[ Short, fluffy. ]
Erik was in the middle of talking with a group of his guy friends from his youth before they stepped out for more protesting and solidarity. All of the men are wearing black from head to toe, poster boards with various quotes such as:
The new racism is to deny that racism EXISTS
Skin color is not reasonable suspicion
I CAN’T BREATHE
Justice for Breonna Taylor
Erik was in the middle of writing on another poster board when he heard his ten year old daughter, True, call for him. Her voice was shaky and small, the sound of it causing his chest to tighten. Erik recapped the permanent marker before turning to his beautiful daughter with sepia skin, her cheeks wet from her fresh hot tears.
“What’s going on, True? why are you crying?” Erik pulled out one of his dining room chairs, grasping True’s tiny hands in his, bringing her closer to him with urgent eyes.
“I was gonna tell mama but she’s sleeping and she might go over there,” True looked down at her pink converse.
“Listen, whatever you were gonna tell your mama you can tell me,” Erik squeezes both of his daughters shoulders, “Talk to me, baby, what happened?”
“Kimberly, across the street,” True timidly pointed towards the open window that was sending a warm draft throughout the dining room, “She said I was ugly.”
Erik could feel his friends movements behind him still. True averted her eyes to look at the wall, trying her hardest not to break down and cry.
“Okay…why did Kimberly call you ugly?” Erik spoke calmly.
“She said my skin looks like tar…it reminds her of an apes skin.”
Erik’s eyes flickered with rage as he watched his daughter cry before him. How dare this little white girl say that about his beautiful black daughter? How dare she make a joke that her ancestors before her would have made about his daughter? He wanted to charge over there and bang down Kimberly’s door. That all sounded perfect but all it will lead to is the police being called; the pigs.
“True…I want to tell you something,” Erik cleared his throat; raspy voice strong and abrasive because of his anger towards what Kimberly said, “there is this quote from Marcus Garvey…it says the black skin is not a badge of shame but rather a glorious symbol of natural greatness,” Erik gently takes True’s face into his hands, his thumbs wiping away her overflowing tears.
“Your skin is a glorious masterpiece, the sun kisses your skin like no other, hey,” Erik soothes True, “black women, black girls; there are different shades of beauty. Beauty is about being comfortable in your own skin. Kimberly’s words shouldn’t matter, you know why? Because Kimberly isn’t my baby girl. Kimberly could never be you because no matter what shade of melanin you are, know that your skin tone is brilliant. You, my princess are phenomenally made!”
“You’re a gift, baby girl!” One of Erik’s friends says, the others following suit with more compliments and encouraging words.
“That melanin tho!” Another one shouted, causing everyone to chuckle and True to blush.
“Black girl magic PERIOD,” Erik says pulling his daughter in for a hug, “I want you to repeat after me, True…I love my dark skin.”
“…I love my dark skin,” She says while keeping eye contact with her father.
“I am a strong melanin princess,” Erik playfully squeezes True’s Afro puffs.
True giggles, “I am a strong melanin princess.”
“I am impressively dripping in black beauty, and can’t NOBODY tell me otherwise, say it.”
“I am impressively drippin’ in black beauty and can’t NOBODY tell me otherwise!!!” True shouts, Erik’s friends wolf whistling and clapping in the background.
“SEE, that’s what I’m taking about. You are my beautiful, chocolate, princess. Kimberly ain’t got nothing on you, she envies you.”
“Thanks daddy,” True gave him a wide braces filled smile before wrapping her arms around Erik’s broad shoulders, “I love you daddy.”
“I love you too, True,” Erik kisses her kinky hairline, “Now, remember what I say. You gotta love yourself, baby girl.”
Erik stood up from his seat, grabbing his permanent marker and handing it over to True, “Before I go, I want you to write something powerful on this poster board that represents all the black girls in the world, okay?”
True uncaps the marker, walking up to the poster board. She stood there, staring at the black canvas, unsure of exactly what to say. She gasps, leaning over to write something out. Erik watches his daughter write big letters across the white poster board with a wide dimpled smile.
“Black girl MAGIC!!!” She shouted before holding up the poster board for the others to see, “Daddy! I wanna go protest with you!”
“Okay,” Erik simply says, “We’re meeting for a rally, call on the spirts of the fallen and our ancestors to be with us. Remember, Asé?”
“That means amen, right?” True says.
“Yes. It is an African philosophical concept through which the Yoruba of Nigeria conceive the power to make things happen and produce change. It is given by Olodumare to everything - gods, ancestors, spirits,” Erik stands fully, “I am root of your root, soil of your soil, bone of your bone, and blood of your blood. Love, love, love, asé.”
“Will we say asé for Breonna Taylor?” True says with wide hopeful eyes, “She still didn’t get justice.”
Erik smiles proudly at his daughter for knowing her name, “Of course. For all those who deserve justice and who didn’t deserve to be taken away from us. All of our people.”
A knock came to the door, a hard knock like the police. Erik shared a look with his friends before walking to the door. Before he opened it Erik peeked out of the living room curtains, holding a hand up to his friends to let them know that everything was okay. Erik had to watch his back, he was a strong voice for the Oakland community. Opening the door, Kimberly and her mother, Suzanne are standing there. Suzanne looked startled for a second but she gathered herself, turning a blazing eye on Kimberly.
“I’m sorry to bother you, Erik, but I overheard my daughter say something very, very cruel to True while they were writing with chalk on the pavement,” Suzanne looked embarrassed, her eyes avoiding Erik’s, “Is there something you have to say to True!”
Kimberly twisted her foot on the steps, her face solem and her long, black hair shieldjng her eyes, “I’m sorry True for calling you a monkey.”
“And I am terribly sorry for this,” Suzanne has a hand clutched to her chest, “I don’t know where Kimberly heard this from but we did not teach her to talk like that. You should be ashamed of yourself-
“Kimberly is a child, children absorb everything around them. Not to cause problems but…maybe Kimberly heard it from her other white friends? Maybe they don’t like True so they told her to call my daughter a monkey.” Erik gave Suzanne a stern look as if he were watching her suspiciously.
Suzanne blinked at Erik with confusion, “I think I would know if my daughters friends said anything like that, Kimberly, did Rebecca and Sabrina say anything to you today about True?”
Kimberly looked like she wanted to hide. True didn’t take her eyes off of her so-called-friend. She knew the truth but she wanted to hear Kimberly say it. True grasps Erik’s hand tighter. Erik looked down at her, her silence enough to let him know that there was more to the story.
“Kimberly!” Suzanne shouts.
“Rebecca doesn’t like that I play with True. She says that her father thinks all black people are infectious and corrupt.”
“WHAT!!!” Suzanne’s voice boomed like she was holding a megaphone to her mouth, “Kimberly, why would you allow your friend to say those things about True? Why would you say things like that? I am so embarrassed right now,” Suzanne points a stern finger at Kimberly, “apologize again!”
Kimberly angrily wipes away her tears with the back of her hand, “I’m sorry True! I’m sorry I said that!”
“I accept your apology,” True leaned into Erik’s solid body, “But I can’t be friends with you anymore.”
Suzanne felt True’s words as if she were the girls friend. Kimberly angrily storms off across the street, running up her porch and into the house.
“True, I know what Kimberly said was very mean but…you don’t want to be friends with her?” Suzanne looked offended.
“No, she doesn’t. I’m sure those girls have picked on my daughter and the fact that Kimberly knows that shows that she will do it again. My daughter doesn’t feel comfortable with your child,” Erik wrapped a comforting hand around True’s shoulder, protecting her guarding her.
“Well,” Suzanne turns to leave, “I’m sorry again, True.” She looked like she wanted to say more on her daughters behalf but instead she walked back to her home.
“Did I do the right thing, daddy?” True asks, looking up at her fathers with sad eyes.
“You did what was best for you, that’s the right thing, baby girl,” Erik kisses True on top of her head, “Let’s not tell your mom about this just yet, you know she will raise hell about it.”
“Yeah, let’s just go protest,” True pulls her fathers hand back inside, “Let’s go, daddy, we have to get out there!”
“Haha, okay, Princess.”