By Nina Reyes
The brown boys from your hood will smile at you as their hands stray past your back in the reluctant hug you gave them. You shake them off you and quickly laugh. Excuse it as a shiver. They smile at you, teeth glinting like sharp knives. They lean in and whisper things into your ear that make you laugh as goosebumps spring up all over your arms. You tilt your head to the side and look at them real hard. They may not be the most good looking, but if you never known anything else these are your options. You smile, giving them your number. You hope he texts, or calls. He won’t. He’ll text back after hours. He is merely playing with you. And you know. Oh do you know.
This game that seems to never finish. Of the flirting, the looks. The lies, the deceit. You don’t want to play, but it’s not as if you have a choice in that matter. All the other girls from your hood do it, and all your tias have been bugging you, asking if you have a novio or an amiguito. Some part of you likes the game, likes the small thrill that shoots up your body from the chase. Everybody you know does it. So you might as well join in.
The black boys will regard you at a higher standard than they do the black girls. You don’t think about it for a while. Loving the attention, you kiss them and date them. You never bring one home. You know what your parents will say. And if you do introduce them, you say sorry. You don’t know what your parents will say. They put up a good face while he’s there, and start commenting once the door closes behind him. He loves everything about you, mentions how your hair is beautiful. He’ll smile at you. If he’s from the hood, he’s probably cheating on you. You smile tightly. You know this game too well. Yet you’re going to keep playing.
The white boys will call you “exotic.” As if they never seen a brown face before. They say they like “spicy” girls like you. Girls full of fire. They say mami, and a bunch of other things in Spanish, butchering your mother’s tongue. They make jokes about those who look like you, and in the next minute whisper in your ear how different you are from “those people.” Your people. You shrug it away and laugh. You are told you hit jackpot. They mention how lucky you are and you respond with an “I know.” He meets your parents. They love him and his whiteness. Poking fun at him because of how lost he is in the conversation. He laughs and clutches your hand. Your mind eventually wanders to the ugly thought of when he will leave you for another girl. Or even worse. When he will leave you for a white girl.
This flash fiction was inspired by Junot Díaz’s short story from Drown, “How to Date a Brown Girl (A Black Girl, a White Girl, or a Halfie).“
This was based off of the Jamaica Kincaid poem of the same name on the week of gender. I detail the society’s expectations of people who identify as a female.
Your skirts must be as long as your fingertips, else you are a slut. Only call out for rape if you are a virgin. Act like a sex object and satisfy our fantasies, but don’t make it too obvious. We may be tempted.
Be fat, we want to see the real you. Oh wait, be skinny and have a thigh gap. You know what, be curvy, that’s what a real woman is.
Let me explain every little word, excel in every little thing and don’t complain. I may not call you a pussy, but you bet that you are one. Just let us be better than you, it’s the natural way.
Your body parts are my business, just like everything else. I’ll do whatever I want with them, talk about them all day long. But you know what’s not my business? Periods. I don’t wanna hear about them. I never liked fertile girls anyway.
Oh, and once we get together, do the laundry. I have work to do, with the boys and all. Do what women should do. You’ll rule the kitchen, I’ll have the living room. Shh, honey the game’s coming on in a few minutes.
I’ll hide the fact that I’m actually projecting all my insecurities onto you and this is the only way I know how to take control. You won’t ever know the real me, no one will and I’ll continue burying you in commands just like my father did to me.
By: Almond Rich
Your arms should appear fragile– or at least, not as muscular as a guy’s.
You should shave your legs because it looks unhygienic to have so much hair growing.
Your hair should be tamed and never look too slept on– take pride in your appearance. You’re representing not just yourself but me as well.
Always wear earrings; you’ll look girly that way.
Get rid of any idea involving playing basketball, softball, rugby (all the rough contact sports). Consider cheerleading (something more feminine).
If you decide to show any piece of skin from the waist down, always make sure that your skirt or shorts pass the length of your fingertips.
When you wear a dress, and you find yourself sitting down anywhere like the train or bus, cross your legs all the way (even the slightest spread is inappropriate).
Take the time to chew your food before you speak. No one wants to have food bits launched into their eye.
If you have to burp, excuse yourself from the table. Have some manners since no one likes to eat with a pig.
When someone asks you a question, be polite and answer the question, no matter how absurd it sounds; these are the things that young ladies do.
This piece was inspired by Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl,” a semi-autobiographical flash fiction reflecting on women’s oppression.
by Chance Kelly
Wear that blue skirt with the polka dots that I like so much. Wear that red lingerie for me, baby, and take it off real slow like they do in the videos. Don’t tell your friends about the fight we had last night— no point in bringing up the past, right? Don’t talk to that guy ever again— I don’t like the way he looked at you, acting like he doesn’t know you’re mine. Don’t look so sad all the time— do you know how hard it is for me to explain to people why my girl looks so depressed? Don’t whimper like that— can’t you just smile? Smile when you see me walking down the school hallway after that “argument” last night. Smile when the police ask you if you have any idea where I could be. Smile when you say “No, I have no clue.” Smile when you cry for me at night. Forgive me the next morning. Forgive me for those harsh words, baby— you know I never mean those. Forgive me for her— you know she could never replace you. Forgive me for that one night— I only did it cause I love you, and you love me too, right? Come on, baby, lay down for me— I have to go home— but what could be more important than me?
This flash fiction was inspired by our units on gender and sexuality: Jamaica Kincaid‘s “Girl,” which regurgitates commands a girl has heard for being a proper young lady, and Junot Díaz‘s “How to Date a Brown Girl (Black Girl, White Girl, or Halfie),” a pseudo self help manual for young men who want to become casanovas.