an ode to justice. and ode to my heart. an ode to you.

YUNFAN TAN, A Collection of Dancing Leaves

this year was one of the hardest years of my life. i lost some of the most vulnerable parts of myself, my body, & my heart. and in turn, i felt like i was in a constant state of mourning.

mourning. i cried uncontrollably.

i mourned.
for the best friend(s) who broke my heart.
i mourned
for my body.
i mourned.
for my sanity.

and the thing with sadness, especially when it is tied to an inexplicable loss, is that the feeling, the emotions, feel all consuming. you begin to believe that you are irreversibly and insatiably sad. no matter how many times you close your eyes and count to ten, count for peace, count to ten. no matter how many times you tell yourself you believe otherwise, count, and then, it will be okay. that you are okay, that you believe in okay. no matter how many times you pray.

or forgive
or pray that you forgive
because you don’t want to believe that the people you love will hurt you
because you don’t want to believe that the body you love will hurt you
because you don’t want to believe that the you you love will hurt you

your heart becomes riddled with pinecones of sadness, a sadness that you begin to believe is an inherent part of you now, 
and that is a grave injustice.

i think often of this concept of justice, a consequence of being black in this world. a consequence of being a woman in this world. a consequence of being a black woman in this world. we think often of this concept of justice.

when the world hurts you, when the people you love hurt you, when you hurt you, it is maddening as much as it is unjust. and it can drive you into the depths of yourself, drowning as you question what love is, what freedom is, what good is, what you is. and you begin to believe that pain is an inherent act of justice.

i think as black people we’re prone to think incessantly of this concept of justice. it is often interpreted then,

within the confines then
of the world, of institutions, of history.
and we fight for that justice.
we march for that justice.
we pray for that justice.
and sometimes, i think,
we forget about the justice
between you
and me.

the justice that comes from saying, i love you and i care for you and i am here to protect you in this world that won’t do that for us

i write this to say, that amidst the pain, amidst the sadness, amidst the mourning, i learned about justice.

which means,
i learned about love.
which means,
i learned about freedom.
which means,
i learned about love.

i found justice in the people who loved me relentlessly, unabashedly, kindly and warm. even when they were fighting the world. even when they were fighting themselves. even when they were fighting me.

i think justice is a reciprocal* love.

i write this reflecting on all the people who have loved me this year and have taught me about justice. who have allowed me to radicalize my visions and understandings of a justice as
i see you
i hear you
i love you
in this world,
in this body,
with this heart.

and i write this to all of those who allowed me to find the justice in resilience. who allowed me to find the justice in me.

as i tell her, i love you and i will fight for you in this world that sometimes won’t do that for us.

and i think often of how i believe in that justice.


*i write this, as a piece of reflection, as an indictment on myself and as an apology to all those who i have hurt, whose justices and freedoms i have encroached on. and i write this, as a person [on this campus] who sometimes wonders if you all do the same.

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