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Jesica Juleseus


How am I? Well, I guess I am guilty.


I am guilty of wanting to rubberstamp my reply with the usual “Fine” or “Okay.”


I am guilty of bingeing. Bingeing news, chocolate, and negativity. Guilty of showering just to get redressed into another pair of pajamas. Guilty of consuming more Netflix than novels. Guilty of scrolling through endless feeds, stories, and timelines in a failed attempt at escaping reality. I am guilty of watching earwax removal videos and Dr. Pimple Popper. There. I said it out loud.


I am guilty of wishing time would speed up in the same breath that I wish time would slow down. My son just turned one too fast. My son is teething too slowly. My son is walking. My son is saying “dada” and “dog” and “hi” and I am guilty of being upset that he is not yet saying “mama.” Guilty of knowing to my core that he is doing it on purpose; holding out because he absolutely knows it kills me not to hear the word I have been waiting to hear since before he slipped into this world.


I am guilty of holding him too tightly. Guilty of fighting back tears and thoughts. Thoughts of him hurting hurts that I cannot fix. Thoughts of him growing up too fast. Thoughts of him being taken away too soon. I am guilty of being a stay-at-home mom because I do not trust the world. In this world, a world of which I am guilty of fearing, I think ahead to the day that he grows up only to be someone else’s fear. Someone else will fear my beautiful bright baby boy just because he is brown.


I am guilty of being angry. Guilty of being speechless. Guilty of shutting up and shutting down. I am guilty of wishing my fingers could more effortlessly release the running commentary in my head onto a page, thinking that maybe if someone hears me the world will be better. I am guilty of thinking that no one is listening; the body count being way too high to have been heard.


I am guilty of being a mom in a world with a little brown boy whose innocence is an hourglass. I am guilty of knowing that it is not a matter of if but a matter of when my son is no longer seen as adorable but as a threat in society. Seen as lesser than. I am guilty of sensing the “We are all in this together” tagline for this pandemic does not include my family because we are brown.


I am guilty of wishing I were fine. Guilty of wishing I could simply be dismayed by inconveniences. I am guilty of censoring myself and of overthinking. Guilty of overexplaining and undervaluing my culture. Guilty of overcompensating for and underestimating the ignorance of others. I am guilty of living on guard and of living life a little less, not because of the pandemic, but because I am brown.


I am not okay. I am guilty of thinking this world is a bit too broken. When the images of my son learning to walk morph into those of society forcing his steps, when the sound of his new voice becomes just an echo in a crowded unjust world, how is the world going to answer him? How am I?

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All images other than author photos and artist artwork ©Matthew Batt 2020