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For Rene. Baby sis

To mark the launch of her COLLUSION drop, Rene asked friend Kai-Isaiah Jamal to model the collection, photographed by mutual friend Bernice Mulenga.

Kai-Isaiah Jamal is a talented poet and writer, who’s work centers around building dialogue on the often ‘unspoken’, a shared theme with the artwork of Rene. Here Kai pens a poem ‘For Rene, Baby sis' which intertwines themes from both Kai’s and Rene’s backgrounds to celebrate their independent journeys of rebirth.

'For Rene. Baby sis'

and her fist is small,
but the future on her palms is wider than Saturn’s belt.
We all felt,
Queer and black and small once.
Small enough to wipe off of tongues, pull from ears-
So cheers to surviving,
Thriving in the stomach of unrest,
Where we all have wept into small black queer hands.
Knowing nothing of what they will create.
The spaces they will take and fill with everything any space should be filled with.
Rene means reborn in French.
How fitting.
For aren’t we all reborn?
Aren’t we all giving birth to ourselves again with shaved heads, hands curled into fists and . enough of a shout to be heard.
Isn’t that what our fight is?
To feel like you are constantly on the wrong side.
The wrong side of the store.
The wrong side of the hatred.
The wrong side of the bus.
The wrong side of the gay club.
The wrong side of white.
The wrong side of privilege.
But isn’t our fight showing that this side is not wrong. It never has been.
That we are not an apology letter.
For taking up this space.
That we are not an apology letter.
For taking up the place that we should have been offered.
How can you expect us to stop taking what is already ours.
How can you ask us to not reclaim everything that belongs to us.
I watched this tiny black fist become ten feet tall.
I watched it become a brand. I watched it become the only art that really mattered.
I watched it become a star.
I watched it become anything but weak.
This week.
I stopped being a queer trans black boy awaiting oppression for a second and I became this poem.
So I was heard.
I stopped being a fist in a pocket and became a fist in the air.
I stopped being tragedy and I became salvation.
I stopped being patient and instead was insistent.
All because I was reborn.
We all were.
A blaze that will burn holes in everything they said we would never be.
Réne means to be reborn.
To be reborn is like taking a fist and opening and softening your fingers.
To show them, you could.
But you won’t.
Because this all belong to you.
Baby.

Kai-Isaiah Jamal is a poet and writer.

Words by Kai-Isaiah Jamal Shot by Bernice Mulenga