Artist's Statement: Many times throughout this semester the Claremont Colleges, through institutional indolence, has proved it's complacency in the ongoing mental, emotional, and physical deterioration of its students of color. Though the official cause of death for Tatissa Zunguze was a suicide, it is of no great mystery for POC students or white students in POC proximity that these institutions played a major role in her passing nonetheless. This poem was written with the intention of placing responsibility where responsibility is due.
i don't know what death looks like
i can barely fiction up the way the dark shrouds and never peels back
i’m a fairy tale of a being
a disciple of the bible
and I am still waiting on the fate of Lazarus for Tatissa
for her body to rise four days after the burial
for black jesus to put a foot down on the disappearance of his daughters
to march into the dean of students and tell them about themselves
finger wagging and fire in tow.
damnation on the fraud of this place
for ‘here begins a new life’
( but i’ve never seen so many dead brown bodies on a campus)
never knew it was possible to be gutted out and still standing
is this what they meant when said ‘Scripps girls fight back’?
is this a battle staged?
some sort of tuskegee toxicity?
I ain't think it was possible to live like this
and then you don't.
and then she doesn't.
and you learn toxic and lethal are synonyms
i still have never known death
but i've dipped my fingers into the hole it leaves in the night
i’ve seen it’s shadow too many times here
it double dutches between the cross section of black and women like child's play
i know what she looked like
i knew the venus in her skin and the saturn in her smile
i knew of how the planets aligned and on the quad every afternoon after class
on days the sun couldn't find a clear stay in the sky
it would instead settle for the apples of her cheeks
she was the first black girl I saw here.
we didn't even speak that day.
they say most of human communication is non-verbal
the exchanged black girl smile was enough to say everything that needed speaking.
I glad to see you
let's talk about irony
i go to see Get Out
and leave excited to talk about a tale of fiction
i enter the suite and hit drowning waters
ain't this what it is to hit home?
when a horror movie would be better escape than reality.
to not need news to tell you bout latest brown body
the girls in the suite eyes are dried out from crying and outlined in red
adorned with diamond pupils
ain't that why this college love them so?
they the crystals on the front page of the brochure
diamond black girls.
but why they test them like this?
Last night they accounted for their comrades
This morning they could only
Dip their fingers in the holes one left
And promise to paint the ashes everywhere.