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LaToya Baldwin Clark

But want and need are two different things. And I need this.

Very tall building with many windows and fore escapes and a sign on the side of the building that says, “How are you really?”
Very tall building with many windows and fore escapes and a sign on the side of the building that says, “How are you really?”

As I write this, tears are on the verge of spilling over already puffy eyes. The clench in my stomach and pain in my back are making it hard to think. I’m trying to do busy work — formatting a paper, researching for an infographic, writing this — to distract me from when, in a few hours, I start the process of getting better. I start therapy. Again.

Getting better requires confronting the worst. The feelings of failure. The self-loathing. The guilt of believing that you are not what the people around you need you to be. The bad habits…

Not because they were Asian. Not because they were women. But because they were Asian women, undivided and intersectional.

Photo by Eutah Mizushima on Unsplash

I hadn’t done anything to him.

All I did was step off the curb.

“Get out of the street you Black bitch!,” as he raised his White middle finger.

My face flushed and I looked around to see who noticed this moment of public humiliation. No other Black women were around, but the Black men and White women in the vicinity averted my eyes. I found neither protection nor belonging with them. This was something that I faced alone: not White, not male. Black and woman. Undivided.

On Tuesday, March 16th, the country endured something that was seemingly commonplace pre-COVID: a mass shooting. A White man…

Hunger is an inescapable aspect of my Black womanhood

Black woman’s empty palm against a black background.
Black woman’s empty palm against a black background.
Photo: Nsey Benajah/Unsplash

~ Nikki Giovanni, “Adulthood II” (from Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day, 1978)

There is always something / of the child / in us that wants / a strong hand to hold / through the hungry season / of growing up

My heart is a lonely heart. It reflects the beginnings of a depression that I will learn will encompass much of my life. I live in a Black body that doesn’t know her womanhood, that doesn’t know how to see herself as herself, as a being worthy of love. I do not want to be White, but I do…

The PTA is a social club of Whiteness. But I’m not in the Club, and these women are not my friends. Yet, I’m still here.

Blackness is moving in the world and entering spaces that do not belong to you. It is a quick scan and not being at all surprised to see only White faces. It is sitting down with an existential sensitivity to being both watched and ignored.

Whiteness in these spaces is defined as more than melanin deficiency. Performing Whiteness is engaging in the room in the way only Whiteness allows, not questioning your entitlement, being dismissive of racial others, and thinking your perspective is the middle norm from which all other perspectives deviate. This performance of Whiteness excludes. …

But they are Black, and failing is not an option

The routine does not change.

8:25 am: “It’s time to get up.”

8:35 am: “BOYS, it’s time to get up.”

8:40 am: Deep breath. “I’m getting REALLY annoyed. GET. UP.”

The older two eat quickly and then retreat to their rooms to start the day. We make breakfast for the 3rd grader, usually bacon and maybe an egg or two. We have to be careful to not burn the bacon, and make the egg right, or he won’t eat. I’ve already reached my patience limit. I’ve been awake for 20 minutes.

8:45 am: “M, it’s time to get on your…

To walk and live and breathe constrained by White threat is not to be free at all.

He didn’t complain when I told him we’d be taking a weekend trip, an opportunity to change our surroundings. He’s newly 15-years-old, a man-child in all ways: loves yelling at video games but finds his 8-year-old brother’s similar behavior immature and thinks it’s nutritious to eat only French fries for dinner but also thinks he’s qualified to question how I let his brother only eat one broccoli spear (“When I was his age, you made me eat all of them!”). He’s also an introvert. During the day, he moves from (1) his desk, next to his bed; (2) to his…

What we remember as the past cannot actually be “past” because we are continuously making and remaking that story.

Four African American women seated on steps of building at Atlanta University, Georgia (circa 1900)

When I was a child, I felt that I was always at the whims and mercies of the adults around me, pushed and pulled and prodded and poked with very little agency. I sought out clandestine ways to exercise autonomy wherever I could: hiding medicine under my tongue until I could get to the bathroom to spit it out; wearing green socks instead of pink to ballet, hoping no one noticed; drawing the water for a bath and sitting on the…

I was afraid that her releasing her locs was also a way for her to release me.

Most say that my thirteen-year-old daughter looks like me. While she usually smiles politely at the constant refrain, “You look just like your mother!,” she resents the comparison. More than once she’s said, “No, I look like myself.” Yet she cannot disclaim any resemblance; she will admit that her eyes close when she’s smiling, and that when she’s old enough, she wants to sport a nose ring like her mama’s. And until recently, she had my hair.

When as a newborn, she had dark, luscious hair which ebbed to just a few strands by two. But during her third year…

Black Watchers are special part of the Black village needed to raise a Black child.

An older Black woman sits in the window, watching the world of the street below. She’s known by everyone who passes by, many of whom greet her affectionately. The kids on the block don’t have as high of an opinion of her as do the adults; for while this woman knows everyone’s business, she’s especially watchful of the children. She has no problem letting a mama know real quick if a kid steps out of line. The parents of the block have a certain comfort about that, knowing that the woman in the window is watching over their children. …

To be White with an illegitimate grievance is to be untouchable. But to be Black, living under conditions of legitimate grievance, is to be under threat of death.

white nationalist rioters at the capitol building on january 6, 2021
white nationalist rioters at the capitol building on january 6, 2021

On January 6, I watched, on national TV, White Nationalist Terrorists walk and run and push their way into the Capitol building in Washington D.C. Egged on by their Grand Wizard, they engaged in “trial by combat”, violent insurrection, exactly as the GW’s should-be-disbarred lawyer instructed them to do. They scaled walls (not always successfully), broke windows, crushed a woman to death, beat a Black woman bystander, and killed a police officer.

LaToya Baldwin Clark

Law professor. Teach and write about the law of educational inequality, property and the family. Mom of 3. Amateur artist. All opinions my own.

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