Features

HOW I CAME TO WRITE “BLACK ON BOTH SIDES”

Diana Veiga

by Diana Veiga

Most of my stories start from an everyday occurrences I’ve observed. I am, to put it simply, a very nosy person. One time I was on an Amtrak train and watched a white man bump really hard into a Black woman and just keep walking. She loudly said, “Excuse you!!” to his back. I really admired how she made both her presence and irritation known. When I’m on the Amtrak train, I like to play a game and count how many stops I can go without anyone sitting in the empty seat beside me because apparently nobody wants to sit next to a Black woman.

I wanted “Black on Both Sides”  to explore how Black women are simultaneously hyper visible and invisible in our society. I also wanted to explore the class differences within the Black community, but how none of that matters when you’re fighting racism and white supremacy. And while the fighting is exhausting and can break you, Black women see each other and heal each other when no one else does.


BLACK ON BOTH SIDES

by Diana Veiga, The Northern Virginia Review, Vol. 34 

There is you. And then there is the ghetto girl. Both of you always in the same places. On the same train car. In the same grocery store. Or in the same bar that’s in the neighborhood where she grew up that is now being gentrified (by whites and by you if you’re being honest with yourself) and she is the element that is no longer supposed to be there, but she and her friends showed up anyway. Made sure you saw them. Heard them. Judged them. Hated them. She is in the Walmart and at the liquor store.

She is everywhere you are. Seeming to take up all the space. Leave you with little air to breathe. Because she is always louder. Brighter. Bolder.

Today, you are both in the middle of a nondescript café in downtown DC where busy people are waiting for their breakfast sandwiches but are really engrossed in their phones.  She is standing to your right, just a few feet away from you. Her weave too long, in a neon hue no human could be born with. Shirt too tight across chest. Jeans too tight across thighs and ass. Life too tight and suffocating everything—as she makes it known to her friend on the phone and everyone in the café . . . read more

DIANA VEIGA’S freelance work has appeared in various online publications including The Root, For Harriet, and Very Smart Brothers. Her fiction has appeared in Politics and Prose’s District Lines Anthology, Volumes 1 & 2. She is a member of the first class of the Kimbilio Fellowship for writers of the African Diaspora. a graduate of Spelman College, a DC Public library employee, and a DC resident.


Poetic Forbears to the Black Lives Matter Movement

In “Poetic Forbears to the Black Lives Matter movement,” Kim discusses three poets who were born enslaved yet rose to be leaders in the struggle for Black autonomy during and after the Civil War, not to mention writers of note: Fanny Jackson Coppin, Frederick Douglass, and T. Thomas Fortune. These poems appear in Kim’s new book, By Broad Potomac’s Shore, to be released in October 2020 by the University of Virginia Press. The anthology features 132 poets working and living in Washington, DC from the city’s founding in 1800 through 1930. Kim is a former contributor, guest speaker, and long-time friend of The Northern Virginia Review.