Cover Photo: Jordi Bernabeu Farrús/flickr
Jordi Bernabeu Farrús/flickr

White Mirror in Baltimore County

No one in my family knew Freddie Gray. Yet each of us drew a composite sketch of the dead man.

Twice that year I’d been on a psych ward. In Connecticut, glassy-eyed patients circumambulated the nurses’ station in bathrobes and disposable slippers doing the paper shuffle, waiting for their meds. In Minnesota a woman shit on the floor.

My parents are a missing slide. I know they were there but I can’t see their faces.

Cutting was a way of exhibiting my sadness externally. The blood’s vibrant hue let me know I was alive despite feeling dead inside.

When I was little, my friend and I would take the salt container with the picture of the girl holding an umbrella down from her mother’s pantry shelf and sprinkle its contents onto the slugs that appeared on her patio after the rain. Watch them shrivel and die, water drained from their bodies.

You make this all go away . . .

Saturday Night Live

The Beast Side: Living and Dying While Black in America

On the Run.

Black Death Spectacle.

New York Times

On the Run

Jennilie Brewster’s paintings and installations have been shown in museums and galleries around the country. Her fellowships include the Ucross Foundation, the Headlands Center for the Arts, and the Vermont Studio Center’s Swann Fellowship for a writer who’s also a painter. As director of OPEN DOORS, she works with hospital residents to improve their lives and inspire action for safer, more just communities. She is writing a book about landscape and trauma. You can visit her at