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Brown Girl Lifted

because life @ the intersection is personal & political

A note from the author: We celebrated MLK day just a few days ago, and after seeing countless reminders that only love can only drive out hate, I got to thinking about how, regardless of his nonviolent message, many white people seem to forget his disappointment with inactive white “allies”:

“First, I must confess that over the last few years, I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedoms is not the White Citizen’s Counselor or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice…who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until “a more convenient season.”

This is a poem about my frustration toward white people who don’t outwardly admit they have said racist things. This is a poem expressing my anger at those who excuse their actions because they have a black friend or significant other. This is a poem expressing my anger about white folk who are down on social media but fall silent when it’s time to organize in real life. To call yourself a supporter of black lives and black liberation means that you support our methods and actions we take, and be as altruistic as humanly possible when advocating for us.

-Samantha Adams, 01/25/2016

honeybreath  (or words and things I think of when I hear ‘white liberalism’)

empty

false / promise

fake

old plastic smell

colorless

lacking

flighty

weightless

slippery

the chemical aftertaste found in a blue icee.

unhealthy

sticky

tea bags, black tea leaves smothered by honey

I agree with your mission but not with your method

be quiet,

post an article

fight the power with a fractured wrist

spoiled milk

skim milk

stuttering

covert

secret

scratchy, quickly knit blanket left red rash

soft language

prejudiced (in quotation marks), not racist oh no

mold forms relatively fast when you buy fruit just to leave it on a surface of something.

your fruit, sitting on the state-of-the-art granite countertop is growing spores

and once it starts good intention becomes rancid mush.

middle class vanilla lady watchin’ MSNBC likes to put a hyphen

between two words African and American to describe someone

doesn’t like a stir of

bigger noise or broken glass but bigger

words make her feel better. she’s kinda like

a dog with a slimy tongue begging for a treat

from a black hand straining to lift white weight.

-Samantha Adams

 

This year I resolve not to confuse the piece for a whole

to recognize the peace in the hole (give me peace in my soul) 

the cavity: negative space left in absence of friends near to heart but far from body

never-quite-replaced by impostors close to body but never meeting eyes

This year I won’t want for someone else to understand me

This year I resolve to protect my best friend, even when she is me

even when her words hit too close to home

lambasting me with lashings

spinning webs of weaponized thought

jumping the myelin bridges in my unguarded still-naive

not-yet-fully-developed

young adult mind

even when my flaws are swallowing me whole

impulses shorting — crack! 

unencumbered by

inhibitions lubed with alcohol

sometimes it’s not safe here

with a heart in swollen pieces

because I cut it up

for reasons I haven’t lived my way to the bottom of yet

This year I will write more and say less

I will want for grey matter — not for grey friendships

I want for grey hairs — but for now I’ll settle for flecks of blonde (because I’m fun)

& I’ll stop spelling gray the British way just because I think it’s classy

Nothing is inherently classy except a good book and a healthy respect for all living kind

This year I won’t confuse a piece for the whole

I think maybe humanity shares a collective soul

else, why would I find something

I want to keep in every person I meet

Even if my mind is trained to categorize and to stereotype

in spite of view

I stubbornly fight for the right to match and to defy

others’ projections/definitions/rising inflections and shady looks

remembering we all have a right to identify ourselves however we choose

& I have that right, too.

There is a part of every person that shines like the sun

There is a part of every person that wants to run

I want to run

to the future

& find my own light

& give only the best pieces of myself to the world

even as the worst parts poke out of the collective soul, thriving like weeds,

surviving generations like those light sleepers and those heavy dreamers — never wiped out by random chance

This year…

I’ll stop asking for permission to be my complete self

I’ll stop taking silence for rejection & I’ll finally buy a bookshelf

I’ll take up space and live my life

converting my potential into kinetics into weaponized love–into light.

I’ll give less of myself to each person, and more of myself to the world

This year I won’t confuse the piece for the whole

This year, I’ll create peace in my soul

-Aarushi Agni

Why I Can’t Do Christmas…

 

For the past month you have likely been barraged by the sights, lights, sounds and smells of what is called “The Christmas Spirit.” You’ve pulled out your ugliest ugly Christmas sweater, and you’re ready to “deck the halls.”

You’ve watched The Grinch and Buddy the Elf about 10 times this month, blasted Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas is you” so loud ya neighbors came knocking (what happened to her voice anyway??), and you’ve decorated your crib to now include a 7 foot tree complete with garland, lights, candy canes, and whatever else y’all use to pimp out trees.

You’ve emptied your wallet in a shopping frenzy for the newest gadgets, and when it’s all over some of you will ponder whether all the stress and expense was really worth it.

Here’s a perspective from one browngirllifted writer who said adios to Christmas once and for all.


**Before I begin, I’d like to issue a disclaimer. I do not hate anyone who chooses to celebrate Christmas, nor do I have any interest in condemning anyone for observing a religious holiday. I simply wish to share my voice.**

I remember what Christmas used to mean to me as a child. Pictures with Santa at the mall, decorating Christmas cookies, sneaking in the basement to get a glimpse of gifts I assumed were for me. Yes, it was all very exciting. Every December I looked forward to getting a chocolate advent calendar just so I could count down the days until Christmas (even though I usually ate them all during the first week). For my family and me, December signified all things Christmas.

Christmas music.

jackson

Christmas programs.

2.

Christmas movies.
3.

Christmas shopping.

4
NEW YORK – NOVEMBER 24: Black Friday bargain hunters shop for discounted merchandise at Toys R’ Us, which opened at 9PM Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 2011, in New York City. Marking the start of the holiday shopping season, Black Friday is one of retailers’ busiest days of the year. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

Christmas cookies.
5

Christmas outfits

6

Christmas decorations.

7

Everything. Christmas

So how did I, your typical Christmas loving child, say goodbye to “The most wonderful time of the year?”

8.png

Continue reading “Why I Can’t Do Christmas…”

For Colored Girls

-Nyesha Brown

I am frequently intimate with myself.
Because I am intimate with myself
I realize that the stumble of words across my tongue do not have to
constantly explain to others the wires of my hair
Or my brown skin
Or the sound of my voice.
I am borrowing a line and I want to be self-serving when I say
I wish myself well on my journey to the sun.
I wish you well on your journey to the sun
To the core of you, of me burning and throbbing and raging
There is a growing mind in here
And it is fertilized
But it used to be simultaneously plagued with a blight
Of whiteness and micro-aggressions
masquerading cradling lilywhite hands for ones that constrict and strangle
And dilute the richness of my blackness into “you talk white, you speak well.”
There is a growing mind in here
And it is not close to tiring
There is no holding it back
Only holding it tender
There is no holding it back
But there will be some who wanna hold it captive
and someone who will render it inactive
Incompetent
In. in. in.
I’m not folding in on myself
I’m throwing by blackness on a white canvas
my skin turning the color of earth’s clay I smile
my minds eye my eye’s mind opens to light
opens to darkness for without the dark who could shine
my eye’s brown and black thank god for that eye
that lets me see how the world operates
you know, the world that holds the sclera above the pupil
and how could you treat the black center of something so cruelly even my burnt kneecaps are fed up
the pigmentation comes to a head on my legs
I used to see them as burdens why aren’t my legs the same color throughout
But then again I’m not the same color throughout
“I’m not white I’m golden” my seven year old tongue spits
Split in half
And once my skin called out to be named (a political statement, self-preservation)
i became fluent in the language of myself
and i pray my syntax seeks to confuse the uncomfortable
who cringe in white cocoons


Samantha Adams is a 19 year old sophomore at UW Madison pursuing a degree in English with an emphasis in creative writing, and a minor in Gender and Women’s Studies. She lives in Madison but her heart resides in her hometown Milwaukee, WI. She believes her words can be just as powerful as her actions. She believes wholeheartedly in the power of black girl magic…and she’s working on new ways to take care of herself in an environment that is not always kind to women of color. She thanks Aarushi from the bottom of her heart for the opportunity to be featured on such an empowering blog!

Addressing Racism Online: An Open Letter

A couple of days ago, someone I consider to be a close friend sent me this mildly offensive meme that for one reason or another, she assumed I would find funny rather than offensive and hurtful.

racist meme

Honestly, I wasn’t sure how to respond. Had it been something that somehow ended up on my Facebook timeline, I would have scowled in silent indignation and kept on scrolling. This ugly thing was staring at me in my messenger presumably waiting for verbal approval accompanied by LOLing emojis.

We’ve never discussed issues of race or racism in the past mostly because I felt some trepidation about addressing the issue directly for fear that she would shut down and become defensive as we have come expect from those who declare themselves “colorblind”.

What I DID say, in retrospect, left much to be desired.

“There are a bevy of fucked up implications in that meme. You probably shouldn’t share it with anyone else”

In that moment, I thought it got the point across — a conversational, softball way of saying, “Yeah, no, not funny, definitely racist.” without having to explain too extensively. I didn’t want to run the risk of insulting her intelligence by giving her a run down of why it was offensive, but then, if she saw this meme on Facebook, chuckled to herself and thought, “I know who would enjoy this, let me send this to Trisha”, then I probably should have assumed her racial aptitude also leaves much to be desired.

This is an open letter to my friend. Words I wish I had the quick thinking and intrepidity to actually say when it happened.

Continue reading “Addressing Racism Online: An Open Letter”

We want to hear your stories.

Brown Girl Lifted accepts

narratives

rants

poetry

musings

comics

multimedia

Contact Aarushi Agni at browngirllifted@gmail.com with questions, or fill out the Google form below. Read more about the blog’s mission here.

Continue reading

When everything hurts, write a poem.

the-tempest-1886-1

Too often, people work hard to hide
That they are ever broken
Or unhappy or flawed
Or anything but perfectly happy.
Never anything but perfectly happy.
“Don’t dare be anything but perfectly happy.”
I don’t understand the allure of the placid.
What is a pulse without a tempest?
What is a laugh without a roar?
When I meet people, I want to love them.
I want to know the come and go of their
Happiness and full
I want to know the cracked porcelain
Wrists
The glued-together, burned clay fingertips
The knees that never melted before God.
Everyone is broken in different places
Everyone has parts of them they don’t know exist.
We forget what our bodies are made of until pain tugs at our composition
Don’t know kidney until it hurts
Don’t know bone until it shatters
Don’t know parts of ourselves until they are torn and tested.
We are all torn and tested in different parts.
I want to learn all of me.
And tracing my fingers on spiked wire spines
Teaches me more than caressing my own darkness
So I have learned to love
like peeling back the thin skin of an apricot
Like letting the juice run down alongside my veins
Like seeing the shattered glass
The ebb of the wave
The crash of the tide
Like everything.
All of it.
Beautiful,
In its singular composition.

Continue reading “When everything hurts, write a poem.”

Brown Female Seeks Solidarity in an Intersectional, Digital World

who I am today, why I started Brown Girl Lifted & where I hope this project will take us


I AM SITTING IN MY ONE-BEDROOM APARTMENT, I’ll-let-you-guess-which half-naked, reeling from the day’s events.

Today was one of my rare days off . Working three writing-and-editing-based freelance jobs, two restaurant jobs, and two to three “careers I am building that don’t pay much,” makes for busy days off. I am playing catch-up — planning for a concert, writing jokes, and finally, finally, giving my intersectional feminism blog/zine the attention it deserves.

I am damn awake; my eyes are stuck open by the ever-penetrating glue of stimulant drugs, while a cough hides in my closed throat. Alas, somewhere between my eighth and tenth cup of coffee, I unwittingly eschewed the possibility of ever getting sleep again, ever.

But I am feeling triumphant, because the idea that I’ve had tucked inside my shirt since April is finally growing its digital roots.

Continue reading “Brown Female Seeks Solidarity in an Intersectional, Digital World”

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