I LOVE MYSELF

The night I was a witness to Kendrick Lamar –

He came to Oakland. A town fraught with colonization, displacement, despair while simultaneously remaining wild, alive, free – pushing and resisting. Defiant. Beautiful.

(but they don’t see it that way).

That day was gorgeous, drooping with expectation and glimmers of hope.

We danced and the city floated on its tippy toes. A city weighed down by its long legacy of pepper spray and police brutality. Streets stopped by protestors, its highways littered by black and brown people yelling NO MORE

NO MORE

NO MORE

Killing our kids, killing our babies, killing our cousins, our husbands, our brothers

(but they wouldn’t call them that).

So that night. Kendrick was in town.

Us black and brown girls were there. With our thick ass thighs and our thick ass asses and our round ass bellies with our big ass hair.

I LOVE MYSELF

NAH girl, keep your powders and your fixes/itsaboutgettinghealthybutheresabikinishot shit.

(but they wouldn’t call it that).

I LOVE MYSELF.

There we were – CITIZENS. Fists in the air, foot stomping, delicious hip swaying – bodies squeezed and squooshed together.

I LOVE MYSELF

Kendrick preaching the good news to us, to each other, to ourselves.

I LOVE MYSELF.

(They didn’t think I should).

For so many years, I did not see myself.

The words I swallowed told me I was someone I was not. I held up a mirror and I was nowhere to be found.

I worshipped a god that I thought was mine. But he wasn’t –

The more I became aware of my brown skin

The warmth between my legs

This bridge called my back

– the smaller and angrier this god got. A canyon widened. And I fell through its massive abyss.

Finally free.

So I looked for better mirrors. The bigger ones that were strong enough to reflect me, where I could present my bodyandself – not as sacrifice, but in Glory. A mirror brave enough to reflect my existence –

I finally saw me.

(They never did see me).

I LOVE MYSELF

What a beautiful thing to say – an act of resistance. To love a body that is brown, scarred, tattooed, too big, and too goddamn loud.

I LOVE MYSELF

We streamed out of the Fox Theatre that night. There in Uptown Oakland. We were drunk with hope, adrenaline, whiskey.

Floating on air. And we went on to dance, to drink cheap beer, and celebrate. To celebrate that maybe we’d be alright.

That we were gon be alright.

Free of of it all – of the weight of racismmisogynytransphobiahomophobiabrutality. We would create our own world.  At least, for the night. And just for that night? We did.

I LOVE MYSELF

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