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  • Writer's pictureOlivia Matthews

Stars, Sun, and the Joy of the Black Woman

The tone in their voice asked me to shapeshift,

Like seeing the black woman disappear into a lesser version of herself

was a trick they never grew tired of.

I grew up a little black girl who could not tell the difference between the sun in the sky and the sun in her heart.

So even when the night set in, I was always ready to carry joy with me.

I took joy with me and with every harsh word,

Society asked me to shapeshift,

To wish away the little stars that came together to create my joy,

To touch the surface of the phenomenon of the burnt-out black woman in hopes of creating sparks.

People begged me to take the sun out of my heart and release it back into the sky.

The comments and doubts were so subtle that I never realized the little stars they asked me to throw back into the sky along the way.

It was one star, then it was another, and another,

Until I was left alone, outside at 3 am, praying for the stars to come back into my hand,

Until I looked at the sky and saw the sun, but felt no warmth in my chest.

It has become a detrimental norm to ask the black woman to shapeshift,

To be “less of that and more of this.”

Society would rather ask the black woman to light the sparks of her burnt-out exhaustion in hopes of finding her light than ensure that her light is never taken in the first place.

I spent so many nights searching for parts of myself,

so many nights praying that some light would come down,

But the beautiful thing about stars, about light, about black girls collecting joy

are that stars have a way of finding us again,

Stars have a way of coming back around.

Edited by: Yumna Elhdari

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Leslie Vargas
Leslie Vargas
06. Apr. 2023


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