Dear Black Body,

Happy 30th birthday.

I never expressed this outwardly (or inwardly), but I have been fearful of your destruction my entire life. I also have neglected to tell you how much I love you.

You wouldn’t know it from my introverted disposition, but in this skin my heart is always on my sleeve, and I want you to know that I can’t live without you—you complete me.

I remember the way in which you moved my shy, 13-year-old, wavering legs through the streets of Southeast San Diego, and I can recall the way in which you held me tightly to the point of tremors when another black body dressed in all red demanded, “wave yo fist blood!”

I knew life could be usurped from your grasp at the whim of another human at anytime; I saw the statistics and you internalized them. Do you remember when my friends and I mocked those statistics, and laughed at the high probability that one out of the three us would be murdered or herded like cattle into mass incarceration before 28? A little over a decade later, one out of the three of us was shot multiple times and died. I know you haven’t forgotten.

Fist can’t wave, you said to me.

You were nervous, but you had already seen a shooting at a park, and the sounds from the anthem of the destruction of black bodies had become fluent to your ears: the percussion of the slide, the base of the hammer, the bang of the bullet, the scratch of the tires, and the horns from the sirens. The music of the neighborhood saturated your room and you nodded your head along, as if 2PACALYPSE had been playing outside your window.

You carried those beats into schools and peer groups, but quickly realized your neighborhood didn’t sound like other peoples’ neighborhoods and their bodies didn’t face the same threats of physical destruction as your body. The experiences to which you spoke were like a foreign language to some, so you held your tongue. Too prideful for pity, and too prideful to sound like “one of those kids from the ghetto.” You had too much dignity to share stories that might beseech emotional handouts.

I could feel the weight of your tongue heavy with quiet and stories to tell. Perhaps you took my reticence as a sign of aggression, if not suppression toward your identity, but I never intended to trespass against your agency. I just wanted people to see me more than they saw you, but I have learned that perhaps the two of us cannot be mutually exclusive.

You wanted to cry out in anger or sometimes sadness, when you felt you were being destroyed, but your father told you, “there are a lot of niggas in jail because they were mad.” I needed to control the emotions that burned inside of you because that, too, along with the thugs that dressed in red, and in blue, and sometimes in black and blue might lead to your destruction. My bad attitude could lead to your destruction; my disrespect for tyrannical authority could lead to your destruction. I had to treat you like an adult, even when you were a child because the rest of the world would.

Dear Black Body, thank you for your strength and loving me when I couldn’t. I did not know that I, too, would try to destroy you. I tried to put you to bed, but you did not rest. You made sure breath came from my lungs in my deepest sleep, and you stayed with me all night and because of that I vowed I would never silence you again. In you I found something to live for, and if I needed to, die to protect.

You curled your fingers into your palms, and I could feel you seething in the anger you were taught to subdue. I am going to die before I go to jail. You were standing in front of the police car. You had left the warmth of a lover’s arms to help protect the body of a woman you heard screaming outside. “Sir, have you been involved in domestic violence?” You felt emasculated by the question. You have never hit a woman—You are a feminist body.

I heard the officer refer to you as a “possible subject”, and not as a person. Not a person who was unarmed and afraid. You were a “possible” subject, not even a full subject.

I’d rather my body be destroyed than be humiliated by handcuffs going around my wrist.

 “Have you ever assaulted a woman? … Are you sure you weren’t the one involved in the incident? … Let me show you something.” He turned a monitor toward you and somehow your exact description was written on the screen.

 After watching Oscar, Freddie, Treyvon and Eric being destroyed by the police, you were ready to fight for your right to stand your ground.

 I have done nothing wrong.

I knew you had it within you to be stubborn, but the defiance that uncoiled within your soul was a feeling I had never received from you.

I will not be arrested. I am not going to jail. He’s just going to have to kill me. I’d rather die than be in handcuffs.

Luckily, the officer let you go. You did not have to die to pay for your space.

Dear Black Body,

Like all babies and bodies, you were born perfect and beautiful. It is I, the human, who is flawed, who hurts and who fails, but for thirty years you have been the one who always picks me up.

Thank you for allowing me to occupy space inside of you. You have navigated the pathways of destruction (my neighborhood, jail, the police, loss of identity, gang violence and suicide), if not flawlessly, then valiantly and I am so thankful that you have allowed me to drink from your strength.

Thank you for seeing me to thirty.

Love, peace and hair-grease,
Anthony

P.S.
I know you are not out of the woods yet. You still have to avoid prostate cancer.

87 Comments

  1. This is a magnificent post. Thanks for sharing. I wish I loved my body as much as you do.

    #nonviolencesvp

    A fair skinned girl from far away.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for reading, Charliencucina. I can understand why you think loving your body is a matter of wishing, but it’s a matter of acceptance. Unfortunately, acceptance is hard when the color of your skin is treated as a “pre-existing” context for your existence. I hope one day you are able to find the love that you are wishing for.

      A somehwhat fair skinned boy from far away

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I understand what you mean. Acceptance is fundamental. I might have never experienced my body as a “pre-existing” context, probably being “white”, but mostly, living in a place where skin color is not much of a big deal – it’s irrelevant compared to the importance it’s given somewhere else in the world. Despite this, through your words, you masterly managed to insinuate this feeling of having to get down to your body before and beyond everything and everyone else on earth can stigmatize or abuse you. And what relates me to this feeling is not the fact that I get stigmatized because my skin color. Instead, it’s how hard it is to me – and people like me, to accept to have been inexistent for whom was supposed to give my body the loving touch it needed, from the very beginning.
        That neglected, you “live in your body” not knowing you have one, unable to listen to it, to take care of it, confused on where the limits between you and the outer world is, ignoring how far you can let people push themselves into you and do whatever they want… because you haven’t been taught that your white, girly body mattered.
        And this wasn’t meant to be a comment by a white person aiming at generalizing and minimizing a post by a black person about his black body.
        Not at all. At this moment, I’m still re-building my body up, so I like to think of me as a skinless and colorless person. Once I will have learn to accept my body, I’ll probably paint it rainbow. And this is one of the few advantages of having to remake myself from scratch at my age.
        Thanks again for making me think of all this. And thanks for your kind response. I hope mine makes sense!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Thank you for such a thoughtful, open and honest comment. I think any woman regardless of skin color can relate to this. I think a lot of women go through a time in their lives where they have to break through societal stigmas about their body. As a male I don’t have to worry about my body in a sexual sense (at least not to the same degree that women do). I don’t think you were minimizing anything. I think it’s important for people to be able to openly talk about their bodies and what it is like to struggle to inside of it.

        Your comment made plenty of sense. Thank you for sharing. Sorry of my response feels scattered. I’m at Heathrow and I was so touched by your response that I wanted to respond as soon as I saw it.

        Thanks for reading.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Body unawareness and exploitation go far beyond the sexual realm of life – yet this is usually included in many of the stories people, who grew up not knowing their body was of some worth, tell.
        I’d love to get the conversation going, I think your point could be of immense help for a lot of us…
        I hope you had a great flight, wherever you were off to; and to hear back at charlieincucina@gmail.com

        Beatrice

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This is amazing post. It is good to be one with one’s body.

    http://www.deargoddiaries.com

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for reading, FummiWrites. It is good to be at peace with and within one’s body.

      Like

  3. This is a beautiful post. Love peace and hair grease!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it! Love peace and hair grease!

      Like

    1. Thank you for reading. How do you feel inspired? I hoped this would reach someone, but I am curious as to how it inspired you.

      Like

  4. Very nice..! makes me remember the whale and the mermaid 🙂

    Like

    1. I wish I knew this reference! What is the whale and the mermaid?

      Like

      1. Just try to Google it… It went viral sometime ago.

        Like

  5. What a way to see yourself! Beautiful. Lovely post!
    Coffee

    Liked by 1 person

  6. come check out my blog i just got started and could really use some advice from a great writer like you!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi friend check out my blog i just check yours out bet you gonna do a great job over there

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think yours got deleted

        Liked by 1 person

      2. PearlMAB

        No it didnt

        Like

      3. I could not find it.

        Like

  7. nice one…please check out my just started blog

    Like

    1. Okay check out mine too welcome to the bloggers world

      Liked by 1 person

  8. […] Source: Dear Black Body […]

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Poignant and touching, this is extraordinary. Hope this touches the hearts and minds of more and more people. Violence and oppression needs to stop. Civilised society must have equality for all, regardless of colour.
    Thank you for such a wonderful post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading the post, bloggeray. I agree: civilised society must have equality for all, regardless of colour. I’m sure that by working together we can get there.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Amen.
        Have a good day.

        Like

      2. United we stand divided we fall nice write up check out my blog bro

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Love is all that matters it matters after all Diana Rose

      Liked by 2 people

      1. True. We should all spread love and compassion.
        Have a good day.

        Like

  10. […] Source: Dear Black Body, […]

    Liked by 1 person

  11. “I had to treat you like an adult, even when you were a child because the rest of the world would.” I could feel the pain at the realization of this truth. Childhood is not lost when we grow out of it, but when we realize how it is sustained.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Exactly! And the interesting thing is that this context extends beyond skin color. After I wrote this, I thought about how women may experience similar sentiments about their own body. By the time a young woman is 12 or 13 she has to start thinking of her body through the lens of a male gaze, which is quite sad. Thank you for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you for sharing. I love the angle you took with this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading the piece.

      Like

  13. I don’t comment on posts, in fact of my four years on wordpress I never have. But reading this I felt extremely compelled to. I wanted to thank you for sharing. You opened my eyes to a daily struggle that unfortunately I can only empathize with. And I do. So much.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your kind words and taking the time out to comment on the post, Chelseabeth2013. I think empathy is all people can ask for when sharing experiences, so I am very thankful to have yours. I don’t think this experience is limited to black people per se; I think women in general can relate to this because womens’ bodies are treated in a similar fashion, but I’m not woman, so I can’t say for sure and in the case of a woman’s body, I can only empathize.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, as an actor, I have learned that most perspectives can be drawn from personal experience. What differentiates us is that we strive to look at those experiences to empathize, not over look them! Keep it up!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I used to be a theatre major! It sounds like you’re talking about “the method” right?

        Like

      3. Not intentionally, but the two very much are related. Perhaps it’s so ingrained I didn’t even differentiate.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Great read. As an African American woman, I understand, but I understand from a distance, because I am of lighter skin and found that it wasn’t those outside our race who judged or banned me. It was those of our own. I was too light to be considered “black”. My waist length hair wasn’t the “black way” and other black woman would taunt me because my hair wasn’t “whipped” as their weave was so I was a bum. I do have Native American in me as well, and when I’m talked about by others from other races, I am called “Samantha”. But when it came from other black woman, 90% of the time I am identified as “The Indian Girl”…why? Because I have Native American in me as many other blacks claim themselves or because I am of light brown skin and long hair? Dark skin people may have issues with other races, but some of us light skin people have issue within our own race. It’s sad, but that’s our reality. My own people have turned their back on me too many times due to physical features I have been born with. Unfortunately we do live in a society where it is somewhat black Vs White, so it shouldn’t be dark Vs light, because who has our back?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for such a powerful comment. I know the feeling of being “too white or to light to be considered black” all to well. I tried to allude to that in this piece, so to be explicit: I think it is very sad that one black person (or any person belonging to any race) would say that another person, who shares similar skin or a similar identity can’t be a part of that race because of a false belief in actions that one would need to engage to fit into that particular race (talking too white, dressing to white or looking to Indian in your case).

      I have your back!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Empty1981

    I am so grateful that I do live in a place where skin color is not a big deal and that I have never witnessed with my bare eye any form of discrimination due to skin color. I am really grateful for that.
    .. and yes, as many of your readers, I, too, would like to love my body as you do!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for reading, Empty1981. I have been struck by the amount of people that have read this and have said “I wish I loved my black body as much as you do”. That has impacted me… I think even though it’s hard we all have the capacity to love our bodies and minds despite what color of skin covers them.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Loved it! I stumbled upon this and I’m so glad I did. Great piece.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I definitely agree!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for reading, adelinev. I appreciate the time and comment.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Thank you for reading, April. I, too, am happy you stumbled on this piece and took time to read and comment.

      Like

  17. Lovely. . Touched 😊😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading, cshivali. I am happy the piece touched you in some way. That’s all I was hoping for.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. What a way to use such few words to speak volumes! I’m looking forward to reading the full post. To take things further, with respect I now will listen to all types of things my body has been trying to express. Things such as, its contempt for being ignored, and not loving it enough to monitor food choices or expecting 100 percent performance without fortifying it with routine exercise. Worse yet, not scheduling enough time to pamper it with massages or with body creams and oils that will allow it to glow, and proudly show off the skin it’s in.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Michelle! You have inspired me to four and get a massage! You are so right: it is important to listen and take care, make that pamper, or bodies. Thank you for reading. Random question: were you not able to read the whole thing? It’s a short piece, but the whole post should be here.

      Like

      1. Hello Black and Wordy! Yes I was able to access the entire post, and as anticipated from the short piece that evoked my response, it did not disappoint. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks for letting me know! You almost gave my newly healed black body a heart attack! I’m happy you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading the whole thing.

        Liked by 1 person

  19. wonderfully frank!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading.

      Like

  20. Lovely piece of writing, I happen to love and appreciate my black body.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading and expressing the love and appreciation you have for your body.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Love love!!! What a way to be thankful.. It was a wonderful piece

    Like

    1. Thank you for reading, Kwakyewaawrites. I am glad you enjoyed it.

      Like

  22. It clearly shows colour is neither the torch that leads us to our true potential nor the barrier that limits our abilities. The realisation of our dreams and potential as well as will never to be inferior or cast in the dark, is what makes our colour shine. The value of our colour is dependent on our ability and strong will

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That was beautifully put! Thank you for reading and such a insightful comment.

      Like

  23. nice artical. amazing. we should do work for making peace. nice work.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I absolutely love this post its beautiful!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading 🙂

      Like

  25. Beautifully written, so full of raw emotion, very enlightening, I felt as if I was reliving an actual event in life with you. Great Job!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading, Vi.

      Like

  26. This is just what I needed! I am on the verge of reconstructing myself into this woman that i have always dreamed of being. You have taught me the first step is acceptance. Learning how to accept and be grateful for all the wonderful things my body has done for me for these past nineteen years. Thanks! My soul has been Fed. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, AaliyahWanya. Thank you for leaving your comment. I am grateful that my experience can offer some nourishment for the soul! I wish you well in the reconstruction process. I know it can be hard. Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

  27. One of your best pieces yet. So proud of you Anthony! I’ve known you for a while now and you still blow me away. Love you man!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love you, Marc! And thank you for your kind words. I’ve only made it this far because I have people like you and your lovely wife to guide me.

      Like

  28. Beautiful praise of the human body. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading, Sam. I appreciate your time.

      Like

  29. Stella, ad Astra!

    Hello, I just read what you wrote here and I must say, you touched my heart in a way, that my eyes went wet. It really touched me…
    I just like your way to write and I wish you the best!

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Discovering that the two may not be mutually exclusive at 30 is a great start to an even better story. Good for you!

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Amazing. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. follow back please? ❤

    Like

  33. please could I repost this on my blog? I focus on helping people rebuild a relationship of compassion and love with their body, and I am particularly fond of the politics of self-love AND the male experience. I would be most grateful to add this wonderful and insightful post to the collection. could I please?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading, Dany. Yes, you can repost on your site. I am grateful that you would like to repost!

      Like

  34. travelersdash

    Reminds me of a Yusef Komanyaka poem I read once, only it’s completely unpacked. Beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. […] essay “Dear Black Body” was published by the Huffington Post and on his blog, Black and Wordy, in […]

    Like

  36. Knowing how difficult it can discovering yourself and falling in love with yourself, this post absolutely touched me. Loved reading this piece!

    Like

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