I remember the first time a white girl stole from me.
It was the first grade and I remember thriving on spelling tests being rewarded with treats from my teacher, watching Cinderella Story at the mall with my mom, and the new Ashanti CD.
My next spelling testing I noticed her eyes trickling down my list and she rushed to copy and not get noticed. Our teacher rewarded us both for perfect scores and I never believed in competition between girls, but for some reason this made my stomach churn and I chewed on words I could never say.
It wasn’t until the 4th grade during our free write, my best friend stole my idea for a story, a story I’d plan to write because something else was aching to exist in my class journal that day. I never believed in concealing my excitement so we exchanged only the sweetest of giggles and shared a place to transcend through this pure creative flow that spills through our pencils.
Our teacher went through our journals and took a liking to my best friend's story and I remember my love for my friend went sour as she won an award for creative writing and no one knew she wrote my story and I told no one.
In middle school and high school the kids made it clear that my brown skin, wavy hair, and thick hips would make me unlovable so I spent years feeling real fucked up and searching for a home in this undesirable body.
I learned to squint my eyes as I passed mirrors, never express my ideas out loud, flirt with strangers online, choked on everything I really wanted to say, and yearn for an escape out this empty lovely body stolen from me and returned only recently.
In college, I found more ways to escape from this love body. I lived with all white women my
freshman year of college.
White women who vote for Tr*mp, dressed as Indigenous women on Halloween, knew white supremacists, and wanted to dreadlock their hair.
I met white women who envied my confidence like it was just that simple for me to love myself, white women would always tell me they felt intimidated by my skills and thoughts, and I continued my silence.
I didn’t find a home in my body until I met Black and Brown femmes, too many years into my
college experience, who shared experiences unique and similar to my own and it was the first time I felt the most sacred form of solidarity, sisterhood.
It was then that I realized there is a legacy of white people stealing from Black people and people of color. Whether this is stealing our aesthetics, our beautiful hairstyles, our mother tongue, our culture, our creative content, or freedom. The queer Black and Brown femmes in my life validated my existence in these violent white institutions that I always counted on saving me.
It was pretty clear to me then and now that my survival depended on me loving myself fully and unconditionally.
I am relearning that my body was always free and how valuable it is to take up space.
I have never been so active in cultivating who I am openly and unafraid. Every time I speak, I still find that my stomach turns to knots and it’s a fight with my body to say what I mean. I am learning to speak, hear, and learn from my ancestors. I am regaining my love to create again and I think it helps to also love myself.
Sometimes I still find that I’m afraid to share the thoughts that provoke my mind but I’m learning to create, you gotta put yourself out there.
I will vanish the shame that lives in my heart when I conquer my failures and embrace my fears.