Hidden in Plain Sight by Gloria Akinnibosun
Hidden in plain sight.
Is the perfect way to describe the plight…of Black women
You see, as a young Black woman, it is my onus to own us
It is my onus to live out the youth my precursors were robbed
To show the world that when they try to separate us from their team, they have lost, and
As a black woman, it is my onus to tightly squeeze our stories
Like lemon juice, too sour to taste but too yellow to not notice
That’s us. Hidden in plain sight.
The elephant in the room they wish to not acknowledge
The sweet honey from bees they would dare share with anyone else
because our legacies are way too sweet and the perpetrators are afraid of being forgotten
And although it’s not right, nor justified
We are often treated like the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden,
but Adam clearly didn’t do it alone
He didn’t solely carry mankind on his back but everyone places him on this thrown
We are Eve, we are finally done asking to be seen.
To be heard, to be taken serious and simply, not
blurred…from the photograph.
Peggy Holland, was and still is a product of her own light
A spark you only find every blue moon
A rose amongst thorns many others tried their best to prune
With a smile so innocent, I question how someone could render her as guilty of her own skin
As if we’re the judge and jury given the decision to pick what life we end up in
Classmates so badly wanted a reason to hate her, withhold her from her freedom
A hate without basis because they knew they could raise hell, not even hate was illegal!
Hidden in plain sight.
It is a timeless theme that runs rampant today
It did not just pack its bags and stay in the fall of 1958,
A time where Peggy was forced to overcome the odds
Find ways to feel even, and everlastingly hope that God would give her something to believe in
Imagine fighting for rights you were freely given at birth
Negotiating the terms of why you should have a spot on earth
Being treated like a life-threatening disease and all you get from the world is cold shoulders and cold feet
Do you know what it feels like to want to live but be hidden in plain sight?
It’s like trying to explain why you’re bleeding but they’re the ones who slit you with the knife
And even if you start making noise, the moment you’re silent you’re putting up a fight to justify….
…simply existing like Peggy Holland.
Large, drab, plain, and lifeless
These are four of the words she used to describe Waggoner Hall,
And it’s four walls was the building of what was Business back then,
But even when she minded her own business,
she was reminded how Black she was and the thickness
…required to survive. The skin needed to rise like dough,
The skin needed to withstand the blows that still don’t make sense to her today.
Being Black does not make you hidden
But it makes you question why you have to wrestle with darkness just to be seen.
Being Black does not make you mute, but it surely ties your hands up
Like the strange fruit on the trees in the middle of nowhere.
Helpless, hidden, and far from honored.
Even on the hottest summer day,
I will still get chills like I don’t belong in this space
Because Peggy was assaulted and objectified, and that is not okay
Textbooks and papers scattered all throughout the hallway
And she still bled her burnt orange like her life depended on it
Represented every acre of this school when it felt right
But who represented her?
Who is representing me?
Who is grabbing us by our horns to make sure we are seen?
Should we pray to God for better days and hope we don’t meet Him due to our demise?
Do we stand a chance at the top when we lack opportunities to rise?
Or do we play small because our presence is big and feed their pride?
Is it my dark thoughts as I walk past the Littlefield Fountain and wonder if I should take a dive?
Or should I succumb to the idea of hiding forever because the eyes…
of Texas are upon me?
Peggy was the first in business. The first of us to graduate from a place so cold.
And even in the coldest conditions, she deserved to blossom, just like them.
She was and will always be very visible, just as we saw it.
Video production by Justice Beverley. Music licensed by AShamaluevMusic.