Image courtesy of Neema.

I AM AN ALLY IN PROGRESS

Dear Toyin Salau

By Aarianna Barnes

Dear Toyin,

Babies shouldn’t be in streets
fighting for equality.

We shouldn’t have men
that prey on the lives of young women.

You deserved time
to see your dreams come into fruition.

As a Black woman, you gave:
us your strength, your voice, your
charisma.

As a nation: we failed you

You should have been more protected

19 should feel like: body changes; new friendship; self-exploration


It wasn’t on you
to take this nation's problems
onto your back
but you bravely did so anyway

You should be regarded as a hero
for showing up and being
unapologetically unafraid


When I look at you I see power
I see confirmation
I see change

ABOUT THE WRITER

My name is Aarianna Barnes, and I am a graphic designer at W. W. Norton & Company. I am also the CEO of Collective Culture Magazine (@ccmag_). When I’m not plugging away at my job or my magazine, I like to spend my time exercising and looking after my family.

CC Mag aims to be the first diversity & wellness digital magazine that provides resources to uplift and improve the physical, spiritual, emotional, & financial health of people of color. When we reflect on how precious life is, and how easily it is snatched from so many Black people, we begin to realize that this mission of “making things better” is bigger than all of us. And it rests on our shoulders to be the change here, and now, as urgently and as diligently as possible.

“I AM… spirit lead and anointed”

ABOUT THE ARTIST

Neema | Illustrator, Brand Consultant
Growing up in a multicultural household, I was challenged with identifying with only one culture. As a nation of immigrants, a majority of our families have had the opportunity to mold our worlds to make it our own, drifting from the conventionality of our homelands while still maintaining key elements of our heritage. My work borrows from the mixed realities of my childhood and, in turn, takes on a new wondrous identity of its own.

From the perspective of a first-generation American, anti-racism means more than just the simple tolerance of “other” people. Anti-racism is the active and ongoing effort to diminish our learned racial bias both on an individual and societal level while restructuring our systems to remove the very biases that it taught us. I AM creating for our future.