Category Archives: Social Issues

The Signs, The Symptoms, The Sinking Ship

The Signs, The Symptoms, The Sinking Ship

sinking_ship_by_q80designer-d5h56d9My aunt had recently commemorated her fiftieth birthday by getting a tattoo, something contrary to her prudish and inhibited nature. It was to symbolize her belated rebellion against what was deemed normal and appropriate. She called me, excited to share the news, and I thought for a moment I was speaking with one of my adolescent students. Her voice was full of vigor and exuberance. She was ready, she said, to really begin living and to release herself from the bondage of fear and restrictions. I was elated to hear this zeal and life in her voice. Our conversations usually consisted of her expressing feelings of abandonment, loneliness, and disgust with herself and me trying to share the beautiful image of her that I saw, that I’ve always seen.  It often felt awkward and uncomfortable to be the cheerleader and encourager for someone who’d had much more experience in living. But, the further I stretched into adulthood and its archetypal matriculations, the more I played this role of niece, confidante, and counselor.

Some time later, after a few missed calls, failed attempts to reach her, and random exchanges of text messages, she called me to tell me she was on the way to Tampa, and wanted to see me and meet her first and only (at the time) great-niece.  It was a sporadic trip with some of our distant cousins to go to an amusement park. She was simply tagging along for the sole purpose of seeing my father, her older brother, and her nieces and nephew. They would only be there for the day apparently and would be driving back to Atlanta very early the following morning.

In this same conversation, she reminded me that she was engaged again (this would be her third marriage), and that she wanted to talk to me about the wedding when we met. These type of offhand plans were common, so I was neither surprised or expectant. Something usually happened to deter the scheduled program. I informed her that I was attending an event, and even invited her to come along, and that I would call her as soon as it was over to meet if she chose not to attend.

She never came or answered my call, and I had missed several of hers during the event.Hall_Grad_Pics 017 I kept calling that evening and well into the morning, but there was never a response. Months went by without an exchange until news of my brother’s graduation from Morehouse became all the buzz. Despite any inconsistencies, she was extremely supportive of my siblings and I, and had traveled near and far to attend most of our major life events, excluding my wedding. I know now that her absence there was an indication of far greater problems than financial. I fully expected her to join us as we watched my brother cross the stage and join the ranks as “Morehouse Man.” We’d connect as though a day hadn’t passed between conversations as usual I thought.

We spoke a few weeks before I traveled to Atlanta and once again, she was rhapsodic. But, as the date neared, she became less and less so and infrequently accessible. Conversations had always been full of highs and lows.  This was a season of lows. She had lost her job, her car had been repossessed, her mother (my Big Mama) had fallen ill and she had no way of visiting her regularly. All she had was this fiancé that I hadn’t met. I thought that by seeing us, she would feel and be better, like every other time.

She didn’t make it to graduation. I constantly looked over my shoulder and called and sent text messages to no avail.  I was worried, but I put the absence in the file of inconsistencies, as did everyone else. We chose to be happily distracted by the occasion. depression

It was about a month later when I got the call. She had been rushed to the hospital and placed on a respirator, where she stayed for about a week, while my father pleaded with God and physicians to prevent the eminent.  The next time I saw her, her face had been colored with cosmetics, which she never wore. After a vicious battle with depression that used alcohol as a weapon, she succumbed. Her fiancé, whom I finally met at her funeral, admitted to supplying her with a full bottle of whatever she requested every single day for months. “I couldn’t tell her ‘no’,” he mumbled, “I loved her.”

i-cant-keep-calm-cause-i-love-my-auntie-I stared idly at her bloated, lifeless body that failed to look like the woman I knew and loved, and more like a mannequin used in crime dramas. I looked for a semblance of the woman, who’d equally been my confidante as I’d been hers, in her face but was only greeted with a placid smile that had been forced and sculpted by a stranger’s hands.

I kept trying to remember the last time I saw her. A question still left unanswered. I can only remember the last time I should have, when I chose a meaningless activity over making my way to her. I didn’t fully understand depression then or when I first experienced the devastation of it myself. I can’t say I fully understand it now. But I do know, it’s not a demon to face alone; even though it tries to convince you otherwise. We are all carriers of light and darkness and can be overtaken by either one at any time. Our obligation is to care for our spirits and each other’s.  We are to bask in that light as often as possible, share it with others whether we think they need it or not, and find the courage to SPEAK when our light becomes dim.

Ticking Clock

calendar-numbers-dateThe end is near, and I’m not ready. April 30th marks my husband’s last day working for the company. We have one month afterwards to leave before the police come knocking. Singapore does not allow foreigners to just live here without a commercial purpose that benefits the country in some way. Basically, it’s count down time, but I’m far from prepared.

This should be the time of deciding and finalizing, planning and organizing. Months before our move to Singapore, we had checklists by the week to complete. We were excited about our transition and became mission oriented and strategic as soon as the move was confirmed. Now, we’re <<I’m>> ambivalent and procrastinating the inevitable. Without a mandated location, the plethora of options has become a weight rather than a relief.

imageIf it were just my husband and I….if all of our family members were well and secure….if “ifs” were worth entertaining, we’d probably move to Ghana, or SouthAfrican-schoolroom Africa, or hop from country to country or state to state three months at a time to avoid frigid winters. We’d buy rental properties in each place and use the passive income to build a network of African-centered schools to eradicate the educational inequities that plague the disenfranchised across the globe, especially in the pockets of urban America.

We’d be frivolous and hire a personal nutritionist, chef, and trainer that traveled with us to ensure our longevity and make love in every country code. You know, just to stay in shape. I’d write novels, short stories, and plays while sunning in the sand and stick WritingBeside-theBeach-960x565my toes in the waters of every beach, while he’d find every hut, shack, or family-owned restaurant that served the cultural delectables of the city that hosted whichever jazz, hip hop or soul concert he was attending at the time. We’d perform in backwoods churches and overflowing theaters three or four times a week just to spread the message of hope, resilience, and Coming-to-Americarevolution. We’d truly take our freedom papers, multiply them, and spread the spirit of freedom all over the world. We would get it in!!! IF…..

But alas, it is not just he and I. It’s he, she, he, and me.  We both have aging parents and in the books of failing health, we have one and a possible. We’re already at the stage of caring for our children and our elders simultaneously. Truth is, we only had two years when we didn’t have both. Heeding to the twin bellows of obligation and responsibility, we’ve decided it’s time to go back to the U.S.; a decision I’m torn about daily…..

 

Freedom Papers

The Beginning of the End 

js-watch-co-reykjavik-via-hodinkeeJanuary marked nine years that my husband has worked for the same company.  I think he got a watch or something. Nine is his favorite number; his number of completion. He called it a sign, a confirmation.

For the past few years, he’s contemplated walking away from Corporate America to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors. He’s started companies, (www.madalihair.com), invested, researched franchising. He even quit his job months after our first child was born citing his discontent with the monotony and lack of growth; a faithful <<insert terrifying>> move that proved to be rewarding.  The company brought him back in a global role thirty days later, which eventually led us to our wonderful life here in Singapore.

Luck of the Irish 

clifden-castle-irelandLike clockwork, when our son was born last October, he once again expressed the same discontent and desire to leave. Something about having another mouth to feed and  greater expenses ironically makes him want to quit his job. This time, the company offered him a new, but vague position in Europe.  Once our stint in Singapore is over in early summer, we could pack up and move to Ireland so that he could start an undefined role.

Let’s just say that doesn’t sit well with either of us. It isn’t the prospect of moving from the never-ending tropical weather of SE Asia to the bleak and wintry days of Dublin. (Well, it’s partly that for this Southern girl.) It isn’t just that we’d be leaving the firstDublin Marked on Map community we’ve felt a part of since we’ve been married, or the idea of not having anyone to help us with our daily tasks. Though, those are huge factors. But, it’s more the idea of being asked to blindly trust the company to create a position that will be equally challenging and fulfilling for a man whose ambition has always been greater than any fear or even logic at times.

P.S., I’m Out! 

It’s hard to work for someone else when you have your own dreams and you’re not afraid to pursue them.  Both of us have felt this way, but his desire to learn alfunny_worlds_greatest_wife_gifts_sticker-rc7f4cc7d02fc4f599597947f9aa38a0c_v9waf_8byvr_324l he could from his corporate experience and to be in a stable position to provide for his family has kept the man I love punching the proverbial clock for nearly a decade. Through every transition, from Rochester, to Clearwater, to Tampa, to Singapore, I’ve encouraged his commitment and made some sacrifices. Yet, I couldn’t hold my “World’s Greatest Wife” Award and watch him agree to take on a role they couldn’t even define for him in a country we’ve only seen in movies.

Though the lush green rolling hills of Ireland made me weep for romance in P.S., I Love You, they aren’t enough to uproot our family knowing that he’ll be discontent with the company as soon as we land. The plan to work towards a way out was implemented last quarter. He tried to be mediocre, a feat he couldn’t master. Dean Mobley just didn’t train us that way. He tried to hint at the idea of saving the company money by leaving and they dismissed everyone else on his team.  The lone ranger was offered new projects and positions instead of means to leave. The company was just not speaking exit strategy… at first.

“The bird has left the nest!” The text was as cryptic as it was unexpected. He sent the message while at dinner with his regional president. With a baby nursing on one side and a toddler pulling on the other, I had no idea what he meant…at first.

As of the end of Spring, my husband will no longer work for the company!  For the first time since he graduated, he is free to completely chart his own course and decide whether he’ll answer to anyone other than himself (and me). We have had the desire to just go anywhere we want in this world and see what happens. And, now we have the freedom to do it. spin-the-globe-wherever-it-lands-thats-where-well-go 

Something’s Gotta Give

This is why….

“We know this place…,”
This scene is all too familiar;
All too freshly sketched on the canvas of our memory.
We can no longer boast of progression
When we’ve only suffered from the repression of our history,
the continual oppression of our people,
and witness the protection of our enemies.
Amerikkka,
the land of the free and the home of the slave….

For the past few months, I’ve been feeling equally homesick and sick of home with all of the horrendous acts of terrorism against people who reflect me. It makes me feel homeless more than anything. Watching the reports of the events unfolding in Ferguson, New York, Los Angeles and all over the U.S. from abroad makes me feel like I escaped a war zone, but it also beckons me to go back and report for duty.

These images of unarmed civilians being executed in the streets by people who’ve used authority to seek complete control and exercise their expression of hatred solidify my thoughts about what Black America’s next step should be. Make no mistake, there are multiple Americas in our “United States.”  We can no longer afford to pretend that we live in a peaceful, post-racial and fully integrated society in America. We really never could afford the thought. It has cost us greatly.

Tragically, the tremendous efforts and results of the Civil Rights Movement were thought of as a completion of the task to secure our inalienable human rights in American society, instead of as the launching pad to keep pursuing them as they were. Now, most of us uneducated about the plight and goals of our predecessors, look at some of their tactics and recycle them without aim. We march now without a collective and concrete purpose other than unity. We hold rallies and sit-ins without understanding its intended impact and with no strategy to implement once the sit-in is complete. And, those of us with the greatest assets still pursue “The American Dream,” as though we were ever intended to be a part of that script.  

We so desperately want the diverse, peaceful, harmonious democracy America advertises, but we have not completed our healing process and we have yet to fully reconnect within our own community first. We also fail to see that the America we idealize does not exist. We talk about segregation like it’s a malediction and we mistakenly believe that the America we’re seeing is the one of which our forefathers dreamed. This was not the intended result of integration.  And, Martin Luther King, Jr. had an ominous feeling about that.  

“We’ve fought long for integration. It looks like we’re gonna get it. I think we’ll get the laws. But I’m afraid that I’ve come upon something that I don’t know quite what to do with. I’m afraid that we’re integrating into a burning house.”

The primary thing integration did was integrate black people out of power and extract the most educated and affluent of us from those with less means and opportunities. It resulted in the separation and division of those of us with the most in terms of education, resources, & affluence from those of us with the least. It taught the two divided groups to detach themselves from the other and be ashamed of that which has been separated. It taught us to assimilate and embrace majority culture so much so that we despise and forget our own. It allowed us to become walking targets and victims of systemic oppression and racist policies. 

Until we pour back into our people by building and supporting black businesses, schools, and communities that uplift us, then we will see this cycle again and again. Anybody can support this mission, but we can let no one thwart it. We’ve had too many casualites in a war we haven’t been strategically fighting. 

We just want the freedom to live in viable and healthy environments and conditions for our families. We want our own {land, resources, authority figures, etc.}  in our own communities because we can’t even knock on a “neighbor’s” door when we need assistance without being murdered (Jonathan Ferrell, Renisha McBride.) We have never experienced “separate but equal,” so we fought for desegregation unaware of the fact that it would only extract us from power and further diminish our humanity in our own eyes. Now, we fear ourselves. We blame ourselves for our own lynchings because we’ve been taught we deserve it. We believe it because we hate ourselves; a direct lesson that is taught with little subtlety in the curriculum of American education. This self-loathing leads to our annihilation.

When we teach our children about sex, we can tell them with certainty that abstinence is a 100% guarantee that you will not contract an STD or get pregnant prematurely. We can teach them how to avoid the pitfalls of drug addiction completely by avoiding drug use altogether.  We can teach them to refuse the candy and advances of strangers and to look both ways before crossing the street.  We can offer them advice to protect them in most circumstances.  But, there is nothing we can say to our children that will offer the same guarantee that they will come back home after an interaction with the police or anyone who places themselves in such authority. Nothing.

We were given this harsh lesson as a nation publicly with the heinous torture and murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till and his murderers’ unjust acquittal.  The lesson has repeated itself over and over again in recent years with lifeless black bodies standing trial for their own murders while their killers walk free.  If you are black in America, your very existence poses a threat, incites violence, and is used to justify another person’s “self-defense” claim against the criminality that is your skin.

Black people, males especially, have no right to just be themselves. They are not afforded the right of “freedom of expression,” and certainly have no claim to
stand their ground as self-defense.  Where was Trayvon Martin’s right to defend himself against a stalking over-zealous, self-appointed neighborhood watchman?  Where was Michael Brown’s right to humanity when he was gunned down unarmed in the streets and left to rot for hours?  Where was Aiyana Jones’ right to be safe from police in her own home? Where are the rights of all the victims to face their accusers when they are  tried in the court of public opinion posthumously for being the cause of their own murder?

We cannot be dormant and await a rescue. The time for action, true mobilizing, is now. Join us in The Back to Black List Movement!

#TheBacktoBlackList #BackToBlackList #BlackList #BacktoBlack

 

On Raising Our Children

For my friend and brother 

We don’t raise our children
to mourn the loss of them.
We don’t love them wholly                                                                                                               to watch the life vacate from their bodies                                                                                     and ascend beyond our reach.

We don’t raise them                                                                                                                             to lower them into the cold cavities of the earth                                                                           and see them no more.                                                                                                                     We don’t hold them at our breast                                                                                                  or carry the breadth of their bodies on our chest                                                                           to be robbed of their embrace.

We watch them age,
transform,

question,

fall,

and rise,

so that we may experience                                                                                                               the fullness of their maturation                                                                                                       and witness the formation of their youthful imaginations.

We raise our children to love                                                                                                       and be loved;                                                                                                                                         to be reflections of Love;                                                                                                               the Love that is, was, and ever will be.

We, the village that cradles them,                                                                                               the crowns that bow and summon                                                                                            the guiding beam of our God and forefathers,                                                                        We raise our children so that they may have life                                                                      in all of its fundamental rights and concessions,                                                                  that they may create something better with it than did we.

We raise them

to bury us.

The reverse is cause for lamentation.

Why We Must Boycott Black Friday

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Why we must boycott Black Friday:

1. The Montgomery Bus Boycott lasted for 381 days. It started with one.
2. It did NOT include all black people. It worked anyway.
3. It did NOT include only black people. It worked anyway.
4. The sacrifice of avoiding the only means of transportation many had, of traveling several miles to segregated areas to work on foot, of taking the risk of actually losing your job or your life because of your revolutionary stance was far greater than not buying some stuff.
5. The economic impact was tremendous even though it was only concentrated on one main area: transportation.
6. Rosa Parks was not the first or last black person to refuse to comply with the bigoted law to give up her seat to a white person on the bus. She was not perfect. She was still the face of the movement and her name is echoed decades later when it’s referenced. She became a symbol, not of perfection, but of the necessity for action. Sean, Amadou, Trayvon, Jordan, Renisha, Ezell, Jonathan, Rekia, Aiyana, Tamir….Mike Brown. Pick one. Pick them all. We’ve got several. No need to add more to the list.
7. Those who cannot afford to shop for luxury items or things other than necessities when items are not on sale, need something other than the flat screen that was marked down just for today. They need those of us who are more financially literate to educate and empower them. Teach a man to fish and all that.
8. Sacrifice is not easy. It is a necessity. New TVs, luxury handbags, and items for which we pay exorbitant amounts of money so that we can advertise for some European designer are not.
9. Necessities are food, clothing (not necessarily designer label and certainly not in excess), shelter, and FREEDOM. Most of us have the former three. None of us have the latter.
10.  There is no political impact without economic power. 635525111308302359-black-friday2
11. There is no desire for morality without economic power.
12. There is no freedom without economic power.
13. There is no generational prosperity without economic power.
14. There is no catalyst for change without economic power.
15. We have no economic power.

We’re in a very powerful position right now. We’ve already lost a great deal. We have many casualties in this war, and make no mistake, black people in America are at war with the systemic oppression that runs the country.  But, we are not defeated and we are hungry for real, tangible change. Now is the time to implement strategy.  It starts with one day. We must take one day away from pouring our income into the pockets of those who do not value black lives. This one day will restore the hope that it’s possible to galvanize for a common cause. It will ignite a spirit of activism in many and inspire others to join the effort. We need the one day to spark the emotive response necessary to begin the more laborious and lengthy commitment required to enact change.

orig-21127261After this one day, (and this is MOST important), let’s agree that beginning December 5, 2014, we will refrain from shopping for anything other than necessities (see number 9) unless it’s from a black-owned business. Let’s agree that those of us who’ve been sitting on an entrepreneurial dream will pursue it, and the rest of us will support it with our financial investment or sweat equity. Let’s agree that presents will become more meaningful and less materialistic; that building up the esteem and confidence of our children will supersede sales; that ensuring the safety of those we love will overcome our desire to spend. Let’s agree on what we want to yield from this effort. These are some things I desire. Please help me amend or add to the list.

1. We desire an marked increase in black-owned banks, and therefore business loans and businesses.

2. We desire a complete demilitarization of the police force, especially in neighborhoods that are  predominantly black.

3. We require that every police officer live within the area they police. You must know us in order to value us.

4. We require cultural sensitivity training to be a continuous educational requirement for every police officer and politician. The training should be designed and administered by a panel consisting of a majority of people of color.

5. We require every police officer to wear a camera on their person and to be fined or fired in the event of tampering or neglecting to wear it.

6. We require any person that shoots and kills an unarmed person to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law regardless of stature, and that the jury reflects the victim as well as the defendant.

7. We require that any person that stalks, accosts, or pursues another person be identified as the aggressor and the one being pursued as the victim with the right to self-defense regardless of professional position of either party.

8. We require that every officer of the law be trained in shooting to wound rather than kill.

9. We require a repeal of Stand Your Ground and any law that resembles it.

10. We require every company that desires our financial support to publicly support our initiatives.

The-freedom-to-do-what-we-want

hbdywi-2

Everybody’s a Genius

GENIOUS-POSTERIt’s important to know your child and to be their advocate. I always want to be receptive to any feedback and criticism I get about my children, but I also want to praise their positive attributes and encourage who they naturally are. This is vital to their holistic development.

So, I got the kibibi’s progress report from her part-time local school yesterday. According to the assessments, she did well in all areas EXCEPT “Music & Movement,” where it was determined that she doesn’t “respond to rhythm,” “participate in music and movement,” “enjoy singing/dancing,” “understand musical concepts,” or “keep a steady beat.”

Now, if you know my child at all, you know she LOVES music and dancing. At first, I thought that maybe she’s not being herself at school. This happens. Then, I remembered she comes home singing all the songs from school daily. And, the posted video where she executed the choreography for the school’s performance with such exuberance certainly displays a response to rhythm and participation in music and movement. Her behavior must be consistent, so that’s not it. (Guess which one is mine.)

In the states, I witnessed many occasions when a student’s cultural differences caused criticism and punitive consequences. This made me reflect on why I loved Sakkara Youth Institute so much and why I started ISIS, (my own school) for her in the first place. I remembered that our children are often mislabeled, misunderstood, misplaced, misdiagnosed, or just missed in the classroom altogether. This is why we need our own schools and educators who are culturally sensitive and aware.

Yet, we are in a foreign land now. And, I have another genius that needs my full-time attention for a while, so we have to operate within the scope. Teacher conferences will be essential. Students aren’t the only ones that need to be educated. Good thing I have a passion for education. Class is in session.

http://www.isisgenius.com

It’s All in a Name

maxresdefaultThe first time I saw a naming ceremony in person was in Tallahassee.  A young couple presented their first born son to a community of elders, peers, and children and charged us to be his collective guiding force, protector, and reminder of his purpose by helping him uphold the weight of his name’s meaning. The experience had a profound affect on me as a young educator unfolding into the woman I was meant to become. It solidified my belief that a person’s name can be empowering and prophetic, as my name had been.

Years later,before we had any children, my husband and I decided that I would name any that we had because he chose our family’s last name; it’s an African name that defines the mission of our family. We agreed that our children would all have names reflective of their heritage and lineage and that defined their purpose and legacy.  We also agreed that they too would be presented to our community in a naming ceremony, though he had never seen one. I knew, long before either was conceived, that we would have a daughter and a son and their names came to me very clearly after much thought and consideration.

Because my husband could not wait the typical month to reveal the name, our daughter’s naming ceremony was just days after her birth. In her nursery encircled by love, we introduced our newborn, Aminata Louise, to her maternal grandparents, aunt, uncle, cousin, and Godmother. We informed them that she was named after Queen Aminata of northern Nigeria and that we would call her Amina, both of which mean honest, faithful, & trustworthy.  Her middle name, though not of African origin, is to honor each her paternal great-grandmother, and maternal aunt and great-great-grandmother. Its German and French roots mean “renowned warrior.”  We remind her through the echoing of her name that she is of regal lineage because of her ancestors; that she must exhibit integrity and honor in all she does and that she must be courageous and brilliant.

Our son, a month old already, still has me in awe of having a son at all. The thoughts of mothering a son as opposed to a daughter are completely different. I was equally excited about both, but I was much more concerned this time around than I was with my little girl. I know girls. Connecting with them is innate for me.  Boys offer me a challenge, and I feel less equipped to guide them. I knew his name needed to embody strength and offer him encouragement if ever I couldn’t.  I knew he needed to be reminded of his greatness because the world would tell him otherwise.

Ceremony ProgramWe presented Amiri Jasir James to our beautiful village in Singapore just days after his prolonged birth. We were so fortunate to have my parents present along with our new extended family here. Everyone stood in a circle as we explained that the name “Amiri” honors the late renowned poet and prophet Amiri Baraka, who just transitioned months earlier. It means “Prince” or “Leader” in Arabic; “the height of trees” in Hebrew, and “the East Wind” in Maori. All of which are fitting because he too must know he is regal, must strive to reach higher heights, and know that he was born in a very foreign land by no accident. His first middle name means “bold, courageous, honest and inventive” & the second is the name of his paternal great-grandfather, great-uncle, and a host of other men in our family.

During the ceremony, we explained and demonstrated libation before taking a parental pledge. The present Godparent and Community also took a pledge to offer guidance, counsel, support, and love. My husband read a rousing tribute to our son, echoing the lessons he has been charged to teach him. Amiri was then anointed with oils and milk to symbolize God’s protection and good fortune. Lastly, the community welcomed him into this world and we, as his parents, rededicated him to God.  My father closed us in prayer as we sang “Thank You Lord” together and tears scrolled down my face as I reflected on the auspiciousness of the moment. The event was celebrated with soulful dishes from each household as we feasted and rejoiced for our new addition.

Both of my children will know how their names came to be what they are; why they must uphold their meanings, and the wealth of love that is their birthright as it was displayed in their naming ceremonies.  I am so fortunate to have seen a glimpse into what we as Africans in America have lost when I witnessed my first naming ceremony in Tallahassee, and to be able to recreate the experience with our own community here in Asia.

 

Notes For a Speech

African blues
does not know me. Their steps, in sands
of their own
land. A country
in black & white, newspapers
blown down pavements
of the world. Does
not feel
what I am.

Strength

in the dream, an oblique
suckling of nerve, the wind
throws up sand, eyes
are something locked in
hate, of hate, of hate, to
walk abroad, they conduct
their deaths apart
from my own. Those
heads, I call
my “people.”

(And who are they. People. To concern

myself, ugly man. Who
you, to concern
the white flat stomachs
of maidens, inside houses
dying. Black. Peeled moon
light on my fingers
move under
her clothes. Where
is her husband. Black
words throw up sand
to eyes, fingers of
their private dead. Whose
soul, eyes, in sand. My color
is not theirs. Lighter, white man
talk. They shy away. My own
dead souls, my, so called
people. Africa
is a foreign place. You are
as any other sad man here
american.

-Amiri Baraka

#JustLetMeLive

For every dream unrealized

every goal unachieved,

all the legacies lost,

I  grieve.

 

For every celebration thwarted,

every promise broken & family torn,

every

body left strewn and rotting,

I mourn.

 

For every heartbroken mother,

father, sister, brother;

For every void that can’t be filled,

For every hope that,

along with you,

was killed,

I weep.

 

I keep

thoughts of you

stamped in my mind,

cold-,

blood-,

red-,

brown sketches

like henna,

fading over time,

rebranded with new outlines

of bodies.

Your smiles

framed with my daughter’s laughter.

Your faces

looming over the vision I have of my son.

 

If I can’t protect them,

how will I prepare them?

We do not raise our children

for execution,

but they are targeted like prey.

#hashtags

have become tombstones

as they

RIP your bodies apart

and leave your lifeless limbs to rot,

while we mirror the actions

or sleep, deeply sleep.

America’s history on repeat

in every way.

So, I stay woke….

“We know this place…”

-Talitha Anyabwelé

Up In Arms

Talitha
Feeling Full of Life

I stay woke
Like for real
It’s 3am
And I can’t sleep
Because I feel my son
Kicking and swirling
Flipping and shifting
Readying himself for this world
And, fear has me wondering
If it’d be easier for him
If he was a girl.
If he wasn’t seen
As criminal before human
As violent,
As a threat,
As a suspect,
As a target
In Wal-mart,
As a nuisance
On the BART,
As a thug
In his ‘hood-ie,
As an animal
To choke,
As a disturbance
To silence,
As a reason
To provoke
His own murder,
As a weapon
To disarm
when his arms are up
In surrender.
I wonder,
While he’s cradled in my womb,
Unseen and unheard,
As it will be until he makes his presence known
By birth and simply living,
If it’s the safest place for him.

#blackgirlspeaks #JohnCrawford #TrayvonMartin #OscarGrant #EricGarner #JordanDavis #MikeBrown