In SUNLIGHT Black Boys Get Bruised

Murleve Roberts, Flash Fiction

We hidin’. It’s high afternoon but we in the dark ‘cuz we pushed our luck. I pushed our luck. I always push, but this time we got caught. Like a mortal in one of them Greek tragedies before they drag ‘em down to punishment for hubris or narcissism or some shit just cuz they ain’t a god.

But the thing is, we just like gods. That’s what makes ‘em all so jealous – that we gon’ ascend one day, nude and gorgeous and powerful. And I mean forreal. When I tell you ‘bout my man, when I tell you we together, it’s gospel. It’s ordained. My man’s gonna dethrone every Olympian, crack that lightning bolt like them white man whips, and Imma swing ‘round on that chariot, that Ghana gold type chariot called The Sun, and Imma look black as hell cuz we look black as hell in sunlight. Melanin rich, cheekbones leavin’ nicks, broad-ass noses kinda blackness.

But right now, we black as Tartarus. Cuz we hidin’, and the Titans are beatin’ at the door. They wanna bruise him, and it’s my fault for flauntin’ in the sun, where we mortal and they jealous. Where you can see popped vein red and broken vein blue.

Even on black skin, if you push hard enough.


In Sunlight Black Boys Get Bruised is inspired by the film Moonlight (2016); I blended aspects from two of the film’s acts: a scene from I. Little and the relationship in II. Chiron. The title of the film’s source material, In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, represents, to me, the limitlessness of Black people despite the constraints and construct of race; we are given a label but in reality and imagination we are more and we are different. The title and subject of my piece is the other side of the coin, in sunlight and outside of the dreamscape: the real lack of freedom for the overwhelming majority, if not entirety, of Black men and boys, especially queer ones.(There are also some lazy, indiscriminate allusions to Greek mythology, the least obvious/directly-stated and kind of most important one being Hyacinth and Apollo.)