Illustration courtesy of Natalie Johnson.

I AM AN ALLY IN PROGRESS

Dominique and the Chorus

by Stacy St. Hilaire

I was born from the seeds of strange fruit
swinging in the breeze. The smell of rotting
flesh in the summer, and being treated like a brute

Their way of life kills, but is also mute.
We lift every voice and my dancing feet sing,
despite red footprints from dripping strange fruit

I make clothes with pride and wear my truth
Fresh out the fire, I slay with courage to bring
the heat in the summer, while treated like a brute.

And I heard them say brown girls like me are not cute,
but I transformed and I felt good. Despite swinging
in life’s breeze, while they give birth to strange fruit.

A black phoenix, I rose out of ashes and as proof
I grew majestic. With Black girl magic I sing
my freedom song; they still treat me like a brute.

I was killed with blunt trauma like my life is a spoof
I could have flown away, but they clipped my wings
They couldn’t hang me from a tree like strange fruit
So they severed my legs instead, and beat me like a brute.

ABOUT THE WRITER

Stacy St. Hilaire is the author of The Facts: Collection of Poems and the cofounder and Editor-in-Chief of Femmily Magazine. She also works for Collective Culture Magazine and is Boom ViNiYaRd’s brand manager. She believes anti-racism is broader than tackling racism, favoring attacking any and all forms of inequality. Her personal “I AM” statement is “I AM committed to educating others and changing minds.”

ABOUT THE ARTIST

My name is Natalie and I'm 24 years-old from Brooklyn, NY. I'm a producer for MSNBC and newsletter producer for The.Ink. Politics are my professional world, and I turn to illustration for refuge. I love to explore intimate relationships between people of color, and the self-determination we reserve for ourselves, in my work. Anti-racism work I take root in comes from James Baldwin's words in The Fire Next Time: "Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. I use the word ‘love’ here not merely in the personal sense but as a state of being, or a state of grace - not in the infantile American sense of being made happy but in the tough and universal sense of quest and daring and growth.” Anti-racism work is deconstructing the masks we, as a country, fear we cannot live without. I AM working for a tidal wave of change.