“Triple Consciousness” by Ilrak; April 2021
(Note: This was finished in grief after the murder of Daunte Wright)
I am Black and American.
I am a Raven.
I am Human.
I am not.
I want to fly and caw with the others.
I want to hop down the street and be myself.
I want to dance in the rain and the sun and feel the wind on my arms as I run down the street.
I cannot fly.
I cannot caw or hop or twirl or dance or run down the street
Someone will see it and think I am dangerous
Think I’m a threat because of my Black Body.
I have to walk with carefully measured steps, lest someone accuse me of intoxication, rather than seeing me for someone who struggles to pilot too big of a body.
I have to carefully measure my words, in case someone things I’m being aggressive.
Being a threat.
I cannot give into the feelings I have as a bird because I am in a body that some people see as a threat.
I am in a body that America wants to break down
I have to keep my head down and act as my body would, even if it feels alien to do so.
I have to remember I am human.
But I am not on the inside.
I have to remember my body because of the way that America sees me.
The way the world sees me.
I have Du Bois’ Double Consciousness,
the twoness of souls in my own body.
The Black body and the American Body.
I have Triple Consciousness.
I am Black.
I am American.
I am a Raven.
I look at my arms and I see clipped wings
I see the ancestral scars from the chains that tried to bind my body’s ancestors all at once.
I see a body that cannot be chained, a spirit that cannot be held back
Hands that are delicate and strong all at once.
I see beauty and I see color that people pay to get
Hair that people pay to get
Curves that people pay to get
A body that people pay to get and also try to put down at the same time
I see myself and I don’t see myself.
I look at my face and I see exhaustion from generations of pain
And then I see skin and lips that are beautiful, more beautiful than a sunset,
But also do not see the face that I feel should be there.
I see a face that I am immensely proud of for surviving over thirty years
But also a face that I still don’t recognize as mine.
I see a face that would have made my ancestors proud but confuses my raven mind.
I look at my body and I know that America does not see what I see.
America sees me as “hood”.
As a thug.
As a commodity.
As the Angry Black Woman.
As someone who is too emotional, who can’t feel pain while at the same time feeling too much to be taken seriously.
As something to be pushed down.
My people see me as family.
As someone who shares the joy and the pain.
They are the closest to seeing the real me.
But so many don’t because I’m not human on the inside.
No one can see what I see on the inside.
I see a raven.
I see someone who wants to break free and fly.
Who has enjoyed the good that humanity has created and who wants to mourn what humanity has done to hurt others who live in the same skin as I do.
Who wants to scream and cry and lash out and ask
“Why do you hate us?
Why do you hate my people?
Why do you hate our blackness?
Why can’t you see my people are human?
Because even though I am a raven on the inside, I am a human on the outside.
I love being Black. I love my body.
I want to be a raven again. I miss that body.
I am Black. I am Human
I am a raven. I am not human.
I am both.