Category Archives: Catch The Replay

About A Married Man

“I want to ask you a question.” I smiled up at him.

“Okay.” He smiled back.

“You have to promise to answer the question honestly.”

“Okay.”

“Are you married?”

“Yes.”

My smile faded.

He remained seemingly unaffected. “So now what?”

“What do you mean?” I struggled.

“Well you asked me that question and I answered it. What now? There must have been a reason you asked. Why did you ask?”

“I feel like you’ve been flirting with me.”

“I have been flirting with you.”

“That’s not okay, you’re married—”

“I know it’s wrong but I want to flirt with you, I’m choosing to do it.”

I was visibly disappointed.

“I still want to read your stories.”

I walked away.

I hadn’t even noticed him but he did everything right. He spoke to me just enough that I’d know he was there but not so much that he seemed overeager. He waited a few days to introduce himself and ask me about my name—its meaning and origin. He waited a few more days to ask me out and didn’t appear discouraged when I said I wanted to get to know him a little better before meeting him outside the gym. He disclosed a little information at a time about his interests and accomplishments to combat my apprehension. He read one of my short stories and actually understood it. He also gave me his work email address. He did not press me for my phone number even after we’d exchanged several emails. He suggested activities that I could explore but didn’t angle for an invitation to any of them. It was all compliments, eye contact, watching and connecting. I didn’t want him to say yes, but I wouldn’t have asked if I thought the answer was no. To my surprise, it did hurt me. Sharing a story for so many who write—it’s intimate. It’s like taking everything off so the voice of every stretch mark and curve can speak unencumbered by the penances of indecency.

I know a few prolific cheaters and in some way they’ve all informed my view of sex. When I was going through puberty it was biology and a means to procreate. A definition bereft of colour. Now, I picture it like messy, greasy paint spilling over the lines or poorly managing to stay within them. It doesn’t really start anywhere specific, it just isn’t until it is. I’m still abstinent and I have to admit that I never really think about sex in the context of the other. In my mind it’s always about me, about something I want to feel. I want the pleasure that cannot hurt me. On most days knowing this is enough to keep me sound but when I’m self destructive, I realise how dangerously impressionable I am. So I hide or I demean me to save someone else the trouble. Or maybe because I’m the evil I know.

It has been suggested, “…women’s bodies are sites of patriarchal power and are spaces where men are at their most oppressive, and women are most oppressed”. I believe this to be true in the case of reproductive health where women are often denied agency over their own bodies. However, I cannot escape its applicability in the context of this post. Archaic express and implied policies and practices cite and impress upon women a responsibility to supply pleasure even if it is to their detriment. For instance, several countries did not and some still do not recognize marital rape as a crime. Don’t even get me started on female genital mutilation; they were worried about a woman straying and responded by absconding with her satisfaction. I have a very distant relative that was brutalized beyond recognition and murdered this year by a physically abusive man she left upon discovering he had multiple wives. Seeing him one last time cost her her life. She couldn’t live anymore because he couldn’t live knowing she breathed and it wasn’t for him. That’s the world we live in now. She says no and he kills her.

Honesty.
I found his wife on Instagram, it’s what prompted me to ask. She doesn’t post any pictures of him or them and I wonder if this is more about him than her. She seems better than decent and I think she might love Jesus. I love Jesus. She’s a white foreigner and there’s also a child. It scares me that our ever-evolving patriarchy makes it increasingly difficult for women to not hurt other women. I don’t have a covenant with her. He does. I don’t owe her anything. He does. Yet he waited for me to ask. I had to pay attention or I’d have missed it. I could have been the other woman, the one he calls when his daughter is asleep and his wife is rummaging through the fridge for a late night snack to accompany the movie she’ll fall asleep to in his arms. I could have been the one he writes love letters to to feel young again. I could have been the one that causes him to shuffle uncomfortably at the dining table every time a notification sounds on his phone. Or maybe the reason it’s on silent half the time. But my mother didn’t raise that woman. So my conscience couldn’t rest with uncertainty. I asked and now I know. Now I am bound by a duty of care to a woman I have made no promises to before God because I have a married best friend, because I want my sisters’ to have good marriages and because I want my person to be mine.

I think I’m more vulnerable with black men. I think I always have been and that too scares me. I’m unmistakably attracted to them, I have a desire to learn how to love them right and when I picture giving myself to someone, they’re black hands that touch me and black lips that taste me—he doesn’t need to be naturalized, he’s at home in me and dying for ourselves is dying for each other.

There’s this meme in circulation that reads, “When you love another Black person, you have to love each other through 500 years of broken promises, pain, and oppression. When we say Black love, it’s not just about some Black people being in love; it’s the most revolutionary thing you can do”. Imagine that. The resilience of our community, the struggle that we are born into and sustained by—imagine the euphoria of a love that insists on its time. Why wouldn’t I want it? More importantly, why wouldn’t I want it with a black man that wants it with just me? As a father, you could be the man your daughter hopes to marry or the familiar sadness she acquiesces to. So I ask this man, don’t you want her to be joyful and confident? Doesn’t she deserve laughter and genuine, constant, irrevocable love? If so, how will she fare when you tell her her mother was not worthy by entertaining another woman?

I don’t hate him for being married to someone who isn’t black. I despise that he expected me to be okay with settling for the parts of him that he feels he doesn’t owe her. Whatever bits of his person he’s reclaiming over a decade later to carelessly share with someone who will help him recognise himself. My coarse hair and his, my scars and his blemishes, the blood and bone that has fed and shaped us—death buried in the ground, mouth to root inflating blades of grass and trees with air saved from the days of life. Our shadows have long been allies…then he bid on the sun. He sought to own the light we rely on. Would he kill me? Will he kill me?

I love being a black woman. I love being a woman! I love my skin, I love my mind and my body. So hear me when I say with or without a black man, I am black love.

Because I choose it.

Because one day, it’ll choose me.

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I wanna go home.

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When someone you love, loves.

Long distance love is hard. It’s caring for people in ways you can’t ask to be thanked for and making peace with how much their absence will affect your joy. It’s finding the familiar in all the stages you’ve missed—a constant that makes it so that there is, hopefully, always space for you, even when their lives are so different and their behaviors so unrecognizable. It’s meeting their new loves, learning their new habits and accepting the new order of priorities they have chosen to acknowledge.

I have known and loved my friend Jay for over 15 years and going to India for her wedding was the first time we have seen each other in 12. She continues to laugh like she invented funny and the sincerity of her affections is still so precious. Most notably different? Her joy is abounding and it shows in how confident she is when music compels her to move. If ever she was stunned by the magnificence of the rainbow, I am almost certain it too has been arrested by the splendor of her worth.

I figure the pictures might do a better job summarizing the experience:

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At the end of Hindu weddings, the bride and groom are escorted out by their friends and family. It is at this point that the bride has to say goodbye to her immediate family and close relatives as she now belongs with her in-laws. I am told it is emotional for everyone; spectators and those close enough to feel the change in dynamic. Indeed as I stopped, camera-in-hand and surrounded by strangers brushing tears from their cheeks, I witnessed Jay weep as her arms found the warmth that raised her, holding tightly for the last time. It was a beautiful moment and one I feel fortunate enough to have been present for. I watched as her father took off his glasses to subtly wipe tears from his eyes and as her sister savored her embrace to steal as much time as she could manage. I watched as her mother smiled bravely, and wondered where she sourced her comfort and strength. It scared me to think that I have loved her so long and not once in the entire wedding did I need to fight back tears or summon the strength to keep it together. I say ‘scared’ because it made me question whether we are still as close as I’d imagined. I thought perhaps the distance did in fact have an adverse effect. Why wasn’t I as emotional as everyone else?

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Alas, as I packed my clothes in preparation for my flight, it dawned on me that in truth our teenagehood had been bought out by her new reality. We probably won’t ever have another sleepover where we laugh at nothing on the living room floor of her parents’ house in the dark. I won’t get to play pranks on her with the help of my sister when she’s spending the night at mine. Even those things that for so long have been impossible with continents between us—even those we will no longer be able to do should our continents meet. That sense of loss her family and some of her friends felt, the one I struggled to connect with during the wedding, well it finally hit home. She belongs to something I am in no way entitled to. The dynamic of our friendship will change yet again and hopefully that familiarity that has bonded us all these years, will survive the changes.

So in the wake of my realisation and subsequent heartache, I will celebrate her joy and wish her and the truest love of her life a partnership that finds its rhythm in the chaos of every beat they are yet to encounter. May the songs of his soul keep her dancing and the light of her warmth be his home.

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“I hate my hair.” She said.

My beautiful niece, you are already the rainbow’s source of light. You are certainly the bloody battle. You don’t like your hair and that worries me. It worries me that already at six years tender, you are so conscious of a standard of beauty that I fear was never meant to favor you. A standard you will find accommodates very few people of our color.

When I was younger, your grandmother had a rule that I could not get my hair chemically relaxed until I was at least twelve/thirteen, so until then it was in its natural state. Coarse, tangled and wildly disobedient. I found comfort in braids, much the same as you do now, but my mother also had a rule that we had to occasionally let our hair breathe. This meant after a month of three-strand braids or twists, I would have at least a week’s cooling-off period in which she would do protective styles at night before I went to sleep, and leave me to decide what I wanted to do with it during the day. I loathed the combing sessions. I remember wincing and squirming in my seat. Letting out the occasional Ouch mommy! followed by my fingers rubbing fiercely against my scalp; a look of frustration coming over me as I began to regret living. It felt like torture, and it was only after many, many years that I realized how tormented my mom must have felt as well. She had no choice but to learn how to braid hair and do cornrows because going to hair salons to your mom, your auntie Nyiha and me, was like marathon running to fish- it just wasn’t meant to be. So I can only imagine what it took for your cucu (grandmother) to psych herself up for the intense and arduous task of doing her children’s hair. A mountain of resistance exhausting every ounce of patience she had on reserve. But you know what, she did. And each Ouch mommy! that escaped my mouth was met with a sorry baby and a little pause, and somehow we got through it.

When I was in the sixth grade I moved to a new school. I did not know anyone yet and during one of my very first break times, I remember dragging my feet and trying to waste what time I could in the classroom so I would not have to sit alone outside. My hair happened to be breathing, so that day I’d decided to go to school with my hair in a ponytail. Naturally, it did not lay flat and smooth like the Caucasian girls’ hair in my class, spilling effortlessly over their shoulders and down their backs. It was spongy and the resisting coils fought for height. The puffy tufts shot through the other side of the hair tie, sticking up in defiance. As I stood in the classroom, fishing through my bag for my snacks, I noticed two white boys standing a few desks down, studying my features.

“Look at her hair. What’s wrong with it?” Boy A spoke with such disgust.

“It looks so ugly.” Boy B opined.

“Mmm, she’s not pretty.” Boy A concurred.

I was devastated. I knew then that lonely would have been better than the alternative I’d unwittingly chosen. In that moment I lamented my ethnicity, my culture and my difference. I took their words to be definition of my appeal as a young girl. I was ugly, my hair- abominable. That was that! I decided from that point forward, never again would I let them see me with my hair out. Braids City, population: Me.

Your mother told me a couple months ago that you cried and begged to stay home from school because your hair was undone. You did not even want to get out of the car at the grocery store because you feared the harsh, anticipated words of strangers offended by your afro. As you know now, I know just what that feels like. Many other black girls and women do too. But, my baby, it is not yours to own that another being should pass judgment on your value in the world, substantiated by archaic dogma. You stem from a line of people who were denigrated and demoralised so severely for our features, it has taken decades if not centuries to learn how to appreciate our own reflections. That is why I say you are the bloody battle. Because wars were fought for you, sweet child. Men and women shed blood so you could celebrate who you are without regard for someone else’s subjective opinion. So you could walk proudly into any grocery store, or sit in your classroom confident that you own the standard of beauty by which you choose to live. That the criteria are set by you and for you to celebrate YOU!

You remark on the growth of my dreadlocks every time you see them: “Auntie Gendo, they’ve grown. They’re growing!”

I laugh because I’m excited that you’re excited to see something different that our texture of hair is capable of. You see, baby, it took me standing in front of the mirror, straightener in hand, watching strands of my relaxed hair fall out with each stroke to realize I was honoring the wrong person. I was trying to emulate someone who would never be a representative of my heritage, my community or my struggle. So I cut my hair. I started over and I blocked out any person who dared tell me I was not in my element. But I still hated the combing and protective styling. So I decided to let my hair do what it had been trying to do since I was a kid- I let it lock. I embraced the coarseness, the coils and the beauty of its rebellion.

Zela, love of my life, perhaps it will help you someday to see your hair the way I see mine. It is multilayered not one-dimensional. Your hair is not just an accessory for your face; it is the story of your people. A living narrative that you should wear with pride because it is written in the blood of those you owe your dreams. Those people who were locked up for believing you deserve civil rights. The ones who chose your life over their own. Those people who I’m certain- if they could be resurrected- would say it was worth it. We cannot afford to hate a part of ourselves that is so indicative of a resilience more powerful than bullets and laws.

Sometimes I genuinely wish I could clone you for a day if only to give you the chance to see how incredible you are. So you could study your features and fall in love with the versatility of your hair. I hope that when you watch this video in your later years and read this post, you save yourself a lesson I had to learn the hard way.

Our conversations will change as you get older. But one thing will always be consistent:

That I love you more than you will ever be able to handle,

Auntie Gendo.

 

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My Dark Skin

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My skin is like patch work. Different parts of my body are different shades of dark brown. Contrasting colors indicate where my arms have entertained the dancing sun and where my skin has hidden from the light. The different tones are bold symbols of movement, a defined surface area permanently singed in memory of where my feet have travelled. Yet this skin I wear is reviled by so many though it is the color of bare earth. It boasts a heritage rich as the soil, and a resilience coarse as violence. I am obsessed with it. I will always be obsessed with it.

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Still In Love With Him

I’ve been finding it difficult to feel anything for a few years now. I don’t really like to be touched in any way and it feels like an invasion of my personal space when anyone tries to engage with me beyond necessity. I am repelled by crowds and the only place my heart feels settled is on undeveloped land, with fresh air and cleaner skies- no expectations, no conversations, just peace.

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Breathing

Alas on this earth, one cannot live as an island, frolicking among the speechless green and brown furnishings of the earth. So when I do have to engage, I am assisted only by courtesy and whatever vessel in me demands performance of cultural, social and professional duty.

Lately, however, there has been one person I have wanted so desperately to speak with. The image below is of my grandfather’s Pass Book. During the colonial era in Kenya, blacks were required to keep a Pass Book that contained ruled pages titled Movement Permit. These pages would be filled-in stamped and signed by a white issuing officer that would record in detail the permissions, validity, purpose and destination (among other things) of the Pass Book holder that needed to travel to a different part of the country. My Guka (grandfather) was allotted a number, visible in the picture below that was used to identify him. Every time I look at this, I am overtaken by anger and pain. How any man could impose borders on those who are born of the land they seek to roam is well and truly beyond my level of comprehension. Yet, here is proof that such men lived.

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Still, my grandfather, though ill-treated in his own country, found light in life and became a lantern illuminating the paths of many. When I was child I remember the way he used to embrace me when he would visit, and how he would discipline me in playful ways that made me want to be better. I remember how I could never get my small arms to fit around him because of his big stomach and I always thought he must have had so much love to give it was bursting at the seams. I remember how he spoke to me and the effort he made to be patient and listen to what I had to say. I remember how his stubble used to brush against my cheeks when I would jump onto the seat beside him for a cuddle. I remember the scent of his clothes and the loud slurps he would make when he sipped hot tea. I remember the way he would smile when he was proud of something I said or did, and the warmth of his hands when he held mine.

He’s dead. Has been for many years. Out of desperation I went to go look for glimpses of him in my other grandfather’s eyes and was reminded that no one man’s words are a replica of another’s heart. Now I don’t believe in talking to gravestones, but if I could send any letters to heaven:

Guka,

It still hurts to know you’re gone. Lately, I don’t really know what I’m doing. I am lost in my own ambition and disgruntled by my failure to accept pragmatism and mediocrity as living. I have no real idea of what it is I want from life anymore and no real connection to the ground on which I stand. How did you find God in the chaos of such a dark period of history? Where did you source the strength to keep going?

If you could come back just for a moment, and hold me up while we walk for a while- I think I could use the company. Thing is, I’m stuck loving you until the rain doesn’t know how to fall anymore. Until the sand is so dry and rough that it cuts the breeze and the bleeding wind wets the thirsty earth.

Gendo

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The Sun’s Retreat

I’ve never been in love with the sun, I’ve always found peace under darker skies. Not because I crave the wake of indiscretion, but because I covet the moon’s quiet embrace. No majestic rays command unsettled existence and yet the glitter of stars guide lovers of night. What greatness is bestowed upon the earth by such gentle light- the glow of a fatigued feature placed beyond the reach of man, pilfering song until the wind is the only whisperer.

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Are you my village husband and which way to the Biafran War please?

About the black community’s seemingly non-existent reading culture destined to kill us. (Seriously though, it’s a problem!)

I often wonder if the mountains dream of being hills and if raindrops fear the boorish sea. If I were to live the narrative of that which is said to represent me, I could not operate without reference. My hair on its own could not abide an angry breeze and my skin would be a little lighter and a little darker all at once. My speech would be interrupted by foreign concept- language and pronunciation I would dread play subject to test. I would hurt for reasons unbeknownst to me, and weep over trials that wrongfully add to the credit of my soul; ignoring the true toxicity in which my ambition for so long has been submerged. I would fall in love with a man in a village- our village. I would fall in love with a recalcitrant political refugee escaping detention. I would write privilege with love and the characters that bury themselves in my heart would force a ballad of appreciation to remind me of my blessings and limited acceptance. I would have to beg an application of inanimate objects to present a body employed by standard. I would need to know of a hardship of the mind that would make me heroic in thought beyond my education, and still humble and happy. I would belong to a classified people. They would hear themselves in me because I would avoid all intolerable displays of my individuality petitioning silence. I would buy my happiness from heroes of a different race or class; cheap spoils for the lesser being. My woes would be chosen for me and mental illness would only ever make me seem crazy, not wise and knowledgeable of the sins of our world. I would be someone I have never known enough to write. I would be someone I have never been able to resonate with.

This week I got my first full manuscript submission response. I stared at the alert on my computer, panicking in excitement and wishing there was another version of me that could deliver the news. I picked at my fingernails, busying myself with light work to steady my breaths. Eight weeks I have waited for what I can now confirm is a kind rejection from what I can only assume is a lovely individual entitled to her own tastes and values. This is surely the pain of writing; that one is prohibited from human emotion because there is simply no one to blame. I cannot hate myself for not fitting the mold and simultaneously, I cannot hate her for not seeing beauty in the cracks. We are two individuals; different worlds and different loves. We are women of different worth in this world and on this occasion our differences did not make us better, just different.

While many aspiring and established writers have known/will know the inexorable pain of a form rejection, a critique or a blatant dismissal of acknowledgment, the hope is that a waiting crowd will call foul and force a conversation that has not already been started. A conversation only that underrepresented voice can start. You see, it is not a rejection of my words that threatens my spirit; it is the scale that weighs its relevance, the absence of a strong enough African/Black reading culture to provoke the necessity for my presence in literature.

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I hated reading when I was growing up. I couldn’t resonate with the characters in the books, furthermore, my primary and high school teachers took the fun out of it by insisting an author’s words only had one meaning, and to interpret against the grain was to disrespect the purpose of language. So I grew up believing that one only read novels to pay homage to language, and not appreciate the value of a human being’s organized account of chaos. I numbed my senses to scripted records of society because these writers who took time to lecture me, did not want me to resonate with them, only offer my respect for their toil.

“I wrote my first novel because I wanted to read it.” -Toni Morrison

As much as I hated reading, however, I loved to write. Poetry drenched in spelling errors on primed recycled paper, prose about suicide and dying and speeches addressed to no one. One day as I transcribed my genius onto my mother’s Power Macintosh in my father’s study, I leaned over and picked up a book off his desk. Pages of Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom brought my heart to life and the euphoria of Madiba’s soul speaking to mine unapologetically pilfered my attention. To this day, this feeling has only ever been replicated once by Barack Obama’s Dreams from my Father. So beautifully as these men wrote their stories, so magnificently did they share their worth. I fell in love with their anger, their frustration, their identity crises and their durability. Then came James Baldwin and Langston Hughes, Virginia Woolf and Octavia Butler, Oscar Wilde and George Orwell. I fell in love with reading because finally I could hear the voices of the writers and we spoke with such careless feeling; they were entitled to their version of reality and I was entitled to my interpretation of their chronicles. But in all their stories, for all the struggle that had birthed their greatness they did not represent me. They did not package my voice for the masses.

“But you do discover that you are a writer and then you haven’t got any choice.” -James Baldwin

So I write because the bridge between this world and me is so insecure that only the sound of weeping rail dare attempt prevention of my fall, if only my steps should continue beyond shallow warning. I pray constantly and I query desperately, that I may not waste my mind and my passion. Stories where he yells and she cries and they break each other because he is just a man and she is only his accidental daughter. Stories where she is middle class, educated and still scaling the lowest rung of the ladder because this world has presented no allies to ensure her happy ending. Metaphoric shackles and her hair a metaphor still. Stories of reckless ambition challenged by a world where citizenship is the caped villain that hinders the protagonist’s progression. She has dreadlocks, dark skin and rotates her collection of skinny jeans. She doesn’t have Sarah Baartman’s large breasts, a West African Accent, or a loincloth, though she is born of Africa and so bound by its incumbent iniquities. What a tragedy it is that she and many others may never be acknowledged, because our community has neglected to add weight to our worth and support true representations of our demographics and our diverse obstacles. Why must we hurt ourselves by refusing a variety of narratives in favour of one that will constantly fail to represent all?

Alas, it would appear those of us who are different, who don’t fit the mold are writing our records for an empty room. Perhaps this is why I often wonder if the mountains dream of being hills and if raindrops fear the boorish sea.

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“I don’t like you because you’re black.” He said to my niece.

Yesterday was the day I have been dreading since my niece’s birth. The day she became the target of overt racial discrimination for the first time. Our vivacious, sweet and innocent babe- only 5-years-old, attended a birthday party, where the white birthday boy said:

“I don’t like you because you’re black.”

My sister (her mother) pulled her aside and asked her to repeat what the little boy said.

“He wants to be my friend?” My niece responded confused, proceeding to play with her other friends from day care.

My sister and niece were the only two people of colour present at the party. Friends of the parents of the birthday boy laughed the statement off, trying to make light of the situation, while the mother employed damage control devices like trying to divert my sister’s attention to the food and drinks. The father of the boy did not say anything, choosing to avoid my sister and my niece for the rest of the day. Noticing my niece did not seem to have understood what had actually happened, my sister decided not to leave the birthday party, as she did not want to have to explain to my niece what had been said to her, and why she could not play with the rest of her actual friends for the rest of the afternoon. Why they had been invited to a party at all by racists is well and truly beyond all of us.

I have experienced racism countless times in Australia, having lived on both the east and west coast. It is something I have accepted will always be part of human existence. As long as history cannot be altered, there will always be those who substantiate the transgressions of the wicked and still preach human rights and civility with blood dripping from their hands. All while simultaneously condemning the ostensible weaknesses of oppressed marginalized groups denied the right to repercussions of slavery, colonization, apartheid, genocide or segregation. Even still, I have maintained that neither white, nor black or anything in between, are inherently good or evil. We choose who we become. Sometimes we are a product of experience, or live our lives around fears or preconceived notions. We hate what has hurt us and we love only that which gives us a dose of euphoria. This is more apparent as we grow and form our own opinions or subscribe to other peoples.

However, ultimately, when we are adults, we make conscious decisions to live our lives in a manner that is indicative of our beliefs and values. We are expected in the eyes of the law to be accountable for our actions and words, because we are old enough and presumably wise enough to discern what is right from what is wrong. Children do not have the luxury of accountability. They repeat what they hear from those who influence them most. What tragedy is this that a child has to learn hate from one they love? Is it not children that have the capacity to love without caution? Is it not through the eyes of a child that one sees angels at the sight of ogres? They will hold the hand of a beast and not know the danger of its jaws, only the warmth of its fur.

“Kisses and Cuddles” (My sister and my niece)

So my gorgeous, baby niece:

I am so sorry, that all the knowledge I have of race relations, all the rants I have written on the subject, all the times I have cried over a valuation of the black community in our societies eyes, could not render you exempt from such an abhorrent incident. You will have many more, baby, and sadly none of us will be able to shield you from all of them. But know this, I promise to educate you on your constitutional rights, your equal worth as a human being, and remind you that your skin is only ever beautiful. I will do my best to teach you how to love diversity, and celebrate difference, because it makes the world exciting and gives you a bigger canvas to paint on. When your hair is tangled and knotted and you lament the pain and hassle of taming it, I will tell you of the many black women that have struggled with the same problems and much worse, yet still they rise. You will be a black woman in an Australian society that will likely place you on the lowest rung of the ladder, but you are born of a resilient people and your steps upward will not be easy… but they will be- I promise.

Baby, I could never love a world that refuses to learn what it is to love you; to hear the sincerity of your laugh; to know the innocence of your curiosity; to celebrate the splendour of your skin. You are exactly what God intended, and no man with organs that work as yours do, mortal as you are, will ever determine the weight of your worth. Shine, little lady. You are the star we hope will live higher than the skies, the winged beacon we pray a brighter future.

I love you and your mother and I will absolutely, never, ever stop.

Auntie Gendo

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“Would you like me to sit with you?”

A little Turkish girl that lives close by had rushed home, having refused to wait for her mother to collect her from a friend’s house, a short distance from where they live. She wailed, knowing this to inspire the approach of her most loved person. Commitment to tears turned her cheeks red and the despair in her eyes unearthed an unrelenting desperation for her mother’s arms; a showering of kisses and cuddles from the Creator’s catalyst. Her efforts bore no fruit. Normally, I ignore outside noises. Anything that cannot be annexed to an action I have performed or word I have spoken, I will likely dismiss as being outside my area of concern. This time, however, hearing the loud cries, I stepped out to make sure she was okay. Although she did not speak, the locked grill door and her attempt to force it open with her little hands revealed the reason for her distress. Her mother was out and the house was impenetrable.

‘Sitting in Silence’ Sketch by KLM

“Would you like me to sit with you?” I asked.

She nodded her head, wiping her tears with her right sleeve and sitting on a step with her backpack still strapped to her shoulders. I moved to occupy a space next to her. In a world that tells us not to love without caution, a world that endorses a fear of what is different, we were breaking all the rules. Muslim and a Jesus lover, curly, soft hair and dreadlocks, child and young adult, Turkish and black African; irrespective of our differences we found comfort in each other’s presence. So the heart of a child will conquer the weight of any villain, with no more than the innocence that drives them to see the sparkle in an ogre’s eye. We just sat… on a step… quiet.

Sometimes our differences cause us to abandon a higher standard of humanity. But when we get it right, my God, is it spectacular.

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