I cry when I watch superhero films. Not because of the major fight scenes or the heroics or anything obvious. Instead, I cry because of where the superhero came from, the origin story. An ordinary kid from Queens becomes a community’s salvation. A weak yet ambitious dude from Brooklyn turns into one of the strongest avengers to save the world. Me? A diseased girl from The Bronx who transforms into a poet whose words mean something to someone. That is my story.
A genetic mutation is the permanent adjustment of the DNA sequence, such that the sequence differs from what is found in most people.
On September 10, 1963, The X-Men are introduced. A league of super people bound by their genetic difference, a band of mutants.
On December 18, 2013, my body introduces a permanent adjustment such that the sequence now differs from what my organs have known. My kidneys, two blushed mirrors in a dark room, each barely alive with chronic illness.
Storm makes her first appearance in 1975 on the fictional living island of Krakoa. She is a woman whose wrath can call down thunder and move clouds by her reckoning.
My disease makes its first appearance in Los Angeles. I am a woman whose stress can call lupus into her blood and move cells into a diagnosis.
Superpower hath no fury like a body attacking itself, like a hospital you cannot leave for thirty days, like your name needed for a kidney transplant. I remember where I was—the fit of the hospital gown. I remember the taste of death sour in my mouth and the chemotherapy flushed into my veins.
Wolverine makes his first appearance in 1974. He is a man who can unleash blades from his knuckles. A man who can regenerate, who can heal himself. His trademark claws and humble growl say, “Try me. I dare you.”
I am a woman who can unleash sickness from her gut, the one without a cure and still a bounty of love, still a victory worth releasing. My heart saying, “Try me. I will fight to stay alive.” I am a mutant, a Black girl whose joints are a museum, whose hair sometimes falls out, but who can still heal herself. I can show up today in character and force a smile from all my heartbreak. I can will a high-risk pregnancy from this worn vessel despite a doctor’s tale, despite how rare it is, despite walking under the same sun I am allergic to.
Jean Grey makes her first appearance in 1963. She is a woman born with the ability to read minds and move objects with her thoughts. In her storyline, Jean later becomes Phoenix, an omega-level mutant with god-like magic and a cosmos all her own, able to control life itself.
Before I was diagnosed, I was born with the ability to run in the opposite direction of everything I was worthy of. In my storyline, I later hold my name in a place where my love does not rot. The creek of stretch marks flood up my thighs, the inflammation in my knees, the fear that I may not be able to carry children… The disease I cannot rid, still god-like magic, able to control my life itself.
I see my disability as super-ability. I think of my lupus as Ironman’s heart, as Thor’s hammer. As Black Panther’s vibranium. Thank goodness for that story—the one where I am not sick but superhuman.
Friends, what is your superpower?Leave a Comment