An Open Love Letter to Folks of Color*
by Mia McKenzie
Dear Fellow Folks of Color,
I am writing to tell you that I’m in love with you. I would have said it to your faces, but I don’t have that kind of travel money.
What I love about you, POC, is…well, there’s a lot.
First of all, I love that, despite what you may have heard, your ancestors pretty much built or invented everything that was ever built or invented in the world. They built the pyramids. They built the United States (this includes buildings, roads, bridges, and the entire economic system that came from the cotton of the South and which made this country a world power). They invented chess, jewelry, sculpture, dance. Air conditioning, the fire extinguisher. Guitars, horseshoes, rock and roll, mailboxes, motors, refrigerators, traffic lights. They invented chopsticks, spoons, and forks. To eat the food whose domestication they originated: rice, chocolate, potatoes, carrots, coffee, wheat, ice cream. I could go on. The first game of soccer was played by them. The first songs sung with the human voice were sung by them. By you. I mean, how could I not love you? (Also, I’m pretty sure you invented love.)
But that’s really not even the half of it. POC, I love you because you are fierce. Because you are strong. Because you are hella resilient. Because despite living in a country that finds some new way every single day to tell you that you are less, you somehow continue to be more and more and more. Despite racism and xenophobia and poverty and white women’s tears and Mitt Romney, you still manage, somehow, to hold it together. Even though every Arab movie terrorist is played by an Arab dude but the hero “Prince of Persia” is played by Jake Gyllenhaal; even though some people think “reverse racism” is a real thing; even though API folks are like .003% of the characters on US TV shows right now and most of them are on Glee, you haven’t just given up and started speaking gibberish and throwing your feces. Which, under the circumstances, would be really understandable. No, instead you find more and more ways to survive, and not only to survive, but to thrive. Despite your children being gunned down by cops like every single day, despite your mothers being sent to prison for “stealing” public education, despite your sisters dying in the heat of the desert while “sneaking” into a land that belongs to your own ancestors, not to mention being deported from that same land in record numbers, despite the CONSTANT beatings inflicted on your souls, you somehow still have souls. That’s fucking amazing. I mean, I’m not surprised. Your ancestors couldn’t have survived slavery and genocide without some damn serious sturdy genes. But still. It’s impressive.
I love you for all of these things.
I love you, too, for the way, despite all of this, you continue to love each other. I love you for knowing what community really is. I love you for understanding what family means. I love you for the way you lean into each other when you laugh, the way you rock when you hug, the way you cook and fight and die for each other. The way you forgive. The way you remember.
I love your thick lips and your thick/curly/kinky/bone-straight hair. I love your slanted eyes, and your round and not-round asses, and your high cheekbones and your big/tiny feet. I love your brown eyes. I LOVE your brown skin.
I love the way you do math (which you also invented), the way you dance, the way you talk. I love your fire. I love your anger.
Folks of Color, I am so fucking in love with you. So in love with us.
Call me, k? ;)
*The Black Girl Dangerous Writing Workshop for queer, trans*, and gender-non-conforming writers of color is OPEN. Join us in Oakland or online!
Mia McKenzie is a writer and a smart, scrappy Philadelphian with a deep love of vegan pomegranate ice cream and fake fur collars. She is a black feminist and a freaking queer, facts that are often reflected in her writings, which have won her some awards and grants, such as the Astraea Foundation’s Writers Fund Award and the Leeway Foundation’s Transformation Award. She just finished a novel and has a short story forthcoming in The Kenyon Review. Her work has been published at Jezebel.com, and recommended by The Root, Colorlines, Feministing, Angry Asian Man, and Crunk Feminist Collective. She is a nerd, and the creator of Black Girl Dangerous, a revolutionary blog.
*Although this post is US-focused, I realize there are Folks of Color holding it down everywhere in the world.
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