When we had a problem in our home growing up, my mother would call a family meeting. The four of us — my mother, father, sister, and me — would gather at the kitchen table. My mother held court — her arms folded across her chest, often peering over her…

This Is Us

Because our world is always on fire somewhere

Soft sunset view from highway.
Photo courtesy of shea or jane martin (depending on who you ask).

They said firefighters were coming on Friday. I spent the week in mirrors preparing the perfect smile for my fire truck photo. Head tilt to the left. Neck up just a bit. Grin. Open your eyes. Don’t say cheese — it’s a trap.

Friday came but the trucks didn’t. Instead…


Right now, it is not my voice that matters. It is theirs. Both here and here.

Bear witness.
Send them love and light.
Act in solidarity.

reconciling with what has always been

[to be recited with the fervor of a Black Baptist preacher with sweat gleaming on his/her/their temples, with the stillness of a child asleep after playing all day, with the joy of your belly after poundcake, with longing, with a desire to spend your…

The lights were on when he arrived. Room silent except for scratches and streaks across paper — the sound of compliance. Fumbling with the door latch, he bumbled into the room and was greeted by laughs and shouts.

“Oh snap.”
“What up, Kwamae?”

Shirt untucked and hair beginning to…

[trigger warning: sexual assault, rape]

I did not understand most of the fiery language that rolled off their tongues. You do not have to understand words to remember them. …

Note: This essay first appeared in the All Y’all Collective’s Mouth of the South Series in February 2020.

This week, another heartbreaking news story(1) regarding the traumatization of black children in our schools filled our timelines. This time, she is a beautiful brown-skinned six-year-old arrested at her school by the…

After Chance the Rapper’s “Sunday Candy”
A sermon on love, faith, and queerness

It is 1995. I am standing outside of Mount Nebo Pentecostal Church. White gloves don my caramel-coated hands. I search through my patent leather white purse for hard candy. I find it at the bottom, underneath a…

for me

This morning, I woke up.
In the middle of a pandemic.
I am thirty-one.
Healthy, well and loved.
No candles needed — i am living my wish.

One year ago, I made a list of 13 goals for my 30th year. Like most of my dreams, the list…

for mom

me and my mom, 1993(?)

On her last birthday here, my mama, brown-skinned and big boned, sat propped upon a throne of white pillows, her presence reigning over her illness and her stubbornness denying her body’s desire to quit. A symphony of blinking lights and beeping machines brought her back to life for…

shea martin

boston-based lit educator, researcher, and mixtape maker raised at the intersections of gospel and go-go. find [them] dreaming and working toward liberation.

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