Less Than Nothing

Art By: Emily Bourne  [Image description: A woman crying "less than nothing" written above her head.]

Poem by Imani Joseph

I wasn't believed then
My childhood unraveled just like stories I told
I learned to dress fully clothed with family around
Family didn't mean safe but instead of wrapping shame around yourself like a coat in the winter
My nana grinds it into a tea

My truth then was stained in innocent ideals
False father figures
And glazed over in nigga

Dr. Blasey Ford was regal in court
Her uterus not a knife that pokes holes in her conscience but a sword wielded to fight off oppressors
Never touched
Only respected

My body has never been legitimate enough to testify on behalf of
I exhibit my molestation in the supreme court’s hallways
Knowing my truth is only valid when it's melted caramel painted on a Caucasian face
When asked who my muse is I hand over
Younger me in a white dress
Seams poorly held together by prayers
Thinking the cracks in concrete were earthquakes

When I reported my assault
Nothing happened
And I'm scared if it happened again
All I would have is a hollow hashtag for healing
If Dr. Blasey Ford couldn't do it
How could I
I can't even say the words
All I can do is weave my trauma into a thin blanket
And cry when it only protects me from the rain
Leaving me shivering to the beat of raindrops
Believing because no one said I was assaulted maybe I wasn't

I thought when I got older it would get better
It didn't

How can I advocate for me too if I haven't said it myself
What's the point of admitting it though
Dr. Blasey Ford did and nothing happened
I don't even have half her strength
Her education
Her diction
Her whiteness

If she's got nothing
What do I have