At the time I sit down to write this, 22 people have been victims of homicide in Richmond, VA thus far in 2021. Gun violence killed the majority of them. One of the dead is my nephew.


My nephew is dead.

Right now, he is dead.

He was


by person(s) unknown,

likely by a boy.

Yes, a boy,
close to his age.

My nephew will forever be 18.

And I think that maybe some boy around his age shot him, although I don’t know for sure who or why,

I know it was
for no reason,

They don’t get it

Aint lived it or died it or thought they were dying while they lived it suspected they might already been dead from it had friends die of it have friends dying bout it

Ain’t never woke up on the Honor Roll wondering if today was the day that you and Shay were finally going to throw hands because you refuse to let another person hit you hurt you push you without fighting for you

For yourself

and what are you even but somebody that some people love and love to forget and love to test


I heard the gasps of surprise before my video connected on my end. I knew that the people in the meeting could see me. The green light of my laptop camera shined. In those few seconds delay as I entered the Zoom room, I set my face and held my head still. My hair proceeded me into the digital space.


I’ve temporarily dyed my hair purple, and I knew it was going to be a thing.

Blurred photo of me and my purple hair.

I did it on purpose.

I wanted to change my hair.








Not because…

For J.H. and C.M. and my students

Who are apologies for? I ask this question in ethics classes. My students and I have discussions about things like why people apologize, how, and when — especially the when, timing matters in apologies.

In the recent months, three groups I have some history with or current stakes in have issued what amount to apologies for past racism. Each time these statements were issued with grand fan fair, even in pandemic times — there were press releases, news stories, prepared speeches, videos. …

I am an insomniac because of my father’s drug addiction.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

I can remember what I was doing on each and every one of my birthdays since I was 3. A Mickey Mouse themed 3rd birthday with neighborhood friends, a house party when I was 4, a trip to the movies when I was 5, an amusement park when I was 6, Chuck E Cheese when I was 7. By the time I was 8 my home life had come undone. Love couldn’t win over crack. …

Photo by Tom van Merrienboer on Unsplash

Recently someone asked, “What will you tell your daughter about sex?” Whoa, who knows? Parenting is improv. I sometimes try to do it like I teach my courses — with clear objectives and planned out experiences, but mostly I just wing it and try to be fully present for her and hope that’s enough. Really, that was all I was missing as a kid, fully present, listening adults. Like I say all the time, I was loved but I also had to learn really early how to fend for myself when it came to just about everything. Sex was no…

Photo by Jeremy Paige on Unsplash

The recent Lifetime documentary, Surviving R. Kelly, has sparked conversations about the normalization of sexual predation and the grooming of children by adults in our culture on social media that I have been teaching about in college courses for the last decade. Years ago, before I started teaching about these issues, I started writing about my own experiences in an attempt to make sense of what I thought about love, desire, and power as a young Black feminist. As a young teen an older guy in my neighborhood took an interest in me...

Summer 1993

When I was 13, I lived in…

V. D. James

a creative and an academic with diverse interests in writing, art, personal style, and activism.

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