With Dreams Like These, Black Is Forced To Crack

I’d always loved and believed the old adage “black don’t crack.” It didn’t, at least not in my bloodline. My grandmother was a radical organizer and feared no (wo)man black, white or in between. She worked 14 hour shifts at a 3M factory, raised numerous (grand) children, pressed our clothes & hair and had breakfast, lunch and dinner made before we knew it–yes, full soulfood spreads. Willa Mae never cracked–not with age, not with trauma, not with violence, not with perverty. She always remained solid and smooth, much the clay caressing the borders of the Mighty Mississippi–come hell or high water.

But I did. I cracked. The river didn’t flow above me, it split me clean open with the force of a cleaver a chicken’s neck. I gushed–wetted with pieces of myself.

It wasn’t supposed to be like that. I had simply gone out with two of my fraternity brothers, Bryan & Ahmed. We had smoked some shisha and decided it was time to have a few drinks at the bar. It was a lovely night. I was with my two closest brothers, much like family to me, and all smiles and laughs. I remember us struggling to play our song–Vato by Snoop–on the inept blackberries we had all purchased so we could BBM each other anytime, anyplace. Arms locked around each others shoulders and wastes we stumbled our way home–but I already felt at home. This type of love, brotherly love, was what sustained me through years of emotional and physical violences–it had carried me to a top university and would later land me in the presence of the President.

It was 2am. I was hungry. Mo–our on-campus burger-on-demand food services was too far away for me to wait. I got a call from this guy I used to hookup with. I knew it was a bad idea. I told him I didn’t want sex. I was just really hungry. He said that was chill, he was seeing someone, but I should come by and he’d make me Ramen. Against the better judgement of my boys, I went. He was sober–he didn’t drink and he liked to remind of that. He had an innocent but egotistical air about him–quite smart, obviously attractive and exceptionally manipulative. He let me in and led me to his room. I sat on his roommates bed and announced I would rest my eyes for a bit. He nodded and noted he would be preparing the food–with hot-sauce and shrimp ramen, just how I liked it–and would wake me when it was done.

That’s all I remembered. But I woke up in his arms confused. My neck hurt. There were bruises across my ribs, my nipples were red with bite marks, as were my thighs. My ass was burning and bloody. My braids were undone. I was confused and in pain, so i put on my jeans–no time to find my underwear–grabbed my shoes and ran up the hill to my room and cried. When my best friend found me, and asked wtf happened.

I cried more. The first time since 7th grade when my grandmother had died and I felt her cracked skin in the casket. I cried more. Because I never wanted him. I was in love and dating another. When I awoke, he had reappeared in my room, claiming he would commit suicide if I didn’t see him. He appeared at lunch with my friends, dinner too. He sat outside my dorm at night–pronouncing his love and announcing how he had took me from my lover. I was trapped. I couldn’t call the police–who would believe me–and how could I believe they wouldn’t just arrest me? A black guy like me–being fucked by some little white boy. Not only had I lost my autonomy–but I was now caught in someone else’s dream–imprisoned in a land only I knew about.

I cracked.

Especially when I got the results.

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