when the dust settles

a lament for sistas who know the traces of whiteness

this week, we watched as a dust cloud of whiteness ascended upon the capitol building. and many of us experienced a familiar psychic trauma. one that comes from the suffocating existence of white supremacy. Sistas near and far understood in our bodies the kind of joy-stealing, death-dealing reminder of how our collective victories are almost always met with a shadow of whitestained virulence and despair.


less than 24 hours after the hard work, ingenuity, and badassery of Black women like Stacey Abrams, Nse Ufot, Melanie Campbell, Tameika Atkins, Helen Butler, LaTosha Brown, Deborah Scott and countless other womxn and femmes to win two Georgia runoff elections (flipping the Senate blue), thousands of [mainly] white people arrived at the white house in an attempt to take back the election that was “stolen” from them. and a great dust cloud of white rage, entitlement, privilege, and violence ensued resulting in four deaths, multiple injuries, property damage, and police playing nice with rioters as they politely let the insurgence into the halls of congress. Which was all incited by the seditious, outgoing commander in chief.

the white siege lasted hours. yet our Black sorrow has lasted centuries.

sorrow not for ourselves. Rather for the unfortunate reality that whiteness is free to roam and conquer and terrorize while we must constantly prepare ourselves for the destruction it leaves in its wake. that we must tell our young children the truth about themselves and the ugliness that awaits them when whiteness doesn’t get its way. that we must always be ready for it to bust in on us however indecently while we stand there naked in our homes and beg it to look away. that we must understand the art of contortion, as sell-outish it often feels, if we want to remain safe in our Black, gendered bodies. that we can work, and be worked, like mules plowing fertile ground - only to have our crops burned in their fury.


to all my sistas, who know far too well that it is not sickness nor suicide that’s caused us such harm. but that it has been whiteness that kills us softly while choking the life out of us in plain sight. leaving traces that only we can detect. i see you. i feel you. i am exhausted with you.


nevertheless, as we all know without saying, we do not pity ourselves or our plight. because we’ve been carving out living spaces since before whiteness created itself over and against our Black brilliance. therefore, we will not now, nor have we ever cowered in the face of such violent disposition.


however, because we know whiteness enjoys unfettered access to that which does not belong to it, i beseech all of us to consider doing the following in the coming days:

  • reserve explicit parts of ourselves (our labor, our words, our energy) to remain unseen nor untouched by the white gaze → meaning: make your essence off-limits to whiteness. do not quiet your voice, change your hair, alter your tone, or offer to lift a finger in service of upholding whiteness’s status quo. we do not owe that bastard a damn thing - especially not any part of the fullness of our selves.

  • stop attending/patronizing churches where whiteness is deeply entrenched in the theology, sermons, and teaching → meaning: ask yourself if what you are hearing/learning honors your Black womanhood and makes room for you to be fully human, called, divine, and whole - instead of sexualized, demonized, minimized, or compartmentalized. and, be warned, just because you attend a Black church, don’t mean whiteness isn’t an idol god there (i promise to write more on this soon).

  • privilege your body and love on your flesh → meaning: let yourself feel, and invite, all manner of touch that makes you feel good. be it comforting, relaxing, massaging, playful, sensual, or otherwise. the perpetual forecast of the capacity of whiteness/white rage reminds us daily to tighten up and be on guard, causing it to be more difficult to make sanctuary in our own bodies. being touched, loving our flesh, or having our flesh loved on, remedies us of that.

  • protect your mind and speak life over yourself → meaning: make it a ritual to affirm yourself everyday (and cast down the principalities of whiteness that might lurk at your door). read God’s promises for your life and translate them into words that make sense to you in the form of “i am” statements. examples: i am more than enough (psalm 139.14). i am fully and completely and utterly loved by God (romans 8.35-39). i am armed with truth and powerful and with God i can stand against every demon (including whiteness/white supremacy) that comes against me (ephesians 6.10-18).


my hope for all of us is that even these smallest acts of resistance will sustain us as we know that another #DaySoWhite - where danger abounds and privilege abides - will inevitably come. and, perhaps, when the pandemic is over and we can take to the streets more safely, we will have preserved our health more than enough to deftly punch it right in its face as it so rightfully deserves.


until then, be safe. be well. and always, beware of whiteness.


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email me: hello[at]shantellhhill.com | © 2020 by SHHill.