Cast Away, Together Alone

I am on a capsizing ship but there is no lifeboat, I sink . I clamor to swim and those in the lifeboats tell me that if I just swim hard enough I could just save myself. The tide fights me until a golden sand reaches out and offers me a hug. I gladly accept her embrace ignoring the ocean who is green with envy. Tears swirl down my face like tiny skiers on a salty slope as my arms and legs surrender to the sand. Moments later, the lifeboats angrily meet the sand without notice or concern. 

A sea of lifejackets spread like chicken pox across the sand with dots of demanding orange.  In disgust, they point out my hair, swollen limbs and tattered clothing demanding to know why I am not presentable. The others had managed to arrive with lifejackets and the assistance of the Coast Guard. Shouting, pointing and insisting that their lives matter too. If I were just strong enough tread water a little longer, I could have waited for help to arrive. After all, they were involved in the shipwreck  and managed to get to shore.

 Others voices clamor to rescue me, yet I am still trampled by those running towards freedom. I am beat. My face sinks into the sand and my lungs scream out in rebuttal. The sand opens her arms and the ocean eagerly takes hold. I am drowning. I grab a leg on the sand to get attention; pleading. The voices go dark and overtake me. I am drowning. I am drowning. Where is my life vest? Why do you stand idly by and watch me take my last breath? I am drowning.

As a Queer Person of Color, I am drowning and I am the only one who can rescue myself. I live on the outskirts of privilege I will never own or have rights to. I am entangled in a complex web of systematic racism that seeps into every part of my being . It is a terminal illness for which there is currently no vaccine. My voice is silenced and my tears go unnoticed. I am told that my color is insignificant but in contrast that I must conform to a eurocentric standard of beauty.  I will never be enough. 

Do not sugar coat my oppression.  Let me be clear: hate is not a thing of the past or just in the south or limited to acts of violence. Oppression is the chain which binds me from freedom and enslaves me in racism, homophobia and anchors me from privilege. It is both the source of endless  strength  and the weakness in my achilles heel.  Do not sugar coat my oppression.

 I am defined by a narrow-minded ignorant society that is entangled in colorism. I celebrate my juicy lips, my thick thighs, large perky breasts, and curly hair. I do not need to conform to Eurocentric beauty standards in order to appease your fragility. My ancestors were stripped of all essence of royalty. The rights to the throne were always ours and our birthright never changed due to circumstance. I am an African Queen. I am an African King. I wear my crown proudly  and with no need for explanation. Bow down or be banished.

 I am an intelligent, creative, outspoken person who is mad as hell.  The bloodshed of my family stains my soul and despair creeps in suffocating my every will to keep moving forward. Do not silence my screams and my intense rage.  Make no mistake, I see you hiding in the shadows with a scowl of disapproval. I will not succumb to your judgement nor will I ever get a just trial. You are killing my people……. you are slowly and intentionally killing society.  Let’s not forget that It is our blood that made the American dream that you so casually  strip  away one life at a time. Do not claim to love all, but only accept some. 

I am shipwrecked, cast aside and left deserted on an island of injustice.

I am not alone. We are still here. We are still fighting. We are still here.

 Can’t you hear our plea? Can’t you feel our tears? Can’t you see our blood ?

Will you ever let us free from bondage? The debt has been more than paid…

What is the worth of a soul?


  1. So poignant, Melissa-Malcolm. It’s an evocative and descriptive metaphor for the perpetual pain and oppression you face. Thank you for sharing your story.

  2. “Do not sugar coat my oppression.
    I am defined by a narrow-minded ignorant society that is entangled in colorism.”
    “ Do not silence my screams and my intense rage”
    “ It is a terminal illness for which there is currently no vaccine”

    Thank you for writing and sharing. I hope the current awakening of so many people will be like the lancing of the abscess throughout the world-body. it has to come out and we need to look at it. We need to understand. We need each other, everyone.
    Thank you.

  3. Melissa, your words and your voice are powerful. Thank you for using them to help us confront our complicity and call us in to the work. The fact that you have to ask us that last question is heartbreaking and confronting.

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