The Blood Between Us

“God now calls us to be agents of reconciliation in the world around us, and I can’t imagine how we’ve convinced ourselves that we can do so without lamenting fully the darkness of what we’re in. Our reconciliation will only be as deep as our shared lament. If you don’t feel sad, you are too far away. Get close enough to black brothers and sisters to recognize them as real. Close enough to see their tears. To be confused and uncomfortable. Close enough to cry with them and mean it. It may take time. Don’t fake it. Just get closer.”

thank you, cole, for spilling your heart and speaking much needed truths in light of these tragedies.

braided veins

Alton Sterling
Philando Castile
Black bodies are more than a hashtag. This, for you and unnamed others, in higher hope.

I’ve been hiding. The past 2 days, I’ve been hiding and peeking around corners and turning off the lights and pretending I’m asleep a lot. When I am with people (especially white people), I’m still hiding– half hearted smiles and cantaloupe at a barbecue and passing off tears for sweat.

And then I’m in a parking lot with my white skinned fiancé and his panicked blue eyes and I’m screaming and sobbing as I choke out a string of sentences that I didn’t even know lived in my brain…
You can’t wait to feel something until you have a black son
People deserve your tears all on their own
We’re real people
I can’t be the only black body in your life
They don’t see us as human

And the last one…

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mirror, mirror

both of these pictures are self-portraits. the first was taken after my cousin spent an hour applying makeup to my usually bare face: foundation, eyeshadow, lipstick, mascara, brow shading, even glitter. the whole nine yards. it took some time to get used to, but i felt prettier that day than had i felt in a long time. i glowed.

the second picture was taken a few minutes ago. i had recently emerged from the shower and my hair was only partially dried. i have big pores, acne, eyebrows that should probably be tweezed, and bags around my eyes from not sleeping enough. i’m not smiling, but i promise i’m not as sad as i look. just tired.

the reason i’m posting this is because i’m learning to see both girls as beautiful. i’m learning to see both girls as worthy of love. maybe i’m even learning to appreciate the second girl more than the first, because she’s raw and she’s real and she’s the one that i wake up with every morning.

there is nothing wrong with makeup. there is nothing wrong with doing things that make you feel good when you look in the mirror. there is nothing wrong with covering up the acne and the bags and painting yourself with colors that make your eyes shimmer and your lips pop. makeup is an art form and our faces are a canvas. i envy my cousin’s gift at seeing the potential to enhance someone’s unique, natural beauty.

but that’s just the thing: she enhances it. she doesn’t create the beauty herself because it’s already there. we are not blank canvases, because blank canvases are plain and boring and only really worth something when someone turns them into a piece of art.

we are already works of art. we are the smiles that crinkle the corners our eyes, the tears that travel the plains of our face, the laughter that bursts from our lungs like fireworks. we are the constellations on our cheeks, the oceans coursing through our veins, the roses blooming in our hearts. we are the air he breathed into our nostrils, the rib he stitched into our sides, the stardust he formed our bones from.

we are beautiful because he made us beautiful, and no mirror can ever capture that.

– ktl