Black, Queer, & Finding My Way Home: Post-Sex Refutations of a (NOT) Post-Racial Society

Image:    Mickalene Thomas

Image: Mickalene Thomas

I’ve loved myself before, for many microscopic minutes throughout hundreds of days. Sometimes, I look at me — the discolorations of my kneecaps, the cellulite on my buttocks, and the pudgy, overweight protuberance that is my vagina — like how dark-skinned Romeo would’ve looked at brown-skinned Juliet: starry, glazed, and with a Black people-specific tempestuousness that metaphorically dapped up male-specific acquisitiveness. It’s unceremonious. It’s debilitating. It’s all the extremities of power and powerlessness and love and lovelessness experiencing and learning and metamorphosizing all at once and it’s an escape; in that moment, that point of rediscovery and practiced unsophistication in which my fingertips feel no obligation to fuck the brains out of white curvaceousness and I can howl like a goddess of the overweight and the grasping and the undeserving, I am free. I don’t feel desire and I don’t feel wanderlust. I feel like the peppermint-flavored Carribean chocolates that my grandmother used to pop in her mouth and crack, with a Herculean forcefulness so veteran and profound that it would be disgraceful to call it apprenticeship, as if it were the hardened and oversentimental tears of her unconscionable white landlord: deliberate, fresh, and erotic. I feel self-possessed and I feel like nothing, earthly or mythological, can rip me from my high; no one can dare me to come back to Earth after I’ve hurtled like a cannonball, Rubenesqueness blazing like the intemperateness of a thousand Haitian bellydancers and my reclamations upon denouncements glowing an imperturbable gunmetal grey, as I puncture the atmosphere with a deafening smooch. With my hands, with my fingers, with my lips, with my sashaying, I have told whiteness that its god does not belong here nor does it reserve the right to enter my temple. For once, it shall feel nothing but burdensomeness and disjointed as I dance across my mounds of flesh and nappy gardens unencumbered and afraid of nothing. My ribs decided to entertain me — no one else but me — with a blackened clamorousness so unconventional and profane that I laugh in the haze of blood-red summer and fogginess of nightingale-colored winter. I wear those skirts and I straighten that tiara and I smear on that lipgloss and I bike to that girl’s house, frenzied and disagreeable and pornographic, where we dance our dance of reincarnation, desperately feeling the magnolias that accentuate our hairiness so that both of us can put slickness to a name and none of us can leave unconsummated, ashen, immortal. It is a secret that my mountainous frame and her timorousness keep, meaningless undulations dramatized by the flirtatiousness of unremarkable chardonnay and wholehearted kisses inevitable and queer, closer than the togetherness of our disquietude under the kaleidoscopic sunset. At that time, I was well-versed, advantageous, afraid of nothing.


I was softness and paradise. I was a genderqueer recharacterization of David slaying the meddlesome thoughtlessness and banality that was my personal Goliath; except, I didn’t have fashionable gladiator sandals, an unbreakable slingshot, and an omnipresent, supernatural, hulking authoritarian-minded plenipotentiary on my side. I didn’t have cherubs haranguing me from the sidelines or an undemocratic and uproarious Philistine army beleaguering my people. I had my body — the all-powerful, multitalented, and multidimensional manifestation of my unconditionality and meticulousness and anfractuousness and attachment issues — as savior, protector, and opposition. I was not an object for pleasure, receptive to the drunken valor of white cishet men or the beratement of sanctimonious white cishet women. I was not an embarrassment or the one left belly-flopping in a pool full of regrets, resentment, and untrustworthy nights. I was not something too good to be true.


My heaven is undependable and uncompromising. It is the remnants of my saliva on alighted tender-bodied valleys; merciless glamorousness personified, it ravages love-handles and stomaches with the hope of an orgasmic release. Sun-kissed skin and nipples, erect without repugnance or apprehension, are its banner, and all are welcomed under its atmospheric resistance. It is an overweight revolution, weaned off tales of oversaturated cotton-candy skins and lackadaisical make-outs with atramentous, lanky, Malboro-smelling delinquents, aesthetically-substandard and quick-tempered, atop the trunk of Cambridge-blue Ford Thunderbirds; no longer am I a fantasy with no function and no longer am I, a bothered, big-hearted Afrolatinx transcendentalist, yours. Through every exhibition of disconnectedness, through every kittenish touch, through every dimple and curve and mark and engorgement and squish, I acknowledge that my being is a galactic order that speaks a different language. It does not desire a reason or prerequisite for space, for it takes it up without the impish obsessiveness and bumptiousness of a prepubescent white boy and is intentional in its fragmentation; the expansiveness of its phenomena, the urgency of its unlawfulness, and the vociferousness of its importance all make it a physical mystery — built in homage to the deconstructivism emblematic of postcolonial identities — that puts me in a continuous state of gasps and awes. With every physical plunge into self-gratification and the cocooning of limbs, I am deliberate and revolutionary and epistemological. Artifical discrimination does not slow the quickening of my pace and the fastidiousness of my mind does not crumple to allow another’s sweet-smelling shine; I awaken my love and soul and then, in all the discourteousness of a snot-nosed, pigtailed toddler, unsheathe my amber skin to reveal what rights and wrongs and cacophonies and sorceries you, in all your Wonder-Bread voodoo, plead your telescopes to show you. I clench the blouse of America and rip it’s embroidery from my testimonial because my love is not gorgeous and troglodyte and Brobdingnagian if it is hindered by the recklessness of your red, white, and blue.

I don’t choke or shoot or shoot or jail or shoot or roast or shoot or cheat. I kiss girls and plumpness without so much as a whisper of disapproval and I eat Buffy the Vampire Slayer for breakfast because she and her hallelujahs and miracles and justice are balmy and inconsistent. I drag my tattered gown through Baton Rouge, listening to the downtrodden and begrimed apparations of the strangulated, pierced, and battered with such an eerie carefulness that I even astound myself. I besmirch the names of your saviors, battalions, pundits, philosophers, teachers, and singers with well-proportioned onomatopoeia and discomfort the bloodshot-eyed who shake hands with their pompousness on Capitol Hill. I deface your pistols and expose your master tricks and block your ancient lights and devour your incarcerated (and my inert brethren) with a benevolent lasciviousness — inconceivable and undisciplined — so that they forget their tear-stricken histories of crooked businesses and semen-soaked unforgiveness and only know of dancing with full bellies within the belly of the beast. I am my own lord and the newest mayor of my sweet Black town; my people, entering with bathrobes stitched from the placenta of their Travyons and their Khalils, mean-mugging their significant others, look to me with the self-possessed directionality of a cardinal home for the spring. Tonight, they demand, Aquaphor-moisturized lips parted in an adamantine “O”, they demand to be free of false gods and indistinguishable police and asterisks and hashtags that obscure their children’s names. Tonight, they sophomorically beckon the challenge of moon’s marble, scouring its craters for a reunion, a dance, a star; they want me to give them a body without an exit wound and damn the preciousness associated with it. Tonight, they want me to get my boy and get my girl and interrupt their inauguration into ghosthood. Tonight — like every other night that existed before or within the sprightliness of Black hereafter — they want me to dream with purpose, guide their shovels, and plant charcoal-colored chrysanthemums in the levitated ruin.

They want me to open the gates.


So, come! Find your watering cans! Dance on the dirtied ground of their fallaciousness! Kiss your brothers and sisters and sons and daughters! Laugh heartily and feast well! In my heaven, we bury nothing and we make what is not equivocation or philanthropy but something that is deserved. We look at debauchery, the newsletters that, superficially and circuitously, lionize a night of celebration and presence that their penmanship was not entitled to witness, with a disgruntled and lubricious eye, laughing at interpretations that might as well be written in blood and ejaculate. We tango and we squeal and we create in a world where the bullet, conceptual or shrill, does not exist. Cities, teeming with the suddenness of life, grow in the wake of our missteps; they, defeatedly, trudge west of here instead of wetting themselves at the sight of our rapturousness and everyone, integrated and affectionate, survives instead of succumbing to the murmuring nothingness of death.


I have loved myself and this thought many times before. It is an alternate name, written in the impermanence of water and the whooshing invective of orange juice. In hushed tones, it laps at my feet and tickles the girl who lays next to me now; I wonder if, even after all of these Fergusons and Charlottesvilles, how much more iniquity my body can compartmentalize and bandage. How much more I can look at, exasperated and inebriated from Tamir’s and Abdirahman’s and Philando’s and Alton’s heartbrokenness, the reprehensible — clad in phosphorescent badges and screeching combat boots — with an owl-eyed gaze of fascination that says: “Welcome home!”. Yet, even while I’m being nestled by midnight’s speculation, I do not want to know. I want to be obstinate and unacceptable and unconsecrated. I want to be a nondenominational church of kind-hearted cadavers and brotherless bones and twice-unsuccessful deportations. I want to be ignominious and phantasmagorical and prepossessing and for the children — the bedraggled and fickle-minded amber-skinned children — to come undone underneath the infrastructure that is my arms and eulogize, with ancient conviction, of their disinclination, accomplishments, and goodness because we do not put an “X” over the somethingness of anything and everything.



In my heaven — this life, this new story and history of shamelessness and powerfulness — I am giving everything that a pistol has taken away from us. I am finding all of the Black girls who have been tossed overboard into traitorous bleached waters and snuggling them with my fatness. I am finding all of the Black boys that were hanged because Emmett whistled and taking them, lips parted and maddened eyes watching morning rise, to a jury that has withstood the test of partisanship and time. I am finding all of my kin — in irresoluteness and health — and taking them to a place that has survived my brother’s and my brother’s lover’s time; there, in the safety of buck-teeth and ebony, we will make our own pronouncement. There, we will be erotic, worthy, and determined. We will be the archnemesis of mourning veils and lies and we will be burning — burning bright and unhesitating like petroleum, bush, and the disputatiousness of white America — until we become one, obsequiously and mellifluously, with starlight.


We are eternal & this secret, a quivering orb hidden in the floorboards of my & hers & his shared house of knowledge and serendipity, a tool beholden to no gambler or father’s time that is lightyears past the master's house, a mantra that bids you thunder and war and entombment and gore, is, if nothing but this, is ours, and only, unrestrictedly, radically ours.

Zoe Rivera Comment