by Olubukola Ogundipe
i can never stand my ground. i want to be able to stand my own ground. marissa alexander stood her ground against an abusive husband, today she is free. i couldn’t stand my own ground virtually.
no one has really paid that much attention to me. when i started to receive attention for whatever reason, it felt good. it distracts, it doesn't make you search for a deeper connection. i didn’t stand my ground against the trolls following me on blogs called “pragnetyet,” of “friends” subtly giving backhanded compliments, of registering my old username and writing “free pussy pics,” ”free sex pics”… i buckled under the pressure. i couldn’t remain soft, firm, and open. i wanted to be soft, firm and open. i am soft, firm, and open but it is a process.
i got sucked into the capitalist machine. what am i passionate about? whose rules and standards am i following? why did you give up on yourself? why did you compromise your safe space? i’m used to having my safe spaces being violated– from my bedroom, to my body, to my mind.
arnesha bowers was in her home when she was raped, her body mutilated and set on fire. when cece mcdonald was walking with friends and attacked by a gang of white men who hurled transphobic slurs at her, she defended herself and was wrongfully put into a men’s jail.
the charleston massacre, where a terrorist opened fired. 9 people died, depayne middletown doctor, cynthia hurd, susie jackson, ethel lance, rev. clementa pickney, tywanza sanders, rev. dr. daniel simmons sr, sharonda coleman-singleton, and myra thompson. six of them were women.
i’m always so fearful. i have existed in fear. scared of being, scared of existing, scared of being human, scared of talking, scared of touching, i’ve been scared of life. running around like a dog with my tail between my legs. always looking for some escape route.
“your name sounds like one for dogs…”
and have i been laying down like a dog? they do say white people care more about dogs than black bodies bleeding out, left for hours in the street like mike brown. or eric garner choked to death on the sidewalk, recorded and shared on social media. it's overwhelming.
here i am breathing but laying down, as if i threw in the towel already. as if i were ready to die. some days i can’t get out of bed. i’m crushed by the world, of daring to hope for more. asking for more, when i know i should just take it. do i squander my opportunities? or am i scared of entering true lightness after being told that i’m the wrong kind of light, when i am instead moonlight and beloved of the sun.
when i cut my wrists and wore hoodies during a particularly hot summer what i wanted was control. i was tired of being pushed around. i was tired of not feeling good enough, not feeling like a “girl” enough, wishing for my breasts to disappear. i wanted the sleek androgyny of a body perceived as whiter, as “lighter,” when really i am something, deeper, unfathomably dark like the sky. i relish in it, it nourishes me.
am i trash? well i have been the worst parts of people they do not want to confront. the molested, the groped, the attacked, hair pulled on in public.
“is this the way people pull your on your hair during sex?”
“oh, my lipstick would be lighter, i don’t know if what you use could work on my complexion”
“you’re so smart i can’t stand it”
“you always have the best ideas”
but what are ideas without confidence? i’m always hiding from something. i say i want to shine but the negative voices in my head are both outside and inside.
the ghost of british colonial history mutated with the colourblindness of midwestern america, a legacy of multiculturalism paid for in blood, empire and hegemony. it is paid for in genocide and enslavement, lynching and rape. in consumption, and here i grew up. a stuffy private school education where we all were the other, indoctrinated, colonized. speak properly, walk properly, don’t smoke, don’t do “drugs,” don’t have sex, don’t be messy. don’t be human. and especially don’t be black. don’t be a girl. don’t be one of those “weird” ones.
i’ve been afraid to be, i try to talk – which thoughts are my own? of being everything for someone else, for standing in opposition. i’m making a fool out of myself. i’m stuck in a bubble. i pop the bubble. this shell is breaking, this shell is beaten, battered and bruised. but it’s breaking open. it’s a raw wound, a human wound, but it is one that is breathing life. an undeniable right.
Olubukola Yetunde Ogundipe was born in Lagos, Nigeria. They currently in the Midwest and are focused on reconnecting with their heritage, learning how to say "no," self-expression, healing, reading up on global black history, and freedom. They can be found on wordpress: bukiooo.