For black boys [at night] on the internet


by Legacy Russell

Online you *shine*

And when you turn your back the shots shooting like stars don’t scar, O they may dent but they don’t delete

Sure, for the sake of a hate-ful hagiography you’re still hooded here but you can also
have it, that
Power to make plain your face in fistfuls without stain

Skittles and Arizona and, if you wanted, all in Arizona, the arid deserts that otherwise would be blocked from your belonging, being blue that you are :

You are gold and never bruised
By gold you are godly; you can congregate and bebop along avenues of boyhood in bytes

Here you are priceless, not pinched
You are consumed prophet but never profit
[It is confusing]

In constellation your midnight face can be alive like Sketches of Spain, all the poetry the world needs to

That poetry that finds you in flora or on tour but you never grieve

Those measurements, achievements immeasurable yet somehow ecstatic

A ritual quilt of hashtags and bombastic black-fist emojis, a princely pride queering

This imperfect Internet / this deceitful conceit on auto-play gives pause

Like AFK world beyond this all was not made for you but
It is the technology of your negritude that gives attitude

Taking your place in cyberspace
An architecture meeting architect
Surveilling under the cymbals of surveillance

You at the intersections of our beloved-nowhere without cartography, a passage

This Nowhere not ends of worlds
But steel-tipped, burning beginning, and new—


About the Author:

Legacy Russell is a writer and curator. Born and raised in New York City, she is the Associate Curator of Exhibitions at The Studio Museum in Harlem. Recent exhibitions include Projects 110 : Michael Armitage, organized with Thelma Golden and The Studio Museum in Harlem at MoMA (2019); Dozie Kanu : Function (2019), Chloë Bass : Wayfinding (2019), Radical Reading Room (2019) at The Studio Museum in Harlem; and MOOD : Studio Museum Artists in Residence 2018-19 (2019) at MoMA PS1. Russell’s ongoing academic work and research focuses on gender, performance, digital selfdom, internet idolatry, and new media ritual. She is Visual Arts Editor of Apogee Journal, a Contributing Editor for BOMB Magazine online, and a Senior Editor at Berfrois. Russell is the recipient of the Thoma Foundation 2019 Arts Writing Award in Digital Art and a 2020 Rauschenberg Residency Fellow. Her first book, Glitch Feminism, is forthcoming from Verso Books in Fall 2020. | Instagram: @ellerustle | Twitter: @legacyrussell.