She struck me, standing there in her full beauty. Simply dressed, hair pulled back but loose and free, a feat only black hair can do without chemical castration. She struck me, deep, standing there on the corner; the lights of the library and ongoing traffic reflecting off her blue-black skin and eyes. It was as if all creation was finding proof of its existence in her being, in her presence, in her gaze. No more than twelve, she stood there, smelling of fear and confidence, gazing across the road. I stood beside her, to her right. Not too close for fear of arousing her anxiety, because proximity to men–no matter how queer or gender averse–is often a sure precursor to death and violence and destruction for Black Gods young and old. I stood close enough to be seen as a friend or familiar by any unknowing by-passer. I wanted her to be at ease, without causing her strife with my patriarchal desire to protect.
I wondered, for a second, what it must be like to exist in the constant moon of violence. To be colored, stained and decorated by its promise or threat or both, while also retaining a blue-black hue of power for oneself, for ones family, for ones essence. The light changed and we parted ways. I thought of her on my elliptical. Sweat dripping, brow drowning with anxiety and perspiration for the mere thought of how different life might be if I were her and she was me. A futile mental exercise because those who have tasted male privilege cannot fathom…it is much like humans opining about how the earth feels; those exercises are cute, for show, for play-play. The more correct course would be to stop polluting live sustainably and gift thanks but even those are empty gestures. I hate such comparisons as the do the ongoing work of super-humanizing or dehumanizing black women, femmes, queers and men. We do this thing, perhaps because our humanity is a common jest, where we are either Gods or Dead. Perhaps we are both. Or perhaps, we too are humans…or Gods wrapped in flesh like the rest of the wayward blood bags ravaging the earth, ravaging each other, consuming blue-black black girls in glowing the lights of libraries and upscale gyms.
I wondered if she was missing or longing, or both, or all three? In America, in DC, you must wonder when you see a free black girl whether she has been taken, because ownership—whether familial or romantic–is a fact of patriarchy and womanhood. I wondered if she had been kidnapped. I wondered if she was longing for self, or love, or freedom or knowledge. Perhaps she was just missing the library as it closed. I wondered if she was a rebel, if she had indeed practiced that sweet, black art of freedom and ventured her young twelve year old self out into the night of the plaza, communing with darkness like only the dead-living can do.
I don’t know her, but she struck me. She struck me deep. I hope she lives.
Tabias Olajuawon is the founder of BlaQueerFlow, the author of Godless Circumcisions: A Recollecting & Re-membering of Blackness, Queerness & Flows of Survivance, a JD Candidate and a regular contributor to Huffington Post. If you’d like to support their work, or their upcoming bar exam fees, please send your support via cash.me or YouCaring.