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Photo by Esther Ann on Unsplash

I want to age like sea glass.
Smoothed by tides, not broken. —
Bernadette Noll

I rolled like thunder through
Gullah and Geechee islands.
Stretching for my northern star but
yearning for your sickly embrace.

I screamed like a haunt.

Chased your irises till
my dust dress stained red.

The going was rough.

Your hands and espresso offerings
made my smiles foggy, and
banished joy to
hazy phantom surf, where

We spent high tide in syncopation,
schlepped through regrets
holding another like we could flee
like we couldn’t drown if we held tight enough.

After our dances among sheets And…


CODE-SWITCHING DIARIES #3

What happens when we stop asking others to change for our comfort?

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Photo by Nico Marks on Unsplash

When my classmate rattles off the answer in her Atlanta accent, it sounds like a half-defrosted pork chop baptized in grease. The discomfort pops against my skin, tangible and heavy. All I can do is smear it away from the pockets of my elbows and knees and pray that she stops trying so hard, soon — before our more privileged classmates learn the secrets of our most subtle and effective armor again racism in academia: code-switching.

Code-switching: Using a Karen voice instead of a Keisha voice (knowing the difference). Minimizing Black culture to accommodate “standard” American culture. Spending two hours…


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Photo by Robert Andall on Unsplash

You run into a knot. It writhes like a rattlesnake den.
Hesitant, you push forward,
towards this coiling, buttered Medusa.

The rattlesnakes warn you, plead with you
that their type is not built to curtsy to combs
to bow to burdens.

But you already know that your curls
have never sashayed
into place.

That they just exist, outwards, upwards,
always (allegedly) taking up
someone’s personal space — sometimes even yours.

The rattlesnakes shrink in the humidity and,
fragile, emotional, dried-out like unkempt barley
gallop across stolen prairies.

But you press forward, undeterred. Humming, you reach for the sage and peppermint…


Interrogating the Pan-Africanism of Beyoncé’s film “Black is King”

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Photo by Mike Von on Unsplash

so, here you are
too foreign for home
too foreign for here.
never enough for both.

“Diaspora Blues” by Ijeoma Umebinyuo, Questions for Ada

When Black Americans try to portray Africa, and reconnect with their roots, it’s not always a perfect process, even with good intent. Likewise, African depictions of Black Americans can reinforce backwards stereotypes of Black Americans. So when the word “Wakandification” first appeared on my Twitter feed after the release of Beyoncé’s Black is King, I had a feeling it would tackle a prickly topic that has long interested me: Black American and African relations. …


CODE-SWITCHING DIARIES #2

Black™ Twitter has found my playlist, and they’re going to take my card away.

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Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash

My Black card—everything I’ve worked for. Learning the Cupid Shuffle, running away from the dance floor when “Before I Let Go” comes on for a “water break” (I never learned the steps) and running back for “Knuck if You Buck” (THAT one, I know). Pretending that I know how to play dominoes (I slap the domino down loud enough to clear up any uncertainty). Learning spades in secret before a tournament among acquaintances (I will still lose).

All the things I thought would solidify my identity into one smooth jojoba oil-laced word — Black (also pronounced buh-laque, for the Talented…


Get in loser — we’re reading happy, uplifting poems.

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courtesy Neon Tommy — Wikimedia Commons

Many things make me weary — politics (I studied it for four years and will continue to study it in grad school, don’t ask me why), non-negotiable moral issues (no, Brad, eugenics really isn’t a “devil’s advocate” kind of discussion), and sometimes even fantasy books (N.K. Jemisin has a great bit about that here).

But one thing I’m especially weary of, is this belief that I have a limitless pool of strength, and that art pertaining to me and my culture must revolve around slave narratives, or Black pain. …


This really isn’t what we expected, but we are making the most of it.

I asked fellow graduates from the Class of 2020 to give their best advice to underclassmen. Here’s what they had to say:

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2020? This ain’t it, fam: Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

CW: Mentions of sexual/physical violence.

Zora Neale Hurston once wrote that: “There are years that ask questions and years that answer”.

2020 has been a year that just screams. Forever.

For some college students, however, the source of our problems began in 2016. Trump was elected, ISIL destroyed irreplaceable heritage sites, cell phones exploded, Zika, etc. etc. Things rarely got better, but we knew to be resilient. We found ways to cope and stay focused. By the time 2020 rolled around, we were perhaps too confident that things couldn’t get worse.

They did.

While I’ll spare you the gruesome details…


Just publish my think piece already!

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Photo by Soundtrap on Unsplash

You’ve come to this page because you want to share your writing with us. Great! Here are some guidelines.

Unless submitting through a Twitter prompt, you will need a Medium account to get started. To receive any payment, you will need a Medium Partner Account. Read more about that here.

CURRENT PROMPT: FALL 2020

What does your fall semester look like? What options have been offered to you? Are you taking a year off? Can you take a year off?

We want to hear more about your expectations and hopes for this next semester…


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Photo by Sai De Silva on Unsplash

And no one bothered to tell her.

As Jessica stumbled across the too-hot asphalt, heels scraping like talons, she wondered who decided that only some of the population could look raggedy. Dolly Parton was never described as raggedy, but Whitney Houston was fair game. Jessica was neither of those women, but she could easily be put down just for being even a little out of place. She hated the word “tired” too, when she forgot concealer or foundation, but she hated the idea that someone at her place of work could call her “raggedy”.

But does the description fit?

Maybe…


By Maya C. James

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Cover art for “Dirty Computer”

In this first installment of the pandemic mixtapes, we take a look at uplifting music, literature, and other art that promises hopeful futures during uncertain times.

After ending my senior year of college in full crisis-mode (thanks, Corona), I googled one of my least favorite buzzwords between classes to get myself out of a funk: self-care.

I swiped through list articles (elegantly formatted advertisements) and was force-fed the same advice: draw in coloring books, buy more products, use new apps to buy more products. So, I cleaned out my beauty cabinet to find “new” beauty products, gave into a 40% off sale online, painted my nails (I hate painting my nails) pastel pink, and promptly chipped off all the polish trying to…

Maya C James

Writer and Poet, Grad Student, Dreamer. You’re doing great sweetie. Website: mayajameswrites.wordpress.com Twitter: @mayawritesgood

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