Culture  Lioness

Cocoa Butter Column

I am the daughter of migrating lionesses
My ancestors, hungry for adventure and hopeful that the grass may be sweeter and more vibrant
Towards the other side of the ocean, I followed their footsteps I wholeheartedly accepted my heritage; my wandering soul; I am the sorceress of the night and the mistress of daylight, I too made myself a siren to cross oceans and finally realize Who I am:
An artist overjoyed
I speak with my hands
I let them create the world I wish I knew
I let them lead me to the colors hidden deep…
Within me there’s unease
I’m uncomfortable
Twisting, shifting in my seat
There’s something wrong
There’s a hand… invading my sacred space
There’s a hand that feels itself entitled to the crown resting on my head
There’s a hand searching blindly, desperately, wildly through my scalp for the last precious remnants of unsuspecting treasure from my ancestors
There’s a hand in my hair
Stroking and patting me like one would an animal in a zoo Stroking and patting me the way slave masters used to
This white, pale, and bony hand has no regard for consent. This cold corpse-like hand of the woman who calls herself my professor
This cold corpse-like hand of my oppressor
Searching for remnants of life with hands that have been known to bring death in the past
Her hands audaciously linger
In my hair
And I am powerless, for in these very hands rest my prospects for success
So, I smile. Like the docile “mulâtresse” that I am,
And I fantasize about the cigarette that will soothe my scalp of the first microaggression of the day.
I’ve lost all my safe spaces. I am invisible yet uncomfortably visible wherever I go. Statistically irrelevant. A drop of colour in a sea of Caucasian composition
A drop of colour on a land stolen from those of coloured tradition
If there were no mirrors on this campus I think I’d die from lack of confirmation
Of my own existence
Because there exists scarce reflection; sparse representation Of my own existence
And I don’t want to just do it myself; create the spaces where I can just be
Because I wanna just… be.

I am the daughter of migrating lionesses
My hair grows wild around my face like an unconventional halo of blessings, and memories, and reminders that I was born at the paradox of privilege and perennial plight. Although white privilege was mixed into the color of my skin I choose to embrace the side of me that embraces me back
White privilege does seem appealing at times, but honestly… color me black

Although I know how to dance and love among those of ultimate privilege,
This time my toes are getting unbearably sore
I can’t twirl, jump, sway, jive or thrive… like I could before. It’s comments like “why do you make everything about race?” that catch me off guard.
Drain me of my energy and force me to recharge
More often. Again and again and again and again
I must return to my core to heal the sores I have
From being put on trial for having an opinion about my pain I make everything about race because I am constantly made aware of my race.
Walk a day in my shoes. I dare you.

I am the daughter of migrating lionesses
So, I make myself a new home wherever my wandering feet lead me and I fill my rooms with sculptures and paintings that come to life, singing sweet serenades over my scars.
I lose myself in my art and find myself in the birth of every masterpiece
A reminder of my intelligence
A reminder of my worth
A reminder of the dedication to the dreams I hold deep Deep
Within my heart I feel outrage
The great grief that grips me as I open my eyes and witness the ghosts of genocides past
I’m in a classroom where history is being fed to me through the lens of colonialism
I want to scream as I’m taught to forget the black slaves of Quebec
I want fire to flare from my gaze the way Marie-Joseph Angélique set Old Port ablaze
In 1734, she longed to be a slave no more.
I want to protest as I’m encouraged to forget the Indigenous peoples who protested
The kidnapping of their children by holy men in black robes White men with black intentions
A cultural genocide that continues to haunt them today
I want to roar as I’m told to relinquish their pain to bittersweet happily-ever-after conclusions of Canadian history
But my classmates listen quietly
As the teacher paints a story
That’s begging me to forget, forget, forget
Forget? I am the only brown body in this room so pardon me not if I cannot forget
But once again I reach for my cigarette
To soothe myself of the second microaggression of the day

I am the daughter of migrating lionesses
And I refuse to let a curse kill my legendary enthusiasm
I got that caramel curse
That mixed girl melancholy
That melanin faded
That darkness evaded
That obscure clarity
But, my hair grows around my face like a lion’s mane.
I am the only lioness you’ll ever see with a crown that casts shadows lordlier than any lion’s mane
And like every good lioness I am a sworn protector of the weakest members in my pack
A pack of melanated bodies within which I find refuge from the fire of white fragility
I will soothe this pain
With the oils, waxes, herbs, candles, flowers and butters my mother taught me to use
I will break this curse
With the maps of migration my ancestors left in my shoes I will find my way
Step by step reconstructing my mental health
Finding refuge in sisterhood and in the art renaissance of this new age
Knowing that I’m not alone
Knowing that I’m not alone