for teens, by teens

Canvas Teen Literary Journal is published quarterly in print, ebook, web, video, and audio formats.

And So They Named It 'The Angry Black Woman'

Delani Hughes

I spent five years blaming my body
accusing her of betraying me
when I should have blamed the men around me for thinking they had a right to swells
and curves
I had not given them permission to touch
and when you tell them no
they draw their eyes up to your face
and search.
I am not sure if they are searching for answers
or the punch line to their latest joke—I don't ask
they would just lie anyway.
I am from a place that I cannot name and I wish I could say with
straight lips and proud eyes
that I am of my mother’s womb
and that I remember the smells and the sounds like it was yesterday
but I am almost
if not completely sure that I have been here before
with blistered hands
and feet
and sweat
dripping down my nose
and children
tied to my back
it feels like that, some days
like I have the consciousness of this entire fucking planet
tied to my back
so tightly that the cloth I have used—
that I have sewn together myself
to hold these children up
to shield them from the sun that has burned me one too many times
cuts into my skin
and stains the brown burlap
with red truths
too tangy for my tongue to handle.
Some days I wake up
and I am so full
and ready
for whatever the world births me but on other days
I am tired.
On other days the weight is too heavy and my bones are too weak and my eyes are too red and my skin is too black

for them.

To them
my lightness
and the force with which I love everything around me
does not match what their mothers
and grandmothers
and great grandmothers
and teachers
and history books
and televisions
have taught them—
I am supposed to be a dark mass that is empty and meant for heavy loads
they do not know what to make of my spirit
and so they named it “angry”
she was too beautiful and mysterious for them not to abuse and take for granted
and mispronounce.
And look at her
just look
at what you have done to a beautiful
black child—
you have made her think that
mispronouncing her name
and breaking her spirit
is normal
you have convinced her that God didn’t make her in all his glory
and pronounce her special
and powerful
and full of everything
the world needs.
You have sold her
the same story that was sold to you
that she is just here
to do her time
it sounds a little like slavery doesn’t it?
To live a life that is not yours
not realizing how much power you have
to reclaim your own self
and help the history books
spell it correctly:
She Was Conscious.
And so they named her angry.

Delani Hughes is a seventeen-year-old senior who enjoys writing to relieve stress

© Canvas Literary Journal 2016
Writers & Books
Rochester, NY