After Orlando, 1,439 Years Of Life Still Echo

After Orlando, 1,439 Years Of Life Still Echo

We can never let them go silent.

When I was seventeen I held my girlfriends hand the way my grandmother holds her rosary beads- so close. Moments later, three men walked by screaming “faggots" so loud you could hear my shame echo off the hot summer tar. She punched six holes in the wall that night.

I stayed soft, numb. Quick retraction like a child who puts his hand on a stove or gets his mouth washed with soap. My mouth has tasted bitter ever since.

I think heaven is coming down in Orlando. It falls like sweet southern rain and sits on my skin. Candles shed light on dark crime scenes. Everything is quiet. Forty-nine people have died. Some of them look just like me. Each of them love just like me.

After my back became a cutting board for homophobia, my girlfriend’s hand turned sharper. My breath laid still in my chest- a graveyard of what I couldn't say. I closed my lips like a bible.

Held her hand tighter

Walked a bit closer

Watched a bit harder

Loved a bit softer-

so as not to be too heavy for the world’s broken knees.

When shots rained down on Sunday in Orlando, I felt my her hand again- this time around my neck, squeezing the words out.

My mouth became a dulled kitchen knife, afraid of chewing words that would condemn me. Afraid of holding hands that would condemn me. Not knowing that just living could condemn me.

Fear lives in the soles of my shoes. I walk off of high places, wishing to feel the crush of my bones. Wanting to see if I could still hold my heavy shame on top of a broken body- if the world could hold it’s heavy shame on top of a broken body.

I used to think words were a loaded gun until i realized I might actually face one.

The safety on the trigger has replaced actual safety. Warm bed and unpacked suitcase, safety. Don’t have to worry about being shot, safety. I worry my sexuality is sewn into my skin.

If you add the ages of each innocent person killed at the Pulse Night Club, you get 1,439 years. 1,439 years shot down with discrimination and fear-cased bullets.

1,439 years of words, of words, of words.

The tongue is the strongest muscle in the body. Built to break brick like bombs cannot. Cut skin like guns cannot. Words can’t be extinguished when the flame goes out- the oven in my throat still burns.

There are 1,439 years living under my tongue. My voice shakes, not from fear, but from gravity. The gravity of bullet wounds caused by words that couldn't heal quickly enough. I couldn't heal quickly enough.

My girlfriend told me to keep walking and not look fear in the eye. I think I have to look at it to know it was really there.

1,439 years of life were really there. They are still speaking to me.

They will never be silenced.

They live in the mouths of everyone who has ever kept quiet, ever made themselves soft, ever feared that their love was too heavy.

We all know how to hide behind who we are not. We hide each time we choose to be silent in the face of something so loud. Hate is something so loud.

We all know how to die and come back to life, we will always come back to life.

One day we will swell and not break. Bend and not buckle. One day the world will hold us up without making us feel small. One day we will sing songs with hope as the chorus.

1,439 years of life still echo the walls of my mouth, begging me to speak. When I scream they enter the world again. I will never stop screaming. We will never stop screaming.

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Popular Right Now

5 Times Big Brands Showed How Racist They Can Be

That's right, these brand TOTALLY went there!

So, here we are. 2018—you would think that in this day and age our society would consist of total equality across all races, genders, sexuality, and so on; however, that is most definitely not the case. As a millennial, it’s almost impossible to not come across absurd stories making headlines.

Wait, let me rephrase that—as a young African American millennial it’s almost impossible to not come across stories making national news, posted on Social Media sites, and things of the like targeted solely at the Black Community. Given our nation’s history and how far one would think we’ve come, it’s unfortunate to say but racism is still very much apparent in the Black Community.

And what’s really disappointing to me is that it’s almost frowned upon whenever someone tries to use their voice to speak on wrong from right, be an advocate for injustices that still exist, or even pushing that we get the same respect as others.

But no, instead we live in a day and age where we’re mocked intentionally and indirectly, by some well-known and trusted popular companies in fact, because of who we are. These companies may not see the harm their causing by putting out something that poses as “racially offensive” but it definitely serves as a wake-up call to those who are in denial or oblivious to such matters. And for those of us that are always aware, well it’s just a reminder that we obviously are fully accepted as a race. When will we ever be?

I will not be silenced. I will speak out on any matter I feel strongly about. Wrong is wrong and right is right, and we as people should always be able to decipher between the two, however that’s not always the case. Well, at least it wasn’t for the following companies and the “racially insensitive” ads they put out.

1. Intel

Back in 2007 the computer company presented the world with an ad with intentions stated to “convey the performance capabilities of their processors through the visual metaphor of a sprinter” ; although the intentions seemed to be in the right place, in regards to how fast the performance of the current processor was, it turned out to be a flop and had people raising their eyebrows.

Here’s a quick analysis of the ad: a white man standing over a group of black men as they’re crouched in a sprinter-like stance at his feet. Yeah, I hate to be one to pull the “race card” here but the concept from the picture definitely sends out the wrong message. It is almost as if the white man is showing some type of dominance over the black men due to his body language—almost as if he posing as this “master-like character” while the black men are bowing, “servant-like”, at his feet. #IntelFail

2. Sony

The popular gaming company, Sony, released a Billboard prior to its launch of the ceramic white PSP; however, the message the billboard gave off had many shaking their heads in disbelief that the company could do something so absurd. The image pictured on the Billboard showcase two models: a white one and a black one.

To many people's disappointment the black model is made barely visible and is even being forcefully grabbed at the mouth by the white model who is staring viciously at the black model—as I look at this picture myself I get this kind of “white vs. black” vibe, and at that, the white model overpowering the black model which screams all kinds of volumes given the history of slavery. Sony definitely could’ve taken another route while promoting its new portable gaming device.

3. Nivea

“White is Purity”. Um, excuse me? The skincare brand quickly received excessive backlash after a deodorant ad gone awry. The advertisement, of course, showcased a white woman and it read “Keep it clean, keep it bright. Don’t let anything ruin it.” Of course, it’s supposed to be referring to the deodorant but as a society looking at what’s beneath the surface, it’s easy to pinpoint the insensitivity behind it.

This quote wasn’t something well-though i.e. the massive uproar it caused in terms of “race.” Was the company trying to implement the idea that a more "white" society is more preferred and idealistic?

4. Dove

Back in October of last year, Dove launched a 3 second GIF featuring a Black woman removing her shirt only to reveal a White woman underneath—the intention for the ad has been stated that it was supposed to “celebrate diversity” but instead the company missed that mark entirely. First off, the GIF transcends the idea that black women/people are “dirty” and on the opposing end, white people are cleaner.

Something that was probably set out to be innocent actually resulted in something totally cruel and hurtful as many took to social media to express their utter disgust at this ad. It's quite discerning seeing a company that's supposed to be an advocate for beauty take such a low blow at one particular like this, but is it something to be surprised at? What do you think?


I've saved the absolute best for last, considering this is one of the most recent racially offensive matters that has taken the internet by storm and all in just a matter of a few days; as most of you should already know, and for those of you still living under a rock and completely out of the loop with what's going on in the world today, the major clothing brand has been under fire after a photo featuring a young African American boy wearing a hoodie entitled "Coolest Monkey in the Jungle" surfaced and broke the internet.

Let me say this, being an African American you should know your roots and if you do, you'd understand 100% why this photo has angered many, not just within the black community, but across all.

One word that was used in years past, and probably still today by some, that was used to mock black people for their physical traits being advertised on something worn by young a child who doesn't know any better is the ultimate slap in the face---just to note how serious this matter is, celebrities like The Weekend and G-Eazy who had partnerships with the brand took to social media to announce their distaste at the tactless photo and ultimately the end of any collaboration with the company. This was definitely not a smart move to make H&M, please do better.

Given the mistakes these companies have made, I would hope that there wouldn't be any more of this foolishness to come. Why can't we all just live in perfect harmony? Nope, unfortunately, that's just not the world we live in.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar

Independent Woman - Who Is She?

When I think of an independent woman, I think of a free woman.

This woman belongs to herself and no one else. She is strong and confident. When she walks by people stare at her; not because of her beauty or fashion, but because of her presence. She lets no one dictate her. She works for what she wants. She does whatever she pleases. This woman is wild and graceful.

She moves to the beat of her own drum. She is what Maya Angelo called Phenomenal Woman. She’s every woman who’s thought for herself. Any woman who has ever fought for her life. She’s the woman I aspire to be…

I see myself and I don’t like who she is. I long to become this independent woman. But I can't seem to find her within myself. I think a big problem is that I forgot who I wanted to be as I grew up. I’ve settled for a life that is consistent and ordinary.

I’ve always admired a woman who knew what she wanted out of life. For me, there’s an aura that surrounds these women. It always takes my breath away when I get to see it. This year I’ve made it my goal to figure this out. I think most women are like myself. Lost to the daily grind, lost to their inner soul. And with that, they forget themselves.

They forget what they want in life, what they wanted when they were just kids. I have forgotten, so how do I get back to that little girl who wanted to be Catwoman when she grew up? And I don’t mean Catwoman, the anti-hero, but the woman behind it all. Who stood for ultimate feminine power. She is wise, smart, daring and classy. There are so many more things I could say about her - I could go on all day.

This year I turn 30; the goal is to become this independent woman or at least get close to it. It’s impossible to say I’ll be this woman by the end of the year, which is when my birthday is. But what I can do is take steps to becoming her. Which means working to become a person I like and respect. Becoming my true self. Which also means doing things I’m afraid of, working hard, and trying my best at everything. I made a list of some of the things I’ve always wanted to do but never had the courage to do.


1. Take a ballroom dance class

2. Try out for a play or T.V. role

3. Move to another state or country

4. Learn French

5. Finish writing my book

6. Get my own apartment

7. Learn to skateboard

These are just some of the dreams I had as a child, and some are from when I started to get older. I think if I could capture the kid version of myself and remember who she was, and what she wanted out of life, I would be a lot happier.

I think that goes for everyone, not only women but everyone who has lost themselves. We need to work on ourselves, to become happier, and be the person we want to be.

So, I decided to set myself on fire and be reborn from the ashes. I think that’s the only way to be true to myself - to start over. I don’t know if this will work or not, but I have to try.

Cover Image Credit: Dark Woman

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