“I am more successful than I’ve ever imagined. Yet, I am terrified of sleeping because my body no longer knows how to dream. I know that people die in their dreams. I am not afraid of death. I am afraid of being killed while dreaming. Driving while Black. Jogging while Black. Dreaming while Black. Fighting while Black. Loving while Black. I wonder if movement, mobility, love are the features of Black life the worst of white Americans most despise.”
“You wondered out loud what writing “multiculturally” actually meant and what kind of black man would write the word “bro” in an email.”
At Medium, Hunger: A Memoir of My Body author Roxane Gay created this excellent pop-up magazine, to be delivered in installments over four Tuesdays in April — “a month-long magazine exploring our ever-changing relationship with our bodies,” she writes. “I knew exactly what I wanted to do — to create a space for writers I respect and admire to contribute to the ongoing conversation about unruly bodies and what it means to be human.” She tapped 24 writers to contribute. This first edition features an introduction by Gay, and essays by Randa Jarrar, Kiese Laymon, Matthew Salesses, Keah Brown, S. Bear Bergman, and Mary Anne Mohanraj. To come in the next three editions: Carmen Maria Machado, chelsea g. summers, Kaveh Akbar, Terese Mailhot, Casey Hannan, Samantha Irby, Tracy Lynne Oliver, Kelly Davio, Brian Oliu, Mike Copperman, Danielle Evans, Jennine Capó Crucet, Megan Carpentier, Kima Jones, the writer known as Your Fat Friend, Gabrielle Bellot, Mensah Demary, and larissa pham.
In a poignant personal essay, Kiese Laymon examines black intergenerational wealth and class privilege.
“I am a black Mississippian. I am a black American. I pledge to never be passive, patriotic, or grateful in the face of American abuse. I pledge to always thoughtfully bite the self-righteous American hand that thinks it’s feeding us. I pledge to perpetually reckon with the possibility that there will never be any liberty, peace, and justice for all unless we accept that America, like Mississippi, is not clean. Nor is it great. Nor is it innocent.”
A college professor on race, prejudice and making his way in the world.
A memoir of “growing up black, on parole, in Mississippi”:
“I enroll at Jackson State University in the Spring semester, where my mother teaches Political Science. Even though, I’m not really living at home, everyday Mama and I fight over my job at Cutco and her staying with her boyfriend and her not letting me use the car to get to my second job at an HIV hospice since my license is suspended. Really, we’re fighting because she raised me to never ever forget I was on parole, which means no black hoodies in wrong neighborhoods, no jogging at night, hands in plain sight at all times in public, no intimate relationships with white women, never driving over the speed limit or doing those rolling stops at stop signs, always speaking the king’s English in the presence of white folks, never being outperformed in school or in public by white students and most importantly, always remembering that no matter what, white folks will do anything to get you.
“Mama’s antidote to being born a black boy on parole in Central Mississippi is not for us to seek freedom; it’s to insist on excellence at all times. Mama takes it personal when she realizes that I realize she is wrong. There ain’t no antidote to life, I tell her. How free can you be if you really accept that white folks are the traffic cops of your life? Mama tells me that she is not talking about freedom. She says that she is talking about survival.”