Woke Brown Girl

The author as a young girl in Nicaragua.

photo: Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodriguez

Sometimes you feel like you cannot be contained. Some days you feel like you are in flames and if people get too close they will get burned.

Being this shade of brown, having this much at stake all the time and still thriving feels uncomfortable, but it also makes those around you that much more uncomfortable.

You were never meant to be contained. You were never meant to be held within one pair of hands, within one brain, within one soul. You were never meant to belong to anyone but yourself. Nobody can hold the sun, much less hold you and all your brilliance.

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You shine and you are too much shine for most people. Your passion scares people. You’ve been told to simmer down, to lower your voice. You have been told that you are inappropriate. Outsiders snicker about you because they do not understand that you are not up for consumption. You have not allowed them to become comfortable around you so you are the enemy.

Your explosions are threatening to people. You represent all those things that they want to be, but embody all the things they despise. You scare people because someone like you cannot be where they are, but here you are competing and winning and taking names. You are so important to other chingonas around you, young and old.

You boil. When you are angry, you carry your nations' indignation on your back. When you are upset, you carry your family line on your shoulders. When you are near tears, your heavy breath recalls your indigenous ancestors who were murdered by colonialism. When you are mad, you boil with the pain, displacement, isolation, and greed that has directly impacted your life and the lives of those around you.

You outwit just about everyone in your path. You were always quick on your feet. You always knew that people around you were trying to take your feet from right under you and you learned to deal with it. You learned how to thrive without legs; you learned to make it when everyone around you swore you never would. You are and always have been unstoppable because you had to learn to become strong enough for you and your unreachable dreams. You became the scariest and strongest and smartest person in a room because you had no other choice.

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You are not gentle, but you are the gentlest. You can pick someone apart with one swift swoop of your street smarts combined with your book smarts. You are vicious and unrecognizable to your mami when you go off on someone. But you carry so much love for those in your barrio. You carry so much love in your smile, reserved for those few that get you, for those who will always love you just as you are.

Woke brown girl, you are the scariest human being to ever exist because you were born with the wrong shade in your flesh, wrong gender, and wrong socioeconomic background, yet here you stand without a quiver in your lip spitting at the face of oppression. For that reason alone, woke brown girl, you are special.