“You’re not racist if you find me pretty”
Sitting downtown Montreal, mid-afternoon spring, at the kind of booth that makes your pelvis sink, in the kind of café where you can stay for hours without buying a thing.
And no one has cleared the cups of soggy knotted teabags. The staff are wearing collared polyester and leaning against the display cooler. The windows are level with the sidewalk and people’s shoes and ankles and bicycle-wheels pass by our heads.
Earlier I saw someone smoking under the awning in the rain and thought of you. I thought of how beautiful you are, and I don’t tell you this, but know that I could and that would be alright too. Tomorrow is your third date with someone more than cut and paste.
What do you do on a Friday night?
I wash my arms.
And your life? What are you doing?
I love you.
Because she couldn’t hear past the barking anymore, the low growl and the hiss.
No, you’re not racist if you find me pretty.
Attends: tu penses que je suis raciste? ?
Je voulais juste savoir
d’où tu viens
je te trouve belle.
Your curiosity tastes like vomit. Your curious entitlement to interrogate my ancestral origins, colonial narratives of migration, grief, diaspora that we have not unraveled and yet exist through—
to draw forth the accumulation of every other moment before this when a dark body has been a site of violent intrigue.
Because she looks exotic: sweet–potato caramel, something to bite into with pleasure.
Flesh beneath your tongue, your words are never innocent, loaded with power you may not have asked for, granted by default you entrench entitlement.
This is your responsibility, white man: swallow your tongue,
direct your gaze to what’s
charging your bark.
We are not laughing.
You say you’ve been watching men jogging and you’ll let me know how it goes.
word by Alisha Mascarenhas
colour by Jasmine Okorougo