It is black Friday. I am wearing a black hoodie with the words RACIALLY PROFILED printed in white across my chest. I am selected, randomly, at check in. Hands in my hair,
down my back, in my hometown airport.
Never touching my skin, only the fabric that is covering it. I am slightly embarrassed by all the eyes on me, the culprit, I can hear the What Did She Do’s? clearly.
This is not coincidence. I wore this hoodie to the airport on purpose, I always do. My hands are swabbed with something that resembles a big band-aid and processed through a machine making static-like noise. They are finally tired of my black ass antics. The guard asks am I ok with this as she takes off her rubber gloves, as she finishes the job. I stare at the machine that holds my fingerprints inside. This is something I expected to happen at one point or another, yet right now I am mad that it is happening. She asks again, am I ok with this. She knows, but she doesn’t know, that I have become accustomed to being looked at as if my face is made of the darkest of chocolates, but I am still dirty. She doesn’t want to touch me. She never lays an ungloved finger on me. This is something I pick up on and now I am scared of accidentally rubbing my flesh against her tension. I know I will immediately say sorry if I do. I do not want a white girl to feel uncomfortable by my presence. I go out of my way to show my teeth. I have to prove that I am harmless and clean. My cocoa butter lotion will not rub off on you and make your skin look like mine, I promise, believe me.
As she throws away her rubber gloves, I don’t ask her why she chose me because I know she cannot tell me the truth.
When I get to my terminal, I am met with blue and green eyes that scurry to the floor in fear that I might take a seat next to them—I hope that it is because I am talking on the phone too loudly; it’s either that or the purple braids that are literally down my ass.
I can feel myself changing, growing blacker in all the stereotypical ways that bring about love and loathe. I can feel myself changing. These braids are so long and separate from who I am. This is making me angry, presenting myself to this terminal only to be rejected. I quiet my speaking voice on the phone. I move my purple hair out of the way. I try to fix my face into a nice one. This anger is blocking my blessings. It never shifts. It is always there, showing niggas what they can and cannot do.
The boarding process begins, they call Zone 2 and I make my way into the line. I am being watched, again, by white toddlers who look as if I am a rare stone they have never seen up close and personal. I am watched, again, by their mothers who move them out of my way to stop them from engaging with my walk of shame. I am being watched, again, what I do, what I say, how I move in the vicinity of the majority, it is hard for me to pass, I am not a passive girl. Although they get a pass, for being white, for having man-made authority. They get smiles and welcoming body language. On the other hand, I cannot even publicly claim that I matter without a: but not more than me echoing in my autobiography.
I am boarding a plane on black Friday and I just got off of my period yesterday. I am feeling empty. There is no more blood left in me to shed. I sit down in my seat and the flight attendant is making jokes about picking your favorite child in case the plane happens to go down. I am sitting on a plane, black— in black pants— in a black hoodie—on black Friday. If this plane goes down, it will land no lower than where I already am on the all lives matter totem pole.
At takeoff I close my eyes and say a silent prayer that if this is my last day on earth, Lord, please forgive me for my thoughts about white folks.
Kendra Allen is a twenty one year old girl/woman from Dallas, Texas who is currently entering her final year as an undergrad studying nonfiction. In pursuit of innovative literary enlightenment in print, film, and television, she wants her art to tell the truth. Besides an interest in words, Kendra enjoys soggy cereal, the most offensive hip-hop, and run on sentences. She has been published in Harpur Palate and December Magazine.
Artwork by Damon Locks