I watched a black woman slice through chaos, and plumes of hot tear gas billowing, ignoring the cacophony of sirens blaring, shrill chants, batons meeting flesh, hooves against asphalt, and glass freshly shattered. She pushed through crowds thick with danger and marched up to officers looming equipped with armor and weaponry aimed; she is defiant, and unbroken.

The truth is the black woman is both the victim and protector.

Understand that the birth of a black child is a symphony of small miracles; it requires a mother learning to swim against a sea of oppression, laying in hospital beds unattended…


“It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot” - it was the title of the album that I hid from my parents and wore out all through ’98 and ’99. When I look back at it now, it was full of things my younger self didn’t understand fully, but my adult self now finds problematic: robbing, killing, and (*TRIGGER WARNING*) even lyrics about gross sexual abuse and misconduct. But what my younger self could see and gravitated to was how relatable the inner conflict was in DMX; how unmistakably human he was. The same man that wrote “Damien” about the proverbial devil…


Dear You,
I never really cared about you when I was younger.

I mean, I noticed you; you were always hanging around the White kids — the ones with the latest video game consoles, the new Jordan’s, and that took fancy family trips to Disney Land in the summers. They had the privilege of growing up with you. You were always with them, from the moment they sauntered out of their mansions and slid into their BMWs. I could recognize your scent whenever you all walked past…

As I got older and moved out to go to college, my parents…


I think we’ve all become numb to it.

Local news anchors and reporters droning on dramatically about the latest robbery, stand off, or car crash at 10pm. The grim tone of their voices syncing with flashes of wreckage, the red and blue strobe of police lights, and tearful families serve as a backdrop to our late dinners and pre-bed routines. We punctuate our concerns with “That’s terrible!”, “Oh my God — who would do that?”, or maybe “That is so sad — I can’t imagine!”, half-heartedly empathizing with strangers on tragedies and loss while waiting on tomorrow’s forecast. We have…


Food from Upper Kirby Bistro

“What does change for Black people really look like?”

Someone at my table of friends asked the question over the muted tones of Frankie Beverly’s crooning, and it hung in the air for a few seconds. We were sitting at one of the round tables at Upper Kirby Bistro, socially distanced, but close enough not to miss the smell of buttermilk chicken batter wafting through the air, aided by a light breeze from the patio, with the sweet scent of hot maple syrup trailing not far behind. Our waitress brought my chicken and waffle plate and I dove in —…


“How many drinks did he have?”

I hate that question, let alone when it’s mockingly from a stranger laughing smugly as he strolls out the bar. Who really counts if they’re having fun?

I tried to respond groggily, as Main Street swayed in front of me; it felt like a cruise ship hitting choppy waters. I just needed something — scratch that — anything — to lean on for a second. The feel of my palms against the cool, exposed brick just outside Dean’s parlor settled me as I tried to balance myself.

“I’m fine.” I murmured repeatedly to myself…


It was a sunny day, but Mrs. Williams was not in the best mood.
Her brow was furrowed, and her protruding lips which usually puckered out as though she was going to either kiss you, or spit on you, were now persed together tightly as she squeezed out tense words to the 6 little kids in front of her. As she paced back and forth, a few slivers of sunshine cut through the burgular bars and drapes of her cluttered living room and lit up her wrinkled brown face. …


“BLACK LIVES MATTER!”

The phrase cut through the staccato of shrill beeps and rustle of plastic bags as I looked ahead in the checkout line to see an older white lady, turned around, smiling warmly at me from behind her basket; she had removed the surgical mask over her mouth as though it might muffle the defiance that I saw in her gray eyes. She was serious. I don’t think she realized she had cut in front of me in the express line, but she was focused on getting my attention.

“BLACK LIVES MATTER!!!” she repeated, this time tilting her…

Kingsley Okafor

Storyteller.

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