When you dig deep, you’ll find that both victim and perpetrator were fighting silent battles

When I was 22, I spent a night in jail for credit card fraud. I was a mother to six-month-old twins, unwed, and an undergrad in college. My former partner and the father of my children had not paid child support in months, and I was struggling financially. So when I was issued a credit card under his name and purchased $300 worth of diapers, clothing, and other necessities for the babies, I was doing what I thought necessary for our survival.

While the arresting officers were kind to me, I was met with swift disdain by the officers at…


This Is Us

Black stories are most rewarded when they center blackness — which, in a certain sense, is to center whiteness

Black and white photo of the author and her son posing on a street.
Black and white photo of the author and her son posing on a street.
The author and her son

It is a cool autumn morning and I am perched on my couch, a coffee cup nearby, a few pages into Claudia Rankine’s newest book, Just Us: An American Conversation. My 14-year-old son saunters in and asks what I am reading when I look up over the brim to tell him: “It’s a book on race by an author I met last summer during my writing residency.” “Is it good?” he asks. “It’s interesting,” I say. “But sometimes I get tired of reading about racism.” “Why… because it makes you angry?” he asks. “Angry is not the right word. Annoyed…


My exchanges with white people are disturbing.

When a child learns vocabulary words, he is often asked to use the new word in a sentence, to show his genuine understanding of its meaning and its proper use. He is being asked for original thought. Speak in your own words.

Likewise, a deep understanding and connection to any religion is often indicated by one’s ability to speak freely about their faith without reciting scripture or quoting a sermon they once heard. When you have developed your own relationship to a thing, it becomes easy to talk about it without a prepared…


In the summer of 2018, when I was studying in Paris, a scam artist robbed me of five hundred dollars outside of a church. In my humble opinion, I believe he needed it more than me.

Ironically, I had just visited the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, a church dedicated to the sacred heart of Jesus, the Redeemer of our sins. As I strolled through the crowds, I decided to try my hand at the shell game and bet a small amount. The dealer was warm and had kind eyes. He told a joke, which I can’t recall now but it made…

Herina Ayot

Mother. Woman. Human. I write about the difficult places. Follow me @herinaayot

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