P I TCH Black Mag.
Issue 1 | Feb 2020
W h at h a s t h i s world g iven u s? R e sent ment. Br ut a l it y. Oppre s sion. A nd yet, i n ou r g a rden, t he se t w i sted se ed s a re c u lt ivated i nto t he s we ete st of f r u it. Grote sque sc a r s a re f a sh ioned i nto t he most be aut i f u l pat ter n s. T he c ontent s of t he sou l c ou ld not be repre s sed, a nd i n ste ad f low t h rou g h t he pen, t he br u sh, t he c a mer a . Ne ver c ou ld I hope to bi nd a l l t hei r g lor y w it h i n t he se pa ge s, but here i s my hu mble st at tempt at sh a r i ng not h i ng more t h a n a g l i nt of ou r l ig ht.
A ngelo Gr a nt
Cover Front: Asma and Farhia Ali, photographed by Udochukwu Emeka-Okafor Back: Songs of Freedom by Robel Assefa
Contents Marie Medjine Antoine 5 Evelyn David 7 Sara Mustafa 9 Laylo&Co. 11 Aklil Noza 18 Pierre-Andre Mbala 19 Robel Assefa 20 Stylo Starr 21 anonymous 24 Jamaal Owusu-Ansah 25 Mustafa Naleie 27 Amani Omar 28 Milca Meconnen 29 Jacklyn Osadebamwen 31 Ashley Assam 33 Alexandria Boyce 35 Ashley Marshall 37 Adia Parris 47 Sherry Yenika / Zeena Mhone 51 anonymous 55 Abby Adjekum 63 Udochukwu Emeka-Okafor 67
Rhonda Nebiyou Anu Popoola Aaron Parry Kwasi Kyei Fabio Manuel Tamia Noel Masie Blu Brianne Hunte Brian Boateng Shaza Elnour Fareeda Baruwa Gloria Itoro Namafu Amutse Chiemeka Offor Morgan Martin Rakia Jackson Shenika Hamilton Amani Omar Avery Jackman Ehab Sati J'Lenn James Joy Khan Shae-Ashleigh Owen Shari Ghenoi Williams
77 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 87 88 89 90 95 100 101 103 106 110 111 117 118 119 121 122
MA RIE M ED J I N E AN TOIN E
EVELYN Heat from the warmth of the vintage sphere emitting streaks through the dust-filled tinted lunette
in your dominant, tan stature which gleams rays of orangish-reds, gives me the feels of summer’s day
as our silk tan skins are entangled in one another gripping like it will be our last embrace
you are my warmth through winter’s hellscape you clothe me in your arm’s abode
to the heat escaping your weary words in the sun kissed morning after intensive loving
but as you leave to fend for us both in the morbid, dark streets you leave me cold
bare and by myself, and the joyous beating i sense shivers erupt steaming my bare chest when you apologize so we won’t fight again i ponder why work must come after wake for my heart’s sake the 90s twang lifting the “ ‘ight babe, i hear you” rises my ego with fiery flames on such a pedestal all reminds me that in your presence, is where i feel heat whenever you are around warm tones abound
clenched by tension my clogged throat is hardly subdued by the large intakes of air gulped down
brainwashed by the porous ideology that each of our races are the same thru false living and pointless competition
clamouring sweats and flustered thoughts because of what tomorrow brings eats away the handful of hours left of today it weighs on my mind heavy to be all that and more a great woman of the world the successor of my parents and a perfect me I wonder if maybe I breathe just maybe Iâ€™ll find some relief
envy springs up and breeds whilst the green-eyed sparkle and leap at dying happiness bc we fail to see life thru minimalistic lenses that all we have require yearn arenâ€™t all the same where we fail and how we fall like the legend of hubris
photography by Kevin Jin
W O R K + P L AY
Laylo & Co. Founder: Losa Eguavoen Models: Sonia Igboanugo, Jinnia Baiye, Losa Eguavoen Photographer: Yahya Sidow Direction + Styling: Losa Eguavoen
L A Y L O & CO.
Aklil Noza We laid eyes on each other in the meadow Pale yellow stalks swaying, grazing our arms The meadow was better than the valley because we had already overcome everything to meet in the flatlands Uniting in a stagnant place But being present in great space Your fingers grasped mine in a firm grip Tender but sure I like the hold I read it as solidity Consistency, you’re never letting go We could meander the fields for eternity Find love and learn it in a place beyond the storm But God told us to be in this world but not of it We can’t escape our purpose We are obligated to love loudly as an example for everyone to see Matrimony, sacrament, bond unbreakable For the eyes of all souls To awaken life and passion in others to do good and to treat others well, lovingly Let’s pass the pasture to dwell in the crowded places The darker ones
Bring in our light together, allow people to bear witness to the fire of love, of Something Greater I want us to remember the pasture in the dark times Not forget the peace that lies amongst everything But also to not lose the essence of your steady hand on mine Our love is the common thread through the madness You keep me afloat through troubled waters Fields to concrete, we hit the ground running In and out breathes the essence of companionate love The one that stays, the one that sticks Our spark is within us Not between us We stick around because it’s necessary and needed The flame within us will never die because we bring joy to ourselves We’re firm in our love for ourselves so we stick this one out We stick each battle out To show love to the world The fields remain, the peace still lies in what we make of it I can’t wait to make it with you
My seed came from the Kongo Spelt with a C without the Kay The same sea which took my people away On a ship that whipped away my mother’s tongue Mère... Père donnez-moi vous mains! King Leopold’s Ghost has set us free Sprouting in Brussels on Christmas Eve La Galette des Rois pris pour notre couronne As the year turns a day from today I look to a sky Mashed with Bangers I, Le Benjamin, the youngest of four Your European blood pumps his African heart Torn from her breast and left in the West The scent of a Rose Without her thorn
Robel Assefa Songs of Freedom
Inspired by the photography of Michael Aboya
Stylo Starr Below: 'GEMINI' from the series 'ASTROPRINTS', 2018 (digital collage). Opposite: 'BAZZ' No.4 from the series 'Duodecim Vestimentum' or #THESTYLO12, 2016 (digital collage). Next: 'untitled', 2018 (digital collage).
I have grown up surrounded by women. Seen delicate brown fingers knead white flour and braid hair, and clean. I’ve seen strong arms protect and hug, and provide. I’ve listened to my grandmother tell me stories of her ex husband and the violence she experienced and the way she escaped. I’ve seen my mother cry over two men, who have also made me cry. I’ve felt solidarity with my grandmother as she highlights the similarities between her dad and my own. I’ve seen the way my aunt glows after leaving her fiancee of over 15 years. She tells me there is a reason they stayed engaged for so long, and why she would have never gone through with marriage. I remember making gifts at school for fathers day and then later watching them be left on the counter at home. I would stare at them everyday until one day they would disappear. I remember wanting a boyfriend as soon as I learned about relationships. I used to yearn for male attention, used to wonder why only my friends got noticed and never me. I remember falling in love with my first male friend because I could not differentiate between platonic and non-platonic gestures. I remember when he made me feel microscopic I remember praying and asking God when I would find love. I used to think there was a generational curse and that all the women in my family had been subjected to the mistreatment of men. I tell my grandma that I hate men. She tells me i am childish and that one day my mind will change. I ask her why there are no good men in our family she tells me because they cannot handle the strength of the women in our family because our backs are straight and do not bend to carry their burdens. I sit up in my seat and put my shoulders back. - Generational curse, by anonymous
Jamaal Owusu-Ansah Roots
"Roots" - Shane Pemberton, photographed by Jamaal Owusu-Ansah Opposite: "Dami" - Omotayo Damilola, photographed by Jamaal Owusu-Ansah
Internal Boundaries Mustafa Naleie
Because we are the children who fell In-between cracks. In between country maps, In-between languages, borders, cultures, oceans, And fell out of the ‘family back home’s’ Photographs. The ones who need to lose themselves To be found, The ones who drown themselves inside Their own selves just so they can at least Begin to call their body Home.
Language Barriers Amani Omar
My tongue is orphan These words hold no meaning no more My voice like an echo that has no direction I try, I try to make these words fly, but my throat feels so dry I have no more tears left to cry
Where my words were a melody and not just a member of my memory Slowly disappearing, and I cannot grab it because this language is air. And when my voice tries to open up and speak, always so close, yet the words always slip through my fingers.
What is even language Feelings strung together And has said to have meaning.
But even though, there is a barrier between you and I, Remember that love has no language. So my dear Ayeeyo, I hope you know, I love you In every language.
But what about mine, My language I lost that is oh so divine Itâ€™s time for me to go back in time
ArE yOu StiLl wAtChInG? by Jack Osadebamwen
2:45:00 It’s Saturday night. Social media says everybody, except for you, of course, is having a good time. Netflix says you shouldn’t worry, you are having fun. But the cereal bar that you’ve just ingested is the real MVP. You fell asleep and now you’re gone. For the first time in your life, you’re following Alice down the rabbit hole. You thought you were dreaming, the same scene over and over. But you’re not, your heavy lids are just blinking, you are present. Your sheets feel like satin, you look for God, to thank him, but all you see on your ceiling is a golden pool. Your hands are shaking: in the first lucid moment since you’ve woken up, you cover your head and wish for your mattress to swallow you whole. 2:45:10 Your mom once said: "you are what you eat". Imagine you had taken it literally. Imagine replacing your long arms and legs with Brussel sprouts, swaying like peeled cheese strings. Imagine your chest being replaced with cabbage and your almost-too-big-for-your-body’s head is now a mozzarella ball. 2:45:20 You can’t breathe. Your head is a pacifier to a baby whose slobber is suffocating you. Alice says : "bathroom". Alice says you should head to the bathroom. Stuck between a splash and a wet place, she chose for you to get up and head to the bathroom. As you try to follow her you get lost. You keep flicking in and out of consciousness, as moments like an out of order deck of cards, shuffle past you, in the form of slides. In the bathroom, a small nose, two big eyes and hair that defies gravity stare back at you... you’re here. But your name, your story is not. The rabbit says to look in your mouth, and you do. You look at the white the red the brown...nothing.
You’ve always wanted to be a safe space for art to reside in, but as you check under your tongue and see your web, you realize that not even spiders want to live here... You blink a little too hard and the slides are back. The first one you’ve grabbed catapults you into a world where the Salvatore Brothers are your heroes. Here you are Elena. In the second one, you’ve been reincarnated in a lawyer’s body, a dead model now juggling an ex in mourning. In the third slide, your mother was burned on a ceiling. You became a hunter, and your name is Dean Winchester. 2:45:30 Now fast forward ten years, and you’re a college student. Imagine your legs are spaghetti, your chest frozen dinners and, your head a cereal bowl. But it’s your heart that is worrisome. Imagine it alternates between being made of chocolate and continuous strenuous sadness that slowly nudges you somewhere you’re not supposed to go. But that does not matter. 2:45:40 When you were tiny, your mom used to say you are what you eat. But it is your head that is worrisome, the Queen says Off with your head. And you wonder if you are what you watch. You wonder if she can take you away from you. 2:45:50 The last things you’ve devoured were The Simpsons, Supernatural and Black Panther. Does your hair sprout flowers and butterflies? Or does your Afro leak blood, tears and little signs that say SUPERPREDATOR? Imagine you watch yourself through the eyes of others. You make sure to eat all your greens and watch one Ted talk a week. Imagine only eating organic clean foods and being told you’re a bag of stale chips drenched in venom. Imagine watching them watch you and seeing them not see you. So, who are you now? 2:45:59 You want to wave but you’re not sure who is leaving and who is staying. 2:45:00 It’s Saturday night. Social media says everybody is having a good time, except for you. Netflix says you shouldn’t worry, you are having fun. But it’s the cereal bar that you’ve just had that really is helping. You fall asleep and you’re gone. For the first time in your life, you are following Alice down the rabbit hole.
ALEXANDRIA BOYCE Below: 'The Bond', 2019 (6 x 18", watercolour) Opposite: 'Darkling', 2018 (10 x 14", watercolour)
Walking the Inside and Out by Ashley Marshall
“Looking back at myself and other African American women I knew, and the transformation Ferguson documents in The Aquarian Conspiracy, I can see now that, around 1980, many people’s lives were humming - at higher frequencies - with a brand new music and that massive identity shifts were taking place. This phenomenon was definitely about something ‘spiritual,’ a word the black women I associated with started using to denote all the unseen avenues to power that enabled us to withstand the pernicious racism-sexism-classism-heterosexism of our daily existences. The benefit we derived from taking our religiousspiritual impulses to higher levels was the strength we garnered to walk this tainted Earth.” (Soul Talk, Akasha Gloria Hull, 22).
know how to tune in. I am someone who pays attention. It was my education that made me feel alienated, and/or realize that I am alienated. As a first-generation Canadian - by way of Jamaica, occupied by Spaniards before becoming a British colony, a member of the African diaspora, first of its name - finding material to relate to was difficult. Socialized as a Jamaican, I understood that the People’s National Party was left-wing while the Jamaican Labour Party was conservative. In Canada, left was right: here, the labour party is regarded as left while the Conservatives are right. Although born in Canada, I don’t claim it as my home, and it hasn’t claimed me. If people need to know, I identify as a Black woman occupying 238
it is deliberate, it is also, and simultaneously, an act of leisure and of rebellion.
square feet of space on Turtle Island. There is something familiar about the turtle, carrying its home on its back and making a home of where it migrates to, always a host and the hosted. As a Canadian-born Jamaican, home is a quest(ion). And so, my story is both formed and informed by my lived realities – the quotidian – as well as my training – my formal education in cultural studies and critical theory. It is from the blend of these often competing “experiences” that I view the world, and my surroundings. Keep this in mind: it is a deliberate act to pay attention to the negative space, to the all of it. And while
With this in mind, my friends and I, us merry misfits, formed what is called The Rhizome Project: our work does not perceive the city as a blank campus upon which we can experiment, but rather, our goals are to use collaborative measures to dissect and render visible the various social and material flows that (re)produce hegemonic power structures and dismantle them. In June, with funding awarded to me by the Centre for Collaborative Narrative Arts, I embarked on a series of walks to make different, more deliberate selections of where my attention would be paid – a
currency of personhood, of participation as well as observation. I did more to listen to the city, to live with people instead of merely coexisting. I plugged into the city as much as I could. I was trying to return home, and realized that such a feat was impossible. Home was cemented in a particular moment in time, a specific time in my life. Home was the experience of growing, of having that growth nurtured by the city of Hamilton, and various people in it. I (re)encountered some of those people. I fell back into myself – there was a familiarity. But the times have changed, the place had changed, we as people are changing. It was because I had grown that I was even able to migrate back to Hamilton: I had a job, a place to live, and time to take this project on. It was only once I became stable that I was free to drift. I wasn’t struggling to make it, seeking the comfort of my alma mater – my nurturing mother. It was a visit to thank my home for being what it was to me when I needed it to protect me and stretch me to my edges. As a result of decolonization, there is no “home” to return to. The people and the place have been irrevocably altered.
The conversation around freedom, identity, and what our surroundings signal to us about our own confines is the thrust of my project. I went to Hamilton for my first walk, or psychogeographical experience, knowing that as a Black Jamaican woman, my identity is political. I wanted to see if my return to Hamilton would still evoke a feeling of home. I wanted to see what work I still had to do. I wanted to see what work the city was doing. I grew up in what I found out was “government housing” in North York, until I moved to the suburbs in 1998, at eight years old. Those first eight years of my life were more formative than most. My mother made it a regular practice to kick my sibling and I out of the house. I learned, quickly, that home was unsafe. The wild was safer. She always threatened us with freedom: “if you think life out there is better, go find it.” I was 12, and got my first job: tutoring my reading buddy, who happened to live across the street. I made my $20 a week, knowing I would be propertied one day. I became a teenager, a woman, who knew the glare and grope of hunting men all too well. My home was dangerous, and being kicked out of it was dangerous. It wasn’t so bad when I busied myself with school, band, choir, office helping, library assisting, track practice, volleyball practice, basketball practice, and always a job. Always work. Always being
"I planned my days, my life, so that I would not go home, or at least, go home once the beast had gone to bed." 39
of assistance. If I perform a duty, can I stay indoors for a while? I planned my days, my life, so that I would not go home, or at least, go home once the beast had gone to bed. I had no language for what I eventually identified as “internalized capitalism:” the hardened belief that bodies must always be in motion, that I must Be Always Working in order to be valuable. I had to always prove my worth. Can’t relax poor. Having three jobs was customary to me. That’s how I got through university, and how I made ends meet while I was precariously employed after graduation: full-time school plus part-time work times three. Exercise. Carry the one. Backbreaking work is how I understood my identity, how I erased my boundaries and became unfamiliar with my own pain threshold. Learn to work without a break, without a meal, without help. Grow to seek home, family, love, belonging, safety, for the rest of your life. Do not forget where your own two legs can get you if you walk far enough, long enough. Find refuge in Bob Marley. Black women have such a special place in my heart. Words cannot express how much I love my skin, its colour, its richness. There is nothing more beautiful to me than a Black woman's body, our curves, our strength, the width of the hips on these phenomenal grown women, and the honey that they bathed us
in. The sun-kissed golden hue of the women who came before me. The Blackness that marked us for shipping, the maroons that rebelled with pride. The beaches that are literally paradise. The sands that invite us to play and the waters that remind us who we are, where we come from, and baptize us into rebirth, self-care, and rediscovery. Jamaica, there is no place like you. Caribbean women, there is no one like you. I haven't seen my biological mother since I was 18. She did the best she could. She gave me my love of music. She gave me my hips, my nose, my perfect nails and my name. A single mother my whole life, she taught me endurance. She taught me how to be a rose, growing in concrete. I used to watch her blow dry her hair, mesmerized by how full and long it has always been. That woman's hair was my first toy, how I learned to braid, and my sense of home the rare times we hugged. She taught me how to dance, the way proud Jamaican women do. She
teachers and intimidated her classmates and intimidated her rivals. I thank my mother for that.
was a tortured soul, a fighter, believe me. An absolute hurricane of a woman. Her love was painful. Her discipline was painful. Her grief was painful. Mourning the loss of someone still alive is even more painful. She did the best she could with what she knew and what she had at the time. My great grandmother, Ethel Blake, the epitome of the matriarch. She raised her two daughters, five grandchildren, and she was the main character in every story told by the parents of her at least 14 great grandchildren. She taught me to love castor oil. She taught me to love gardening and growing my own organic food. She taught me that there is beauty, resilience and unyielding pride, that come from the valleys of the Jamaican underclass. Her fruit trees could not be beaten. No tropical storm could take her house. And her smile was for everybody. Blind for my entire life, she is still the best chef I have ever met. Poetry in motion. Saturdays were for spelling tests and essays, reading, cleaning, and braiding my hair. The house was full of music. When there was food, Sundays were for cooking, and rest. She taught me that it was okay to be a young, bright, Black girl child who intimidated her
With my identity deeply rooted in me, there was a competing existence, the one nearest to my reality, a concrete jungle that also had something to say. My thoughts always drifted back to Hamilton, the city where I truly grew the most, where I flourished and flew to the heights that made me stimulated and happy. In Hamilton, the newness gave me a sense of safety: my biological mother could not hurt me. The streets were full of life, crawling with art, alive with music, and packed with myriad experiences. I was completely plugged in, and wanted to explore this rhizome to the fullest. As an adult, I have to care for my dog, Mila, and I think I am now playing the role of mother, myself. Finally back in Hamilton, I walked to Starbucks to get Mila some water. She stopped every 10-12 feet to sniff something on the ground from this city sheâ€™d never been to. She really understood: she stopped to realize the activity of the city, to glean its history, its inhabitants and their canine culture. Satisfied, she trotted along and I smiled as I held her leash â€“ as per the by-laws.
into the places where they serve food. Her adorable beard and pleasant leash – an accepted technology of control – allow her to pass as an extension of ourselves, as deserving of water.
I took a risk and walked inside Starbucks with Mila still on her leash. I usually assume that she is welcome everywhere and that staff will alert me if I am mistaken. To my delight, Mila was admired, as usual. A tea for me and a water for Mila – the barista made a point of informing me that she took the added measure of serving my dog water in an oatmeal container instead of a tall cup so that her round face would fit and she could drink comfortably. This act of kindness gave me pause to reflect on the number of migrants (are they still considered “migrants” if they perish before they make it? What’s the word for those who meet their ultimate end before they meet their ultimate destination? Wouldbe migrants? The floating dead? Prisoners of…borders? Insert whatever the right word is here) but I thought of those who are also travelling to foreign cities, not for dandyism or to wander, but to flee persecution and have a chance at existence and their denial of necessities of life like water every single day. Laws are more lax for dogs – man’s best friend – than refugees and people of colour, I thought. Mila provides a service to society: she is a cute, well-trained, successfully domesticated, compact subordinate. She makes people smile as they welcome her
Next, I saw a grandiose building, adorned in signs reading “make history yours” and “your one-of-akind residence in the heart of downtown Hamilton.” The signs also bore the names and advertisements of the marketing team, reading “Yoke Group” and “trebelhall.ca” in several places. As a music lover, I was curious. I crossed the street to learn more about this Treble Hall. To my surprise, what I entered was not a museum or a kiosk for historical information. Rather, it was a shop for believers of the occult. My heart smiled. I stumbled upon a heterotopia; for me, a home within a home. I was welcomed by an assortment of crystals and gems that have properties that aid with different concerns (rose quartz for self-love, jade for good fortune, amethyst for insomnia). Over the last year or so I had become fascinated with
the power of nature, of our own minds to shift how we engaged with the world. Earlier in the summer, one of my best friends, Tyler, and I drank beer at a bar and interpreted each other’s tarots, agreeing that for us, tarot reading and crystal collecting was therapy while we didn’t have benefits or access to the prohibitively expensive versions of wellness and self-care. I was starting to make sense of myself in a way that was beautiful, in a language that I understood: astrology to me is a narrative art, it is iterative, it is poetry, maybe even science fiction. I enjoyed playing in the creativity and subjectivity of it.
apparent to me. I gave a single, deliberate nod. As I crossed the street to my original vantage point, I looked back at the store, realizing how differently this space must have been used throughout the years: from music to store fronts, to offices, to 384-723 square feet “homes.”
I walked inside. The shop was called “The Witch’s Fix,” and it was beautiful, donning the aesthetic of an apothecary from a different time. There were candles with social justice and anti-capitalist messages made by queer Indigenous artists, and so much more. I bought a pyrite stone and some marshmallow root. While I supported local business, Mila sniffed around, curious about this new space and completely free to roam around inside. Again, she was welcomed. Again, she was legibly privileged.
2) The family or social unit occupying a permanent residence
What is home? I mean, what is it REALLY? 1) The place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household
Remembering what brought me into the store in the first place, I asked the shopkeeper about Treble Hall. She was a very pleasant attendant, who informed me that the space was Hamilton’s first music hall, dating back to 1850. Now it is office spaces and residential spaces for rent, she told me. The gentrification of living spaces and the erosion of the arts became all the more
3) A house or flat considered as a commercial property 4) District or country where one was born or has settled on a long-term basis 5) A place where something flourishes, is most typically found, or from which it originates 6) (of an animal) return by instinct to its territory after leaving it (homing to their summer nesting) 7) (home in on) move or be aimed
towards (a target or a destination) with great accuracy
always: “how might this be taken from me?”
They say “home is where the heart is,” and “home is what [where?] you make it.” Those are ideal expressions, as if choice were involved. As I think back to my formative years, I recall the poem that had the most distinct impact on me. In it, the author writes “Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete?” (Tupac Amaru Shakur). There is a band of us, out there, who have never known home. Not truly, not fully. We have known bedrooms and apartments and lodgings – even familiarity – but not the promise of what home would feel like. I thought back to borders; going through customs to decide if you’re allowed into another country – even if it is your home country, or the opposite: such as the Windrush generation of Jamaicans who had been invited to the UK to work and create a life, whose children and grandchildren are now facing deportation 40 years later, threatened with returning to a Jamaica they have never known. All borders are imaginary, until they are defended.
In the Wake: On Being and Blackness We go through life, searching, looking, sensing: who are my people? Where is it safe? If not here, then where else can I go? And
The precarity of renting, the oppression of “landlords” – especially if they are landlords who also live in the house/apartment, is the discomfort I’ve experienced my entire adult life. Before that, it was the “belonging to,” the “property of ” those I was born to. The child of an abuser, there is no escape. The tethering is so tight that you keep going back because the only language a child has is “this is my home. This is my family. Her: mother. Me: child.” It is only as we stretch and outgrow that we (l)earn vocabulary such as “this is a trauma-bond that my society has normalized because it refuses to consider mental illness, poverty, precarity as descriptive markers of mothering.” Not every situation can have the best made out of it. “I’ll always be your mother” is more menacing than comforting. The answer is to get out. People only leave their homes, risk the dangerous unknown, if that danger is less than they’re already facing.
“You have to understand, no one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land.” – Home, by Warsan Shire
Despite having a full-time job and being “settled,” I was still feeling and processing the ennui of renting and looking for home. I was yet to bear children, but somewhere deep within me, in the recesses of my mind that play when I am on walks and pondering
my past and future, I knew that I would not abuse my children. I could not predict if my own experiences would make me cold, or harsh in the response to a trigger, but I knew that beating and abandonment were not skills, tools, or options to me. What I do know is that I believe in Earthâ€™s networks, from the root systems of trees to the conduits of oceans, to the web of the stars that has guided navigators for centuries. Like the little Black girls who had geometry braided into their hair, I seek to reflect those maps, to expose their power, and amplify their potential energy. As garnet is to pomegranate, as host is to hospitality, humans have constructed a system of meaning, where one exists in Nature and then we name things after those concepts. The Rhizome Project is no different. We created a way of understanding these human constructs, and a mirror through which we can assess our impact on them, and their impact on us.
mental and emotional work to make certain that I was in control of my own being. I read the books, I learned about my energy and power as a Black Aquarius Woman, I took myself in hand and accepted the voyage to
"What I do know is that I believe in Ea networks, from the root systems of tr conduits of oceans, to the web of the guided navigators for centuries."
I shed the internalized and damaging fear that I would become my mother, a reflection, a possibility I was introduced to during my sociology education and informal cultural contact about the likelihood of me living a disenfranchised life because of my Blackness, womanness, poorness and proximity to immigration. I had to do the
understanding, and the visionary aspect of my being, I watched Moonlight more than a few times, I studied the archetype of the wounded healer and the Ugly Duckling and contemplated my own path, I recited a prayer for Lalita, I made for myself a mala (of my birthstone, howlite, rose quartz, and smokey quartz, crystals that remind me to worry less), I smothered shea butter into my skin, thanking Mother Nature for her sacrifices, placing my hands over my womb and honouring my ancestors, welcoming a child who might choose me, and releasing my mother, liberating myself, I sat with my inner child and fed her, reassured her, giving voice and light to her pain, I stayed in the yoga poses that made me feel powerful and peaceful, I healed the chakras that had to do with my root, my womb, my precociousness as a Black woman, I let the words of Audre
Lorde give me permission to find and experience joy, I realized that on some sub- or unconscious level I had chosen Lisa Bonet and Janelle Monae to be my mothers, guides who learned to channel their power, manifest love, create beautiful life, and express creativity, (Foucault was just my teacher), I ran, I sat in the booths on the patio of my favourite restaurant in Toronto and ate poke and gyoza, paired with a half priced bottle of wine shared with Tyler, watching postmodernism, people-watching as close to the curb as cafe culture would allow, I put my feet in the grass, thanked the water, participated in women’s moon rituals, tried my best to meditate and practice patience with myself, I ate the quinoa and coconut oil roasted yams, I looked Mila in the eyes and recited that she is loved and safe, I burned the sage, lit with the white light of the rosescented candle (“dreams come true faster when they smell like roses”), I practiced communication and boundary defense, I walked, I gave myself steam facials with grapefruit oil, lavender tea, apple cider vinegar and lemon, I photographed and thought about connection, I wrote
Earth’s rees to the stars that has
my narrative. I thanked the universe for my time to do this work: too many people feel the grip of capitalism and are not afforded the time to sit with themselves, to walk with their thoughts, and too many women deny themselves this time because service to ourselves first and foremost goes against our ingrained socialization, our beliefs about our purpose and potential, internalized patriarchy. I learned to recalibrate my value system, to reprioritize myself, to recognize that walking was a realization of the ways I am not free as well as a personal-political expressionexpansion of how I could get free. I thought about my freedom, and I trusted my feet. I knew, on some level, that I had broken the cycle of generationally inherited lost-feelings. I was being found. I went back to the places that gave me direction, I nourished the friendships that offered me ports, and I got in tune with my natural instincts, the ones my ancestors instilled in me, and I took flight in my own life.
Z e e n a M h o n e , a s s e e n b y S h e r r y Ye n i k a .
Process of Understanding The
by anonymous. illustrations by Mariam O. A. Oyinloye
I am four years old, and at the Halloween store with my mother. I crane my neck up to look at all the costumes hung on the wall, smiling when I see one that I like. “Mommy, I want that one!” I exclaim and begin to tug at her coat. I watch the smile on her face drop when she sees the costume I have pointed out. “You want to be a ninja? With a toy sword?” She asks and I nod excitedly still tugging on her shirt. My mother removes my hands from her jacket and grips them tightly in her own. “I don’t think you should get that one, baby” she says quietly, already beginning to see the tears well up in my eyes. “But why?!” I say trying to rip my hands from her own, only for her to grip mine tighter and to tell me no once again. As we leave the Halloween store, with my princess costume swinging in my arms, my mother zips up my coat with feverish fingers and a red-lipped smile. I look out into the rain and instinctively, I reach for my hood. “No.” She says, her hands pulling it back down again. “Carry your umbrella instead, okay?” I do not understand.
I am eight years old and watching the news with my mother as we eat dinner. It is just the two of us, my dad left before I was born and this is all I have ever known. A news story on the television comes on of a young black boy who was shot and killed on his way home from work. The police claimed he matched the description of a man that robbed a store just a few blocks down. They shot him on sight. My mom stumbles up from the table with her plate. She tries to make it to the kitchen but I still hear the glass shatter everywhere on the floor. I could hear her sobs from where I was seated, heard her tell me to stay where I was. I drank my water trying to keep the lump that I felt forming in my throat down. The next day, on the way to school I ask my mom if she knew the young boy who was on TV last night. I watch her swallow hard, and her eyes clench shut when she responds no. I ask her why she was so upset then. She tells me I wouldn’t understand, and I don’t. I am nine years old when I realize that my mom is always sad1. I make my own lunches now and I go to my grandma’s house after school. I’m not allowed to tell my grandma that my mom is sad and I don’t understand because I always tell my mom when I’m upset. Friday nights are the only nights when my mom seems slightly normal. She goes out with her friends and I watch her listen to music, get ready, put on makeup, and drink. She offers me a few sips and laughs when I spit the rancid drink each time. I smile and keep trying the drink only to spit it out just so that I can hear her laugh a little while longer. The next morning when I enter her room, she tells me to go away. Says she doesn’t feel good. I ask her if its her head or her tummy, she tells me neither. I don’t understand. I am ten years old, and it's a Friday. Its twelve pm at school and I have always thought my skin was beautiful. But as he looks at me from across the playground, I feel an ugliness slithering up my neck like a wet-scaled snake. “You’re black.” He says matter of factly. “Yeah, so?” I mumble back. “My mom says black people are robbers.” I find a cabinet inside my classroom and I cry harder Mohn, Elizabeth. Transgenerational Trauma. Salem Press Encyclopedia, 2019. People who experience trauma may have trauma-related mental disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety.
than when my grandpa was arrested. I wonder if the boy was right. If I’m a thief by nature. I don’t leave the cabinet until a shrill blaring sets me free. But am I free? I don’t understand. A few months later I find out my mom is pregnant and getting married to a man I barely know. I haven’t been around or talked to any men besides my grandpa so when he reaches down to shake my hand, it stays glued to my side instead. My mom gets mad at me for being rude later on. I tell her I’ll be nicer if it will make her happy. Besides, I’d always wanted a baby brother. My mom’s pregnancy is riddled with complications and she spends most of it in the hospital2. My new stepdad drives me to school. He asks me about my friends, and where their families are from. So I tell him about Katy, and Samantha, and Lizzie and he nods in approval. He tells me to stick to “those kinds” of friends and to not get involved with any “ghetto” girls. I don’t understand. A few months later my baby brother is born, and he is the most beautiful boy I have ever seen. His name is Cameron and he brings sunlight into our apartment, and my mom is the saddest I have ever seen her3. I don’t understand. I am eleven years old and experimenting. I feel beautiful again and my friend Lizzie tells me makeup doesn’t look good on black girls and I cry harder than I did in elementary school. I run to my mother’s room and ask her makeup, plea to it, I beg it, to like me. I slather myself in mascara, lipstick and blush, but Lizzie is right. It looks all wrong and I hate my skin. I hate how I look and I hate that the boys at school tell me black girls aren’t pretty and I want to rid my skin of all its pigment. My mother finds me and collapses and we cry together for a long time. I understand. I am twelve years old, and I am used to being the exotic one. I am used to their fingers crowding my scalp, combing through my braids and asking how I wash it. I am used to the boys who are drawn to the white girls like moths to a flame but repelled by the melanin in my skin. I am used to being picked last and I am used to them telling me to go back to Africa. When I go home and scream my mom tells me, “not all white people, baby.” I do not understand. I am fourteen years old and about to start highschool. The school is predominantly black and I am scared. My step dad told me to stay away from the black kids because they are loud, aggressive and bound for trouble. On the first day of school I cling to Lizzie and let her introduce me to all of her friends. They talk about their summers and how they spent it at their Sullivan, Shannon. Inheriting Racist Disparities in Health: Epigenetics and the Transgenerational Effects of White Racism. Critical Philosophy of Race. Vol.1, No.2 (2013) : Penn State University Press. African Americans, Native Americans, and Pacific Islanders generally have higher rates of coronary artery disease, diabetes, stronke, HIV/AIDS, and infant mortality than white Americans.
Mohn, Elizabeth. Transgenerational Trauma. Salem Press Encyclopedia, 2019.
cottages. I watch a group of black kids pass me in the halls, and I turn my nose up at them when they give me dirty looks. I feel glad that I didn’t turn out ghetto like them, and that the white kids can tell that I am different. A few weeks later, I am walking down the street and am happy and smiling. I bump into someone and I fall. I hear, “watch it” and the n-word and I see my smile roll off of my face and into the streets. And I do not understand. The next time I hear a white girl spit out that terrible word my instincts rip to the surface and I watch myself grab her and toss her to the ground. After my suspension is over, the kids at school call me ghetto and say that I have hands from the hood. They ask if my dad was in a gang and if that’s why he’s not around and, I understand. I am sixteen years old and my brother is six. We’re at the grocery store and I’m paying for our items. He’s whining because I told him we couldn’t get the toy water gun that he wanted. I tell him to be quiet and hand the cashier her money. As I’m grabbing our bags, he squirms from behind me and runs out of the store where two police officers just so happen to be waiting. I watch him pull the toy water gun that we did not pay for outside of his jacket. I run outside, scream his name, feel all the blood drain from my face. The officers approach us and I feel vomit rise in the back of my throat. One of them squats down to my brothers level and says, “Hey there, buddy! What’s your name?” My brother smiles, showing off his two missing front teeth. “It’s Cameron!” He exclaims. The officers laugh and tell me how adorable he is. They pretend to shoot him with his toy water gun before telling us to get home safe. I clutch Cameron’s hand all the way home. I give him dinner and put him straight to bed next to my mother. I shake for the rest of the night, and try to tell myself not all cops are bad. I try and understand. I am eighteen years old and about to go away for university. I got into my first choice, one of the best schools in the country. My grandmother tells everyone, and my mom asks if I’ll still come and visit on the weekends. She tells me how proud she is of me, and even apologizes for being so sad all of my childhood. I tell her it's okay, and that I am only a call away. She hugs me tightly and I try to gather as much of her into my arms, my nose and mind. She tells me to be careful when I’m there and that she began to feel sad when she was at university. I tell myself, I am not like my mother, that there is no way that I could end up like her. Sometimes
I think I hate her, but moments like these show me how much I truly love her and I don’t understand. I am twenty-one years old and in my third year of university. I haven’t been home in nearly three months but Cameron calls me every week to give updates. He tells me he has begun to feel sad like our mom and that it is sometimes hard for him to get out of bed4. He says the kids at school bully him because he always wears the same clothes and never has a lunch. I see red when we hang up and I immediately dial my mother’s number. I yell at her and tell her that she needs to get some help. She tells me that no “white shrink” will ever be able to understand what’s going on in her mind. I feel helpless. I don’t answer Cameron’s calls for the next three weeks. He doesn’t understand. I am twenty-two years old and in my last year of university. I have met a boy who understands. He has brown eyes, and brown skin like my own. His hair is in tightly spun coils and his smile bans any sadness that dares enter into my head. He’s studying to become a psychologist and wants to go to medical school after. Late at night when I can’t sleep I tell him about my family. I tell him about my mom and how she is always sad and how that sadness has begun to seep into my brother as well. I tell him how I also am sad sometimes and how I used to hate my skin and how I could never see myself marrying a black boy. He tells me what I am experiencing is transgenerational trauma and uses a bunch of big words to explain it. I don’t understand. He uses smaller words this time and explains that the same sadness that our ancestors felt, we still feel today5. It is the reason why our people had higher rates of depression, PTSD, and anxiety. Why black women are more likely to have complicated pregnancies and how they are less likely to receive medical 4
Mohn, Elizabeth. Transgenerational Trauma. Salem Press Encyclopedia, 2019.
Parents who experience trauma may also experience anxiety or other trauma related mental disorders. Because of these disorders, parents who experience trauma may have difficulty modeling appropriate coping behaviors for their children when problems arise. As a result, these parents may be teaching their offspring inappropriate coping behaviors. 5
Mohn, Elizabeth. Transgenerational Trauma. Salem Press Encyclopedia, 2019.
assistance6. I kiss him because this is all starting to make sense and I think I understand. I am twenty-five years old and in law school, and I feel on top of the world. My fiance is on the other side of the country in medical school but every time I look down at the engagement ring on my finger a smile takes over my face. Cameron and I call once a week when he drives downtown to buy groceries. He’s only fifteen and doesn’t have his license but tells me he doesn’t want to inconvenience mom. So I stay on the phone with him until he returns home, listen to him struggle with all the plastic bags, until I hear the jingling of his keys open the front door. He asks me why I insist on calling every time he does this. I tell him he wouldn’t understand. I am twenty-six years old and have just gotten married. My husband and I found a small townhouse not too far from our families. We rarely see each other as we are both always working, but every night when we come home together we tell each other about our days and he tells me about his patients. He tells me about how many of the issues that black folk face are transferred transgenerationally, it is just that many of us are not aware of it. I ask him how something socially constructed such as race can have physiological effects. He tells me that the black experience is one of trauma and trauma can manifest into our DNA in a multitude of ways7 and I wonder how I got so lucky to know someone so smart. One night, after hearing him explain how the transgenerational inheritance of racism is perpetuated, we go to sleep. It is only a few hours later that I wake up to twenty-seven missed calls. Bleary eyed, I pick up the phone as it begins to wail again. My husband turns his back to me and shoves his head under a pillow. I answer the phone to the sound of screaming. I look at the caller ID, I ask my mom what is wrong. I tell her to say something, I ask her what has happened, but all I hear are her screams. My grandmother answers the phone, and she tells me turn on the television. As soon as I turn it on I am faced with an urgent news story of a young boy getting pulled over and shot by the police. The officer ran the license plate of the car and knew he wasn’t the owner of it. The officer pulled him over and asked for the boy’s license but he didn’t have one. He told the officer he couldn’t afford it, and just wanted to Sullivan, Shannon. Inheriting Racist Disparities in Health: Epigenetics and the Transgenerational Effects of White Racism. Critical Philosophy of Race. Vol.1, No.2 (2013) : Penn State University Press.
Ramons, Jessica. Handbook of African American Health. The Guilford Press: 2010.
buy his mother some groceries. I drop to the floor and I shake like I did the night he stole that stupid toy water gun. I hear my husband call my name, but I no longer understood it. I ask him to make it stop. He doesn’t understand. I am twenty-eight years old and carrying my third child. I have lost the other two due to birthing complications and panic whenever I don’t feel my baby moving inside me for awhile. My doctor tells me it is because I am not following the proper vitamin regime or that perhaps my body is just not equipped for full term pregnancy8. My body feels broken and I feel the sadness engulf my mind completely. I haven’t spoken to my mom since Cameron’s funeral. I feel bad and I miss her but every time I look at her I see his eyes smiling back at mine. My husband tells me I should get some help. I tell him no “white shrink” will ever understand what goes on in my head. He tells me that I’ve changed and I beg him to understand. I am thirty-three years old and walking my son to school. He bounces and skips ahead of me but always looks back to see if he’s gone too far. I try my best to lift my lips and smile when he looks back at me. Friday nights when I drop him off at his dad’s house for the weekends are the only nights I truly smile. I go out, drink and dance with my friends. My son tells me he has more fun at his dad’s place anyway. As we arrive to the front of the school, police sirens blare in the distance. My son whimpers and wraps his arms around my waist. He is only five and sees the police as a threat to him rather than protection. I rub my hand over his head and try to calm him down. A little girl screams his name, “Cameron! Let’s go and play”. He looks up to me for permission and I smile back at him. He hugs me tighter for a second and says, “Bye Mommy, don’t be sad you’ll pick me up again soon!” I laugh and push him in the direction of his friends. He understands.
Sullivan, Shannon. Inheriting Racist Disparities in Health: Epigenetics and the Transgenerational Effects of White Racism. C ritical Philosophy of Race. Vol.1, No.2 (2013) : Penn State University Press. 8
Existing health disparities between races are not the result of any innate biological or genetic differences, but rather it is the result of being harassed, oppressed, and discriminated against because one is not white.
Above: "Easy, Baby", Opposite: "Unfurling", Next: "Don't Call Me" (left), "Finding Comfort" (top right), "Embrace" (top left)
WAY BACK HOME by Udochukwu Emeka-Okafor Models: Asma Ali, Farhia Ali Assistance: Lorraine Khamali, Theodora Akpovi Styling: Udochukwu Emeka-Okafor Casting: Udochukwu Emeka-Okafor Creative Direction: Udochukwu Emeka-Okafor
The Inscrutable and Lucid Frank Ocean by Rhonda Nebiyou In 2011, a few days after Christmas, a plane lifted off from New Orleans and set off towards Los Angeles – the two major stages on which Frank Ocean’s life had, up to that moment, been performed. In the hushed confines of that plane and solitude of the night, he began to write. The letter he wrote chronicles the idyllic summers over which he first fell in love – summers imbued with stolen glances and shared gazes, and swathed in strokes of resentment and forgiveness. “By the time I realized I was in love,” he writes, “it was malignant. It was hopeless. There was no escaping, no negotiating with the feeling. No choice.” But this fall was not graceful. Ocean plunged into a groundless chasm with a boy he met at the tender age of nineteen, and lamented his unrequited love in the driver’s seat of his Nissan Maxima – he felt the brevity, he breathed the impossibility. Ocean is neither the first nor the last LBGTQ artist to grace the world stage, but this letter remains a seismic moment in the hip-hop sphere, where systemic homophobia runs deep. At the inception of his career as a young black man, he openly breached matter that few dare touch: sexuality as a spectrum. His letter wed melancholy to preservation, because we all have that summer etched on our hearts. Maybe not a summer of love, but a summer of longing. When we want someone, or something, or somewhere – outside of ourselves, for ourselves. It is why Frank’s requiem is felt widely and deeply; it is about the vulnerability that governs us in unspeakable ways, and dares us to reckon with ourselves. Shortly thereafter, Frank released his epochal album channel ORANGE – a stoic nod to the lucidity of that formative summer. Set in motion by a game of Street Fighter II, the scope and timeless philosophy of Ocean’s vision is quickly
realized. He speaks of his African motherland, Sierra Leone; the mental price of affluence; the likening of his lover to the eponymous Forrest Gump; and a makeshift confessional in the back of a taxi cab. We hear soothing melodies that feel familiar, and evocative vocals that implore how one reconciles a burgeoning identity with the overarching groupthink of one’s roots. Every ode feels tangible, relatable and true, because it is entwined with an ineffable humanity that is always hoped for, but never promised. Four long years of radio silence followed, until Ocean stepped back into the limelight with one of the most highly anticipated records of the millennial generation, his second studio album, Blond(e). Ocean delivered as a cultivated soul with nothing to hide, attesting that the exposure of his orange-tinged life did not even begin to scrape the surface of his gravity. Despite his isolation, listeners hear intimate and poignant details about the most vulnerable moments from his life: moments of heartbreak, his visions on an acid trip, emptiness experienced from fruitless encounters, and his fight to keep mind over matter. We hear about his imaginary world where an alter ego caves to a normalized societal structure, when he offers to “settle for two kids and a swimming pool,’ and an alternate universe where a pair of real Nikes triggers the revelation that he, too, looks like the late Trayvon Martin. Much of the album feels like a lucid dream; we reach consciousness somewhere between falling asleep to poignant heartbreak and the first reflection of sunlight at dawn. The release of Blond(e) meant considerably more than just an artist coming back to the studio after a few years off. In actuality, it’s apparent that Ocean took no time off at all, but the perfection of his chronicle kept him up at night over the years. Nonetheless, he has returned comfortable in his own skin, wrestling with his demons, urging his listeners to sense their hearts pulse with the actuality that “summer’s not as long as it used to be,” and a bold vindication that makes limbo sound beautiful. “I feel like a free man.”
Debut album "Hindsight" out now on all platforms
Fervent Energy Passionate for her Music She shines through the Arts
Stills fr o m
"Th e B la ck in the Wh it e " a vid eo es say by Brianne H unte
As a small part of a larger exploration of blackness in white society, I created this video of myself performing in a white space addressing the questions I have towards how to move in white dominated spaces. Through a semester of research, I explored the origins of blackness and the position we find ourselves in today. My performance was an intimation of how black bodies move in white spaces and how they also blend into other black bodies in these spaces. The speech in the video is my own voice, while the text comes from a conversation I had with OCADU faculty and art curator, Andrea Fatona. From looking at black bodies being colonized in America, to the present need to readjust our language and behaviour, my work provides a small insight into the â€œdanceâ€? black people, and people of colour, perform in order to survive in white society. My exploration is not over, and I continue with the grandest question of all of them: Where do we go from here?
Sti l l s f rom
" Th e B lack Art i st" a vid eo e ssay by
B rian n e H unte
This video essay is an exploration of the journey as a Black video and photo based artist. Our work challenges the camera, its original intentions, and makes bodies of colour the subject of the camera. Through the discussion of community, self exploration, histories, and futures, Hunte, and her peer Auset Luxor expose their practice and personal investigations of their bodies versus the typical portrayal of black bodies. As the definition of the Black body changes, the work of artists influences and changes the landscape of the art world and allows different stories to be told.
You Are Women Brian Boateng
My mother raised me, my mother cared for me, my mother nurtured me; My momma. My first love, the woman that held me before she could hold me in her arms. The woman that spoke to me and loved me before she even met me. The woman that loves me with all her heart, all her body and all her soul. My mother. From the day I was born, women taught me to accept all the roses And ignore all the thorns This new found knowledge made me feel so reborn They taught me how to hustle when times got tough To focus on the big things, but never forget the small stuff When my life was in pieces & I didnâ€™t know where to go, angels were sent from above and made my life whole YOU were like a moral compass within, YOU taught me to exercise my mind & not rely on strength from the gym When finances were tight, YOU rose from above, Spreading peace all around like a great white dove When YOU talk, all we do is stare, as YOU are so captivating like a breath of
fresh air YOU can go from being divorced, and overwhelmed paying loans and fees, to stepping out the shadows and becoming who YOU were meant to be YOU are Wealthy in the possessions YOU own, putting effort into everything, as if YOUR in the zone YOU are Optimistic for the future & YOU never back down, YOU bring joy to others even when YOU have a frown YOU are Majestic in the way YOU walk, talk, & the swagger you display, As if YOU are the predator and the world is YOUR prey YOU are Educated in every way shape or form, & never controlled by societal norms YOU are Number one, & ready to claim YOUR throne, as YOU are not just leading the way, but YOU are setting the tone YOU ARE WOMEN
Loving, as an inside out concept Shaza Elnour
Hold my hands gently, my heart is on my sleeves And as delicate lace does, It tears at the slightest touch. Kiss my neck softly. Though cold words pour out from it, your teeth are sharp and cut through me like butter. Cup my arches and overflowing curves like you hold hot tea; Nimbly and carefully. Glimpse at me But not too long I am re-learning how to be adored. Then, catch the honey and silk - coloured like milk that pours from my hips with your lips.
Dear Black Girl Fareeda Baruwa
Dear BLACK girl, You are beautiful. Your rich cocoa skin tells the tales of hardship and labor. Your soft brown eyes tell the stories of colonization and the fight for redemption at the hands of those who stole your freedom. Your plump lips speak words of wisdom, and retell stories where humanity was once great. Your kinky hair are as strong as the roots of your family tree, that travel centuries back. Dear BLACK girl, in a world where your skin color is associated with violence, poverty, and destruction, don’t forget that you are beautiful. Don’t forget that you are a Melanin Queen. Your curvaceous hips were the support system of legends your ancestors passed on, now carried on your back. Dear BLACK girl, you are the true epitome of beauty, you are your greatest weapon, don’t let anyone use you against you. Dear BLACK girl, you are as beautiful as black roses that stand tall in defiance, as tall as those mountains, never giving in to those who want to bring you down, and crush every one of your black petals. Dear BLACK girl, stand tall with your back straight and don’t let those who look down on you ever take away the beauty that lies inside of you, because you are you, and you are the greatest at being you, when will you realize that?
G LORIA ITORO
Above: Linda Nghipulile in "Flamingo", Opposite: Benhard Amutse in "Setting West", Next: Dre Martin Haileka and Iyaloo Mwafeinge in "Texture", Next next (left): Dre Martin Haileka in "Bright Eyes", Next next (right): Linda Nghipulile in " Afrofuturism Meets The Ovambo Tribe"
Morgan Martin I’ve always known I was black. No one ever had to tell me. I just had to look in the mirror, Look at my parents And my family members. Feel my hair texture. There was no sit-down conversation Where someone said, “Hey, I just want to break it to you,” “You’re black.” It was common knowledge. It was obvious. But I guess somewhere along the way That changed. Not to my knowledge. “You’re whitewashed.” “You’re so white.” I’ve heard these statements more than once. But what does that even mean? To those who don’t know me, They see a black woman When I walk into a room, When they see me at the mall,
Or the grocery store. But to those who do, It seems that something about me Changes their perception. I began to think, What qualities about myself Could make people think this way? Some would say I’m A bit shy, Hardworking, Intelligent. Is there some sort of rift Between those qualities And being black? I never associated My hobbies, My passions, My interests, My dreams, My aspirations, My personality, With the fact that I was black. It was always This is me And
Constantly being pulled between Stereotypes and labels. Believe me when I say I have lived a black experience. And believe me when I say, I am proud Of my roots in African soil. I am proud to be an ebony flower And no one can ever take that away from me.
I am black. Last time I checked “Black” and “white” Are not personality traits. The way I act or speak Does not make me any less black. To call someone who is not white, “White,” Is to assume a level of privilege That they do not have. Is to assume a lived experience That they do not have. Is to undermine The lived experience That they face every day. It diminishes the struggle That my ancestors faced. That I have faced. I know what it’s like To have to prove myself In environments where it seems like I do not belong. I know what it’s like To live a tug-of-war.
Shenika Hamilton aka Sad Black Girl
Sad Black Diary
AVERY JACKMAN IF ONLY YOU KNEW...
Centuries of Struggle Ehab Sati
*Ehab is a Sudanese Wilfred Laurier University student
Centuries of struggle. But we always manage to smuggle our pride. They try to oppress us and depress us, But we ain't got nothin' to hide. A track record of adversity and always overcoming. They do whatever they can to scare us, but you won't ever catch us running. Instead, we rise to the occasion, Let â€˜em know we here. We strugglin', survivin', but we gon persevere. For every bullet that got shot and every trigger that got pressed. For every innocent soul, Who took that bullet to the chest. For every wrongful conviction, and maximum sentence. Every black man that came out angry at the world, And came back with a vengeance. No more crabs in the bucket, this time everybody eat. If we're our only competition, then we don't ever have to taste defeat. I could go on for hours, About our Wakanda resources and black powers. If united we stand then united we shall succeed. Forget about the bloods and the crips, let's just stop seeing each other bleed.
Photography by Gonzalo Soto
J'LE NN JAMES
Shae-Ashleigh Owen I see it I still see it every day Every time I wake up Every time I went to bed When I breathe, I see it I saw your scars in me I saw the ways you viewed me Loud and abrasive Dull and tiny The first to be killed The first to die The first to be sexualized For the gaze of a guy “But you did it to yourselves” “Look at your hands” “If you had standards” “We will view you as humans” That was the past And some still last However, still we have taken control There are new stories been told Strong mothers Cunning wives Supportive best friend Intelligence sisters New generation of superheroes. The scars from the past remains That scars that black women face Will always be there But they are slowly healing These scars will never be the same
C L I N I C A L S U R V E I L L A N C E by Shari Ghenoi Williams
P I TCH Black Mag.
Issue 1 | Feb 2020
Celebrating Black expression. Download: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1E3MftjLUS3iC815Xzrrsw8XnBu4jltTK/view?usp=sharing