This is the fourth installment of an online series highlighting work by Black authors published in The Common. To read The Common’s statement in support of the nationwide protests against anti-Black racism, white supremacy, and police brutality, click here.
It may be cliché to say this now, but how people treat themselves can show you how they treat those closest to them, then other strangers. I often forget to water my flailing herb garden. I often force my body—muscles hard from the lactic acid produced in my anxious panics—to be pleasant to my lovers, who expect pleasantries.
Harriet Hemings Meets Red Peter at The Russian Tea Room
“[…] as uniformly as is the preference of the Oranootan for the black women over those of his own species.” — Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia
“It is now nearly five years since I was an ape, a short space of time, perhaps, according to the calendar…” — Red Peter, from “A Report to an Academy” by Franz Kafka
Red Peter, it is so nice to meet you—I mean, you have to know how awful online dating can be. My father set us up—I think, based on your preferences in women, he thought we would have a lot in common. I must admit, I was excited to come to this restaurant. It is an excellent choice; the banana pudding is fabulous—the best in the city. I too love frequenting Paris, although I missed your performances with Hagenbeck. He also brought the world Otta Benga, did he not? I believe Mr. Benga resided in the same state where my father wrote his Notes. You are such a kind gentleman, compared to others. Here, let me adjust your bowtie; you’ve learned to be more human than most. Now, tell me, in your report to an academy, did you address your desires? Your dating preferences? Is the preference of the oranootan, in fact, for the black woman over his own species? Red Peter, my father would be very happy to hear about this date, if your preference is as such—I mean, for a woman like myself.