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|Publisher:||Three Rooms Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x (d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
The smell is the first thing that hit me. It wasn’t the smell of exhaust or rubber or whatever other material is used on a Los Angeles city bus. It was distinct. A stench we somehow all know but cannot identify how we know it. Like blood or death. The smell was human. Unbathed. Urinated. Downtrodden. Somewhere on that bus, a human person reeked of both living and slowly dying. Not the long-day-of-work smell. Or the just-leaving-the-gym smell. But the stench of days on a street. No running water. Perhaps no water to drink. I had grown accustomed to this smell from walking east on Sunset Boulevard. Past the Walk of Fame on Vine Street. Past the huge billboards and building long advertisements for multi-million-dollar films and too expensive coffee. Past $5,000 a month condos and cafes with pet parking. Past all of that. But not too far past. Just a few blocks east, to the corner of Gower where the same stench that was on that bus fills the air, thick, in the same way a nose is assaulted by more pleasant odors in a city: bacon wrapped hot dogs or new air fresheners in an Uber. This was the smell of a person looking for a home.
It didn’t take me long to find the source. Instinctively, I walked all the way to the back of the bus to sit down. I could hear my childhood teachers scolding me in my head: “We fought too long and too hard for any Black person to choose the back of the bus.” I heard their arguments and I respected their position, but the convenience of not being bumped every time someone had to get off the bus gave me reason to believe that, instead, my ancestors had fought for my choice to sit where I wanted, and today I was choosing the back. I sauntered through the bus, nodding at the bus driver, quietly hoping for an easy, no-human-interaction ride into Hollywood. My ride to work, which was normally thirty to forty minutes, would now take over an hour on public transportation. I would have to creep through neighborhoods and side streets that I would love to live in but could not afford, as gentrification prices of middle-class Los Angeles communities of color rose higher and higher. Of course, without gentrification, I would have hated to live there, and that was a reality I struggled with daily. I would also be crossing through neighborhoods not yet gentrified but well on their way. Ones that I would be happy to be in the back for, to avoid the seemingly unsavory (whatever that meant), the people who could tell I don’t normally take the bus, the people Los Angeles allows you to forget about in your tiny enclave of security.
excerpted from the essay "Stop” (c) Copyright Vanessa Baden Kelly, from Far Away from Close to Home
Table of ContentsTable of Contents:
2. Sybrina, Gina, and Me
3. Bloodline of a Name
4. Unreliable Narrator
5. Miracle of Black Love
7. Texts with Chaz