For Brown Girls: A Tribute

Ya'll, I have lived many lives. It sounds cliché every time I say it, but I have been many things to many people and myself over the years. Case in point, sometime in 2014, still living in the U.S. and working a 9 to 5 job, I reconnected with a former high school friend who convinced me to became a guest blogger on her highly entertaining blog filled with personal musings on love, sex, and relationships. Over Instagram DM's this morning (because who talks to each other on the phone anymore, anyway?) we were reliving this period and I couldn't help but re-post something I wrote for her in April, 2014.

I sat in a leadership training yesterday. In a room full of white, happy smiling faces who talked of their spouses, their kids, their cars, their routines.

I tried drinking the kool-aid, but found it too bitter to swallow. Then this, in the midst of the workshop on 'Time Management', spoken in a hurried manner and  meant for no one else but me. This single line "... time spent looking for things I lost." 


Time Spent Looking for Things I Lost

I lost my mind, 
Lost my money,
Lost myself when I was with you
Lost my dream, and can't seem to find it
I lost myself in a brown ocean awash with white sands
Lost myself in the midst of our laughter,
Mistaking it for friendship

I lost myself,
Lost her, them, lost it at all
I lost my culture, or at least I forgot it
I feel it further slipping away from me, but in a disconcerting way, 
I don’t feel too lost without it
I lost my virginity once,
Then lost it again

I lost lovers, but yet
I lost more friends,
I lost everything, without losing anything
Time spent looking for things I lost
Time spent losing myself

But I’m not lost
Just wandering


I wrote this yesterday afternoon, the words finding their way onto the page before I could even think them. Then I logged onto Facebook this morning and found I had lost one more thing that I didn’t know I had; Karyn Washington, creator of For Brown Girls, by apparent suicide. 

I looked at Karyn’s smiling face and felt a sadness beyond explanation. Here was a brown girl with braids like mine, in the same bun I had wrapped around my head this morning as I got ready for work. A black girl who had struggled with self-love and inspired many more brown and black girls to love themselves. A brown girl who was finding her outer beauty in shades of red lipstick that she brazenly rocked.

I was her and she I.

We had both found the beauty in our skin, in our hair, in the sway of our hips, yet each recognizing the pain that black girls must bear in their journey to self discovery.

I had never read her blog, For Brown Girls, or even heard of Karyn Washington, but this morning I lost myself again. I lost a friend I never knew I had. Karyn’s life and death representative of the struggle of colored girls everywhere. Needless to say, Ntozake Shange came to mind and consoled me with a black girl song.  

Lose yourself with me and “let her be born…” 

For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When The Rainbow is Enuf:

sing a black girl's song
bring her out
to know herself
to know you
but sing her rhythms
carin/ struggle/ hard times
sing her song of life
she's been dead so long
closed in silence so long
she doesn't know the sound
of her own voice
her infinite beauty
she's half-notes scattered
without rhythm/ no tune
sing her sighs
sing the song of her possibilities
sing a righteous gospel
let her be born
let her be born
& handled warmly.

- Ntozake Shange