February 16, 2021 by ConTextos

Hard Histories

This piece was written during circle in our new program Into A Black Beyond. IABB is a digital reading & writing circle for Black Chicagoans to explore topics relevant to this inflection point in history and to grow and learn together. Click here to learn more.

Senyah Haynes is the proud author of the Jayla’s Jaunts book series for children, where culture, magic, and history intertwine (available at www.palindromeglobal.com). She proudly reps the Southside, because though she’s a So. Cal transplant, Chicago is her heritage home and her roots go deep. She’s excited about the 2021 release of the anthology From A Black Perspective (Rainbow Room Publishing, LLC) which features not only her writing, but one of her paintings as cover art. She has two main goals for her Into a Black Beyond affiliation: a new experience to dazzle and delight her, and to meet kindred souls with whom she can map out many creative thoroughfares in the future. An interesting fact about her (in case you haven’t noticed from reading this) is that her name is a palindrome. And yes, her parents did that on purpose. Of her IABB inclusion: she’s grateful to be here.

Hard Histories

Senyah Haynes

Hard histories  

Break that down  

Hard- solid, firm, immovable to some extent, or certainly unmalleable  

Hard- not soft, not fuzzy; fierce even  

Histories- not one, but several  

Stories, his and hers  

What happened, what really happened  

What has been  

The truth as it was presented 

That’s what the brotha said we have a problem with –  

We the people, we Americans, we who live on stolen land built by stolen people  

We can’t handle knowing, hearing, or accurately retelling our hard histories 

We can’t stand it  

We are not able.  

We would rather frolic through the lily fields of our own imaginations 

Myths, national fairytales, and goose down lore  

Our sanitized notions of what happened before  

Our outright lies.  

Of course, don’t forget that when I say “we” 

That word is relative  

Because we the people, the Americans, those living on stolen land built by stolen people  

Don’t all shy away from our national hard histories  

To many it ain’t even history 

It’s the in-your-face, never ceasing, reality of hard times now

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