Dear Brown Girl,  Keepin' It Real


Hello APC, my name is Laila Stevens and I am an 18-year-old interdisciplinary artist from Queens, New York. I am currently a freshman at the Fashion Institute of Technology studying Photography & Related Media. I hold strong pride in identifying as a Queer Black Womxn Artist because it fully encompasses the parts that make me whole, inclusive and personal. If anyone were to ask me who I am, I would tell them just that. It is my belief that POC LGBTQ+ identifying folks have incredibly valuable perspectives, holding incredible strength in their voices and stories. 

The more I discovered each side of who I was both interchangeably and in collaboration, the stronger my intention was for choosing the subjects of my art, whether it be photography, graphic design, poetry, etc. I realized the magnitude of representation through different art mediums, where the audience receives a perspective outside the norm. 

This piece entitled “the ill-fated” describes the journey of my self-perception. Although I hold strong pride in my identity, there have been moments of doubt along the way where I’ve internalized the demeaning messages around me. I intentionally decided to write in the “oppressive perspective” to get an overarching idea of how the world as a whole affects me and others with similar identities.

the ill-fated

i am the ill-fated

i am exonerated in rainbow warmth

i am brown- skinned kept in the darkness 

i have no house 

i pass through places 

i am indifferent wind

too different

i am discomfort to others

when i feel comfortable

i am a wet tear

i am ashamed in a june sea

i am supposed to be proud in a february crowd

i am burning to be let in

the eyes peering at infernal passion

i am the black cloud in a white sky

floating an enslaved distance

i am damned

i did not live

i cannot live up to liberation   

i am a stripe

a narrowing band differing in color

surfaced on a uniform America

flying towards the sun who hugs with warm brown arms

outshining the nourishing palms who institutionalized me

i run

in rebellion like sojourner 

truth is the world is too big and the roots run too deep

they captured my mind at age 7 

location: white picket fence

and i look back at the notes of love people

gave to me

welcome signs and smiles

2 summers ago

i remember when i’d count the seconds in a day from a sticker on a mirror 

and wonder when i’d finally say

i am proud of my difference

Follow me on Instagram @lailaannmarie!

Hello! My name is Tyler Newman and I'm a magical creature.

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