My Black Life Matters

Bright Nights City Lights, Jackie Phuong Ta


I can’t find the words 

that won’t escape my lips to reach paper. 

Setting up equipment feels unreal, 

even creating content doesn’t feel natural enough 

with all the chaos in the world. 

A break is needed and that’s okay, 

mentally you don’t want to be here in this space 

it’s uncomfortable – I’m aware. 

The conversations won’t end about black lives because we matter. It was never comfortable to talk about 

let alone experience each day. 

I can’t take my skin color off and hang it up in a closet, I can’t tiptoe around the looks that are made at me, 

I can’t be calm in a world that still doesn’t accept me for who I am. My voice will not be silent and nor should yours; 

you will hear what I have to say 

and you will be proud of it. 

My black life matters and will continue to. 

I’m not apologizing because my tone may rock the chair that you sit in, but you will listen. 

I can’t tune out the news when they make a mockery of my existence, there is no script to follow – for this is real life.

The high and superior have it all too well; 

they sure do make a coin here and there. 

Does history repeat itself? 

We’ve been living in the same century and were just at a different war. 

My brother and sisters, I am tired.

About the Author

Talya Johnson · Virginia State University

Talya Johnson is a recent graduate of Virginia State University with a Bachelors in Mass Communications. She is a writer of poetry and short fiction and served as Editor-in-Chief of One Twenty One, VSU’s undergraduate journal of literature and art, where this piece first appeared.

About the Artist

Jackie Phuong Ta · SUNY Plattsburgh

Jackie Ta is a senior BFA Artist in Painting and Graphic Design at SUNY Plattsburgh. She is from Vietnam. “Bright Nights City Lights” first appeared in Gandy Dancer. This piece was first featured in plain china in 2019.

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