(Photo by Made you Look Photo, Atlanta)
The traditional second wedding anniversary gift is cotton.
For someone black, that may be a bit of a difficult gift to give
Something that black bodies toiled, sweated over, were beaten and bloodied over ... sold and auctioned and ripped from families over... financed universities..... all in the name of King Cotton. Black hands that picked in sweltering heat. Not measured for their humanity but by the pound. All while we wore burlap sacks and rags. This same cotton, sent up North to be made into pretty things for Missy and Massa.... to celebrate their weddings. And we couldn't celebrate ours.
Today cotton is grown here and elsewhere... sent to China, Bangladesh and etc to be made into all kinds of things. Even traditional wedding gifts. 2000 thread count sheets of Egyptian cotton. Cotton handkerchiefs that wipe tears.
Often times tied in a noose around our necks as we hang as strange fruit.
So today, I give cotton to my husband. In honor of us. In honor of the ancestors whose marriages and unions paved the way for us who weren't given the common decency to wed legally. They say "cotton is the fabric of our lives". That is an understatement for someone black. Cotton is in our DNA. Under our nails. Embedded between our dermis and epidermis. Entwined in our naps and kinks. Flowing in our blood are the buds that pricked tiny hands as young as 5 in the fields.
White. Fluffy. Soft. Angry. Pain-Staking, payment-free Work. Much like Marriage.
2 Years. On our anniversary.
Symbolically celebrated with cotton.
A sobering reminder