We move to page 154. The walls moan like a grandmother who has walked up too many steps. Then they settle back into their braces. No one else seems to feel the shift when we flip past the gray call-out that details how:
Black girls and women have fewer cases of anorexia and bulimia than white girls and women. Young black women emphasize that beauty is about more than weight and appearance. Full stop.
The footnote is not about wrists in East Africa or period blood spilled in slave ships or stomped jaws in Civil Rights marches or Sunday pressed hair burned up with the bodies or baby bellies full of babies or vaginas gaped open in rape or bodies decaying in poverty or minds that look at words and just see letters or shoulders stuffed in jail cells or crack-rotted teeth or mouths forming all the wrong black things. It’s not a picture of fetishized asses or flared nostrils or begging hands or mothers crying over dead sons’ bodies. There’s no picture. There’s nothing to picture. It’s just a community of women who, by some phantom magic they cooked up within themselves, have learned to exhume their own beauty from the black holes in other people’s hands. It’s just them wrapping it in newspapers and dish towels and gifting it to their daughters generation after generation.
I dug for seventeen years to find this one statistic in a textbook. With no footnote. I’m at a full stop. The class spills on to somewhere else. I can’t go with them. It took me so long to get here.