Spots on the Rug

“The assault on Black bodies is not always by police officers and campus security; it can be done by the ones that are trusted with your love and support.” – Joshua Redd

By Joshua Redd • 

The House. The Red One.

Right there on Macdonough.

You can leave me on the corner, I’m fine.

I live at the address, but the house isn’t mine.

The rules of ownership are entitled to the mother, the sister, the dogs, the roaches, the mice, the boyfriend, the nephew.

My own entitlement is my room; a hand me down from my sister.

Her stuff still clogs the drawers

Her coats still hang in the drawer.

What am I entitled to?

How can I use the words My and Home in the same sentence?

How can I breathe free air when it’s sucked out of my mouth and used to bring someone else life. 

The juice she spilled still stains the rug.

The dog’s pee still stain the rug.

The failed attempts of my mother to wash the problems away with Clorox and fantastic still stain the rug.

The tears from crying about my auntie dying, my doggie dying, my uncle dying, still stain the rug.

The comfort of a pillow is not enough to ease the discomfort of existence.

You go to sleep and wake up. . .

That’s it- you wake up.

You wake up and realize that everything is the same.

You wake up realizing that the boyfriend that called you a faggot all your childhood still lives in the house.

You wake up realizing that him and your sister have a baby so that nigga stuck here forever.

You wake up realizing you still live on that small red house on Macdonough with the stained rug and only your bed to hide in.

Hiding in darkness, waiting for the dream to crawl out your mind and stretch itself over your reality.

How do I live knowing that a rug, smothered in dirt, dog piss, fantastic, Clorox, is all I can get?

How do I live with the insecurity of my own masculinity?

How do I live being a Black sheep in the Black community?

How do I live knowing that I have no space to do so?

And after 8 years, these damn stains are still on the rug.

The same stains that keep me from inviting friends over.

The same stains that make me cringe when my mother tells me we’re hosting family gatherings in the house.

The same stains on my life that has destroyed my sense of self and self acceptance.

Through my journey, though, I have made some optimistic revelations.

This poem isn’t as sad it sounds.

Blackness is my medium.

For me to restore hope, I have to create hope

The potential of me to stop self loathing i need a little self love.

Maybe I can finally clean those spots on the rug because my mother wont.

So, no Gabriel Fernandez (8) , Giovanni Melton (14) , the stealing of your little Black 

lives is a reflection on the toxic masculinity running rampant in the Black community.

I am your hope. I am your guidance. 

I love you the way the men in your life didn’t.

The assault on Black bodies is not always by police officers and campus security; it can be done by the ones that are trusted with your love and support.

So, I keep asking you how do I live?

I don’t know. . .I just do. 

I have no other option.

Thank You.

Joshua Redd is a gay Black male attending a predominantly white institution (PWI) located in Maine, who is deeply interested in the intersections between gender, age, class, race, and all the other intricacies that life has to offer. 

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Black Feminist Collective is an intergenerational group that stands for Black liberation in its entirety, centering the voices of Black feminists and womanists.

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