‘Darnell’ and "Black Bodies Beauty"

"Black Body in Flight" provided by Nathan Stanton

Nathan Stanton has spent the last 10 years as a pastor, church planter and artist on the West, South and Northsides of Chicago, and is an Interfaith America Racial Equity Media Fellow 

The following short story and poem are a part of a series of vignettes from Stanton that we will be publishing each month and are connected to a larger narrative called Master Peace. The narrative is about characters seeking personal solace in a time of unrest. 

Darnell 

The warm crimson liquid dripped down in pools collecting on her blouse. The color that stops the world because of its sharp juxtaposition to everything else around it. Like the color often attributed to Jesus, the reddest kind. Blood yes and more specifically that of his sister. She had found the wrong end of another boyfriends fist that mimicked the same impatience of many past and to come. Darnell’s surprise was none but fabricated as I feigned shock over a situation he had witnessed frequently for at least a decade with the whole of four years between their ages. Charline kept the world afloat with her buoyancy and optimism but with their father leaving or being left early, they’d found soon enough that brother and sister would have to fend for themselves. He knew he was not fit to serve as a father figure but he tried as the occasional provider and even moonlighted as a protector. No shield could be erected high enough to protect her from the toxic mates that traversed the barren terrain and dotted the landscape. Like predators, they stalked her future as if serving as a stand-in for poverty’s resolve.  This town was a place that offered the most desolate picture of the future. When one graduated high school it was well known that leaving was the only choice available for those with any ambition. Otherwise teenage pregnancy, adolescent imprisonment, and general dissatisfaction would be the result. But very few would make it out. Daniel had the disappointment of being offered a basketball scholarship to an obscure university in the central part of the state. Even after cheating on his standardized tests, he could not qualify for admission. The dark cloud that followed him wherever he went was akin to the darkness that shrouded the brilliance of many in the black community. The race riots of decades pasted haunted the ambitions and crippled the resolve of many with the determination to shine outside of the rusty confines of this cursed enclave. 

Darnell was one of two children born to his mother first abandoned by her husband and then disabled by the obesity and diabetes that followed. Depression had taken a hold of her and hadn’t let go years before he could remember the “good” days. Now she only sat in the darkened room of their government-subsidized townhome. Barking barely intelligible orders to Darnell and his older sister who had inherited his mother’s likeness and penchant for hardly being seen outside of their home. By all standards of European beauty and Darnell’s friend's opinions his mother could possibly be the ugliest woman on the planet and maybe a crown her daughter was set to take after her demise. They had never been taught the beauty of the natural world cannot be matched by that inside of us. The dingy walls colored with the muck that comes from cigarette smoke had served as torturous protection from the prying eyes of judgment the world reserved for her inevitable visits to the store to open funds from a food stamp card that carried a shame all of its own. Many of Darnell’s friends could relate to some aspects of his existence but it was also as if he had won the lottery of misery in miserly revelry. 

On a journey to buy his mother’s foul brand of cancer sticks, he witnessed his sister returning from the latest attempt to brand beauty on her skin by way of destruction. What her once romantic suitors turned abusers did not realize is this nation has tried to beat a new beauty into us for quite some time, but yet finds the resilience, nay the nature of the black body's existence still persists. She held her head down in shame and barely stopped in stride to greet her sibling. Why would anyone treat him any more than invisible? For his own beauty had been forfeited long ago given to any vice that presented itself. He paused nearly shoulder to shoulder with Charline to hear a low rumble in the distance accompanied by shaking under his feet. She continued past and he ran the rest of the way to the corner store. Through the menacing stares of faces, he once went to school with as they blocked the entrance to the dilapidated building. Slung haphazardly amidst the well-worn businesses crowding the gum stained sidewalks. They stood ready to serve their community with the same disenfranchisement they’d learned from centuries of neglect. All to procure what he knew would eventually kill his mother. “But maybe she was better off dead”, he thought with a particular flourish that brought him peace. 

 

Black Bodies Beauty  

Honor the black body we must

from ancient trafficking to

fast lynching and state violence

to the slow disintegration in prisons

the environment has poisoned the land

long before a child enters in

 

God we trust has seen the lust

for destruction never satisfied but let the

love of Heaven’s divine deliver Us

America minus the willpower

to involve decency when capital hearts have

collected rust in the place of affluency

 

Black bodies beauty

Black bodies beauty

Black bodies beauty

Black bodies beautiful

 

Whether basking in the sun like black gold

Or languishing in the confines of forced

containment age old

The jump of the soul when the smile or ire

of an eye has been drawn in like Art

excited then inspired upon a whim

impart

 

Black bodies beauty

through this torrential trial of existence

approving the love upon humanity remaining

misspent.

Yet in its regal obstruction of privilege and revolutionary

garden remains like the

obstinate obsidian that will never harden.

If you are looking for a way to become an interfaith leader, work for racial equity and build bridges, please check out our free curriculum "We Are Each Other's" and start your interfaith leadership today

more from IFYC

As the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. echoed Theodore Parker, ‘the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’ Let’s bend it together.
In both my work as an interfaith leader and a dancer, rethinking is all about opening our minds, asking questions, and having conversations.
Some U.S. churches have been reckoning with this activity for years through ceremonies, apologies and archival investigations, while others are just getting started.
A global study of the communication patterns of 1.3 million workers during the global lockdown showed the average workday increased by 8.2% during the pandemic, and the average number of virtual meetings per person expanded by almost 13%.
Across Missouri, hundreds of pastors, priests and other church leaders are reaching out to urge vaccinations in a state under siege from the delta variant. Health experts say the spread is due largely to low vaccination rates — Missouri lags about 10 percentage points behind the national average for people who have initiated shots.
The solution, said Chris Palusky, president and CEO of Bethany Christian Services, is “the loving care of a family, not another orphanage.” He pointed to Scripture passages that say God sets the lonely in families and call on Christians to care for those who have been orphaned.
The following interview features Debra Fraser-Howze, founder and president of Choose Healthy Life, an initiative that fortifies community infrastructure to better address the pandemic in Black communities. The interview was conducted by Shauna Morin for IFYC; it has been edited and condensed for clarity.
The seven monks have been clearing brush from around the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center and running a sprinkler system dubbed “Dharma rain,” which helps keep a layer of moister around the buildings.
Over 800 Muslim Americans are expected to attend the family-focused event at the Green Meadows Petting Farm in Ijamsville, Maryland, making it one of the larger such gatherings around the country in the era of COVID-19.
Besides demanding equitable distribution of vaccines, the Interfaith Vigil for Global COVID-19 Vaccine Access called on the World Trade Organization to waive intellectual property rights for vaccine manufacturing in order to enable more countries to produce COVID-19 vaccines domestically.
Eid al-Adha, or the “Feast of Sacrifice,” is typically marked by communal prayers, large social gatherings, slaughtering of livestock and giving meat to the needy.
Our Lady of La Vang is said to have appeared in a remote rainforest in the late 1700s to a group of Catholics fleeing persecution in Vietnam.
This article is part of a series called Faith in the Field that explores responses to Covid-19—including vaccination efforts—within different faith communities. 
Yet the debate about the vaccine in Tennessee is not solely a debate about science. Rather, I believe the vaccine debate is also a referendum on our public capacity to embrace vulnerability.
The study found that while there are many promising signs that students perceive support for their RSSIs on campus, there is also considerable room for improving welcome, particularly for students whose RSSIs are a minority.
Coronavirus deaths among clergy are not just a Catholic problem, said Andrew Chesnut, chair of Catholic studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, with faith leaders across denominations having elevated exposure rates as “spiritual front-line workers” ministering to the sick and dying in hospitals and nursing homes.
Legislation legalizing human composting has encountered religious resistance from the Catholic Church.
From the 26th of November, 2020, a farmers protest has been in existence on the outskirts of Delhi, India’s capital city. For the past eight months, farmers in the tens of thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands, have been fighting three laws that threaten the future of agriculture in the country.
Sivan and I feel that it is crucial to work for increased vaccination rates, particularly with more transmissible and potentially more deadly variants emerging across the country and throughout the world.
We made calls to friends, disseminated flyers, engaged in social media marketing, partnered with faith-based communities, and engaged the local health department to encourage members of our community to come to our upcoming clinic and get vaccinated.
"It’s not about accepting other’s beliefs and pushing your own away - it is about being respectful, while still having the freedom to express your beliefs"

The opinions contained in this piece are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Interfaith Youth Core. Interfaith America encourages a wide range of views and strives to maintain a respectful tone with a goal of greater understanding and cooperation between people of different faiths, worldviews, and traditions.