The Heart of Black Disneyland

Issue 111, Winter 2020

Illustration by Three Ring Studio

There is a place in Southwest Atlanta, Georgia, called Black Disneyland. You can only go there one week a year; some call it Spelhouse homecoming. It is the momentous return of more than two hundred thousand alumni of Spelman and Morehouse Colleges to a sacred corner of Atlanta in celebration. Homecoming is a space and time that bends to the world around it. Priorities are shifted and ego is encouraged. Black modern glamour is the only currency in this Emerald City replica that comes to life during the busiest day of homecoming, known as tailgate. 

There is a sea of black, all shiny, all robust, and all smiling at you because you belong here. For a full twenty-four hours you are no longer yourself. On this day of our Lord, you are the ego-self, walking the tightrope between insecurity and narcissistic leisure. 

There is brown liquor everywhere and nothing can go wrong today. It is 3 p.m. on a sunny and breezy Saturday in late October and you are drunk with your friends, cackling about an ex that you haven’t seen since graduation. You make the jokes and ignore the you that needs this moment, needs this taste of grandiose otherness here, back home. This is gluttony on high. Everything is about perception and this weekend you are going to make a mark. This weekend you get to invent yourself anew or relive the glory days of college in all of its naive youthful wonder.

Every old friend means a scream of high-pitched greetings for old times’ sake, hugs that restore, and lots of dancing to the type of black joy that can only happen here. You are somewhere between West End Ave. and Lee St. swirling in the delicious pleasure of today. You greet all the friends, drink ravenously with people who kept you alive, and swallow the bits of your beloved HBCU that almost took you whole.

Clarissa Brooks

Clarissa Brooks is a writer, journalist, and community organizer based in Atlanta, Georgia. She orients her cultural work in black queer feminism with a focus on the abolition of prisons, policing, and surveillance. She is trying her best and writing about it along the way.