4 minute read

Return | Taboo


Written by Huleymatu Sow | Edited by Shaylon Walker | Layout by Amanda Siow


Taboo is inspired by both Sankofa itself and personal experiences. Things Huley has found a recent appreciation for as well as aspects of her identity that make her who she is. Taboo is a research piece, into the past of Charcoal and into oneself and their history.

The mother

will ensure that breath leaves your body every moment that you still. She will spend your youth learning that her lungs did not stop breathing life into yours when that physical connection was cut, though you may not realize. She will feel your pain so much that she cannot separate herself from it. As far as the mother is concerned, you will always be her, and she will always be you. And perhaps she may get tangled in these similarities of the soul, she may fail you in the very ways she failed herself.

The child has never known this life of connection. Every step is their own. The sun warms their faces with the possibilities of the world unaware of the shadow that whispers encouragement. Sometimes it is not until you fall that the child acknowledges this presence, its necessity, its use.

It is not taboo to be enlightened later, nor to befriend your own shadow.

The Name

To hesitant roll calls And foreign phonemes

To anglicized amputations And edited identities

Do not cut your wings and turn your back

to those who jumped so you could soar

How could they have known the transplant angel would not be seen as divine

That your name would not be seen in its glory

Do not reduce yourself to this existence

Do not erase all those who poured life and meaning into everything you could be

The first utterance of your name was not simply a label

The breath that fueled that announcement carried hopes, dreams for anything you could imagine for yourself

Let every hesitate read and founding phoneme reintroduce everything that brought you to that meeting

Ensure every person who breathed life into that name and into your journey get their respect

It is not taboo to make sure you are not forgotten.

The mosaic

Silence echoes, it keeps things still but the world is turning over on us and we cannot lay still history is spilling onto us, into us, out of us

- Casey Ramos, Remember, Sankofa, 53.

These multidimensional identities build themselves on this history It is not often we see things that represent the essence of ‘us’ but there is so much beauty in every direction behind us, in front of us, within us, outside of us it just takes a look to recognize it

- Rosie Reyes, Q+A with Rosie Reyes, Sankofa, 41-44.

My mom would tell me how when she was still pregnant with me, I think she’s gifted me some sort of special connection with it

- Nikka palapar, Q+A with Nikka Palapar, Sankofa, 32-37.

She is woven into the meaning of my name, the shape of my face, and the fabric of my being. I do not exist without her,

- Adia Turner, Chip’s Daughter, Sankofa, 26-27.

I see my grandmommy, The matriarch I see my grandfather’s lopsided jaw, I see my Lolo, dark tapioca eyes, I hear their stories

- Casey Ramos, Rosie Reyes, When I look in the mirror, Sankofa, 58-63.

I usually begin at the end! While these histories lay out the path they leave some things uncolored… one poem can tell a million stories.

- Casey Ramos, Q+A with Casey Ramos, Sankofa, 47-50.

It is not taboo to look back to the beginning to remember where you are going. To realize how many people you can touch by being the person who speaks up. To live up to the name and continue to nurture the fire.

Huleymatu Sow (she/her) is a sophomore studying Speech, Language, & Hearing Sciences with a minor in Medical Anthropology, and this is her first semester working with Charcoal. Growing up in the suburbs of Atlanta to a Guinean immigrant parents creativity wasn’t something that was explicitly encouraged. However the arts were her greatest comfort and outlet, singing, dancing, and writing especially. After seeing the impact of Charcoal she decided that this would be a great opportunity to finally share and expand her artistic side.