Hey! I’m Diani, I’m 19, I’m from Jersey City, NJ and I’m currently studying biological engineering and mathematics at MIT. Growing up as a Black woman there have been a lot of times in my life I was made to feel small. Society teaches young Black girls especially that they’re not deserving of their achievements, that to be considered beautiful they must lose weight and straighten their hair, that they must present themselves in a way that is palatable. Recently I have been hesitant in speaking out because I’ve feared not being listened to or taken seriously, so, with this in mind, I wrote this piece as a reminder to myself and others that your voice, your being for everything it encompasses has value.
Ode to a Child II
They’ll feed you milk and taint it with blood.
Shove honey down your throat and call it liquid summer.
But Maryland summers are shit. By 6am there is a white sheet atop the homes in your father’s neighborhood: each one nearly identical. There are rows upon rows of brown stone and white fences and grass so green it demands the affections of every lightning bug, every wasp lingering there out. Morning does not come gracefully, sleepily. In one instant night brought to rest, the sky tainted by her blood (deep and blue, soon washed away). The birds, the engines, the bees applaud.
The milk burns. It comes to a boil and coats your palette: a dripping biofilm. And your face burns, your chest burns, your palms burn. Your heart like the trip of your step running from the flight of effulgent summer: pale and sweet.
They’ll feed you milk and taint it with blood. Naked you, pull your hair (your curls familiar no more, those bonds now broken, denatured), diets like knives to your skin (they’ll rip it off and wear it as their own). They’ll leave you born again in Geneva:
Your being but an amalgamation of children’s cartoons and books and television; it is girls cooing at limp coils; it is hands on your ass; it is rejection letters; it is acceptance letters (but a leech of affirmative action); it is hookups; it is mixed, green-eyed babes; it’s ghetto and ghettos; it’s your vocal cords sauntered by your own brothers, your own sisters, your own fathers and mothers who’ll claim to fill you up only to empty you out.
And when they do
spit milk and blood back at their face.
By Diani Jones