Lioness

The McGill Daily - - Contents - Kath­leen Charles The Mcgill Daily

con­tent warn­ing: mi­croag­gres­sions, mixed race strug­gle

Iam the daugh­ter of mi­grat­ing li­onesses My an­ces­tors, hun­gry for ad­ven­ture and hope­ful that the grass may be sweeter and more vi­brant To­wards the other side of the ocean, I fol­lowed their foot­steps I whole­heart­edly ac­cepted my her­itage; my wan­der­ing soul; I am the sor­cer­ess of the night and the mis­tress of day­light, I too made my­self a siren to cross oceans and fi­nally re­al­ize Who I am: An artist over­joyed I speak with my hands I let them create the world I wish I knew I let them lead me to the col­ors hid­den deep... Deep Deep Within me there’s un­ease I’m un­com­fort­able Twist­ing, shift­ing in my seat There’s some­thing wrong There’s a hand... in­vad­ing my sa­cred space There’s a hand that feels it­self en­ti­tled to the crown rest­ing on my head There’s a hand search­ing blindly, des­per­ately, wildly through my scalp for the last pre­cious rem­nants of un­sus­pect­ing trea­sure from my an­ces­tors There’s a hand in my hair Stroking and pat­ting me like one would an an­i­mal in a zoo Stroking and pat­ting me the way slave mas­ters used to This white, pale, and bony hand has no re­gard for con­sent. This cold corpse-like hand of the woman who calls her­self my pro­fes­sor This cold corpse-like hand of my op­pres­sor Search­ing for rem­nants of life with hands that have been known to bring death in the past Her hands au­da­ciously linger In my hair And I am pow­er­less, for in these very hands rest my prospects for suc­cess So, I smile. Like the docile “mulâtresse” that I am, And I fan­ta­size about the cig­a­rette that will soothe my scalp of the first mi­croag­gres­sion of the day. I’ve lost all my safe spaces. I am in­vis­i­ble yet un­com­fort­ably vis­i­ble wher­ever I go. Sta­tis­ti­cally ir­rel­e­vant. A drop of colour in a sea of Cau­casian com­po­si­tion A drop of colour on a land stolen from those of coloured tra­di­tion If there were no mir­rors on this cam­pus I think I’d die from lack of con­fir­ma­tion Of my own ex­is­tence Be­cause there ex­ists scarce re­flec­tion; sparse rep­re­sen­ta­tion Of my own ex­is­tence And I don’t want to just do it my­self; create the spaces where I can just be Be­cause I wanna just... be.

I am the daugh­ter of mi­grat­ing li­onesses My hair grows wild around my face like an un­con­ven­tional halo of bless­ings, and mem­o­ries, and re­minders that I was born at the para­dox of priv­i­lege and peren­nial plight. Al­though white priv­i­lege was mixed into the color of my skin I choose to em­brace the side of me that em­braces me back White priv­i­lege does seem ap­peal­ing at times, but hon­estly… color me black

Al­though I know how to dance and love among those of ul­ti­mate priv­i­lege, This time my toes are get­ting un­bear­ably sore I can’t twirl, jump, sway, jive or thrive… like I could be­fore. It’s com­ments like “why do you make ev­ery­thing about race?” that catch me off guard. Drain me of my en­ergy and force me to recharge More of­ten. Again and again and again and again I must re­turn to my core to heal the sores I have From be­ing put on trial for hav­ing an opin­ion about my pain I make ev­ery­thing about race be­cause I am con­stantly made aware of my race. Walk a day in my shoes. I dare you.

I am the daugh­ter of mi­grat­ing li­onesses So, I make my­self a new home wher­ever my wan­der­ing feet lead me and I fill my rooms with sculp­tures and paint­ings that come to life, singing sweet ser­e­nades over my scars. I lose my­self in my art and find my­self in the birth of ev­ery mas­ter­piece A re­minder of my in­tel­li­gence A re­minder of my worth A re­minder of the ded­i­ca­tion to the dreams I hold deep Deep Deep Deep Within my heart I feel out­rage The great grief that grips me as I open my eyes and wit­ness the ghosts of geno­cides past I’m in a class­room where his­tory is be­ing fed to me through the lens of colo­nial­ism I want to scream as I’m taught to for­get the black slaves of Que­bec I want fire to flare from my gaze the way Marie-joseph Angélique set Old Port ablaze In 1734, she longed to be a slave no more. I want to protest as I’m en­cour­aged to for­get the In­dige­nous peo­ples who protested The kid­nap­ping of their chil­dren by holy men in black robes White men with black in­ten­tions A cul­tural geno­cide that con­tin­ues to haunt them to­day I want to roar as I’m told to re­lin­quish their pain to bit­ter­sweet hap­pily- ever-af­ter con­clu­sions of Cana­dian his­tory But my class­mates lis­ten qui­etly As the teacher paints a story That’s beg­ging me to for­get, for­get, for­get For­get? I am the only brown body in this room so par­don me not if I can­not for­get But once again I reach for my cig­a­rette To soothe my­self of the sec­ond mi­croag­gres­sion of the day

I am the daugh­ter of mi­grat­ing li­onesses And I refuse to let a curse kill my leg­endary en­thu­si­asm I got that caramel curse That mixed girl melan­choly That melanin faded That dark­ness evaded That ob­scure clar­ity But, my hair grows around my face like a lion’s mane. I am the only lioness you’ll ever see with a crown that casts shad­ows lordlier than any lion’s mane And like ev­ery good lioness I am a sworn pro­tec­tor of the weak­est mem­bers in my pack A pack of melanated bod­ies within which I find refuge from the fire of white fragility I will soothe this pain With the oils, waxes, herbs, can­dles, flow­ers and but­ters my mother taught me to use I will break this curse With the maps of mi­gra­tion my an­ces­tors left in my shoes I will find my way Step by step re­con­struct­ing my men­tal health Find­ing refuge in sis­ter­hood and in the art re­nais­sance of this new age Know­ing that I’m not alone Know­ing that I’m not alone

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