This is our first selection, the poem “I Used to Think” by Chirlane McCray, from the famous 1983 anthology, Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology, edited by Barbara Smith and published by Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press—a project instigated by none other than Audre Lorde.

Chirlane McCray presents the thoughts that few wish to preserve or explore—especially a Black male like me is supposed to be the least concerned. However, when I read the words, “I wanted to be light like my sisters,” there is a strange, sad celebration of discovering a truth congealed and made explicit instead of truth that is so frequently nebulous and fleeting. The cynical Black feminist may rush to the question, “Why is a Black male concerned about the ‘issues’ of a Black woman?”

Well, it goes like this: a Black boy can declare that a Black girl (with a deep, dark complexion) is beautiful; the Black girl can respond to this in a most unexpected way—she can find the Black boy silly and wrong—and condescend to him from her low self-esteem. This seemed strange to me: a person condescending from low self-esteem. But it is one thing for a Black girl with dark chocolate sweetness being jealously obsessed of strange women far away with European features. It is another thing entirely for our Black girl to envy the “light skinned beauty” of her sisters. Chirlane McCray depicts this psychology in a very engaging manner and does find a way of transcendence.

Chirlane McCray is an interesting person. Before this Brooklyn native appeared in 1983’s Home Girls, her story “I am a Lesbian” appeared in Essence in 1979. As of 2009, you will find her happily married to Councilman Bill DeBlasio. You can see her with husband and children, posing for the 2009 campaign. An interesting quote from “In 2000, Bill was the campaign manager for Hillary Clinton’s successful U.S. Senate bid.” You are now free to be curious about her position with respect to Barack Obama.


Written by . . . . . . . Chirlane McCray

Archival Research by . . . . . . . Bryan Wilhite