourn what can never be expressed? How to mourn someone that was violent? How to mourn someone that was racist?

Naming that last one sounds preposterous…and true…and heartbreaking.

But, I am learning to name the wounded places and bring the medicine of truth telling.


I can still remember being babysat by my great-aunt, and the long hours I would spend watching Mary Kate and Ashley in the basement.  

Clutching a small paper towel, I would sit with my small brown hands shiny with popcorn grease and salt, my eyes firmly lit in the glow of TV while watching two little white girls plan mischievous event after event and dream of my own adventure.  

Even now, as I sit perched on top of my couch, my thighs can still remember the feeling of eleven-year-old me, peeling off of the faded pea-green and burnt orange pleather bean bag chairs, all the while innocent to the fact that at least a dozen racist Jemima and “mammy” antiques stared back at me from various shelves and perches.  

I can remember these truths and I can remember that she was generous, and funny, and loved to surprise us with Mr. Sticky’s sticky buns.

I can remember that she told me that she loved me.

And, I can remember that she collected racist antiques.

I hold both. And holding both is scary and hard and heartbreaking.

But, I hold them.

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