Stop Looking

oncar

Because we women too often look to everything and everyone else but ourselves…to find and define ourselves


Stop looking for her

In between the lines and

Squeezed behind the confines of

The words of others

She feels no need to hide her unfinished pages

Her book is still in progress and

Writing is a process so

She takes her sweet time

Stop looking for her

In a man’s lustful gaze

In his validation, in his temptation and

His inclination toward what’s on her outside

He can go sit down somewhere because trust

She’ll be just fine

And if chivalry don’t pull out her chair before he pulls out his or if

Chivalry don’t give her no goodnight kiss she’ll

Pull out her own chair and sit where she wants to sit

Chivalry died but she still sleeps at night and

Before she closes her weary eyes

God always tells her He loves her anyway

Stop looking for her

In her accolades or in her titles or

In her degrees

When the dust settles underground and

When she is no longer around, what does a piece of paper in a pretty frame really even mean?

In life, all that forms above ground will eventually cease

Only to return through the trees and

Through the breeze and the dirt but

How she gonna enjoy her stay if she’s too high on hierarchy to come back down to earth?

Stop looking for her

In other places other than

Where you should have looked already

Just because you think you’re not ready for

Who you may find

Dig deeper

Some extra help

Something like a search and rescue mission

but this one’s for your damn self

An Amber Alert, a missing person’s case

You better do something different before it’s too late

On Me

unnamed

They say they like

what I wear and

The lips on my lipstick

And the way my hair

wears my head but

It wears on me

The moment my words leave my lips and

I put my foot down and my hands on my hips

It’s too confusing.

And it’s too hard

Be quiet

Be cute

Little black girl

Play

Your

Part

It wears on me

Like when I wear my super skinny jeans

And they say to me

they look so good on you

I say thanks, it’s because I’m running

Running every other day of the week

I’m running

Because it wears on me

Mine

mine-image
Because I’m here — and there’s nothing they can do about it.
for a second
I thought I wasn’t supposed to be
here
second guessing never gave anybody the right answer anyway
but on second thought
like a bulldozer
you wore down and
you tore down
the temple
my temple
I’ve spent my whole entire life building
and rebuilding and rebuilding
brick
by brick
by brick
my life’s work
and all this time I thought my time was well spent
until you looked me in the eye
from the other side of the table
while you sat in your seat and
I sat in mine
I didn’t know eyes could talk
until that day
the day I got a seat
at the table
like a fable
you looked at me like
a lie like
a joke like
a mess
well I laughed too see I laughed at
you
because I was too damn big for your small little mind to process
progress
you spoke no words
but your message couldn’t have been any more clear
while your spirit was screaming
I wasn’t supposed to be here
I wasn’t supposed to be
but I’m still
here
while you sit in your seat and I sit in
Mine.

Livin’

livin PIC EDIT
He does whatever he wants and carelessly spreads his seeds
Tumbleweed the way he rolls around bed to bed, town to town as he please
But he don’t care, kids here kids there kids everywhere, animalistic breeding is in season
He thinks he’s on TOP, he ain’t gonna ever stop…and think to think he has no reason

Look at him, he’s the man, he got it goin on, he’s that guy with all those women runnin after him…
Givin no real value to the lives he’s bringing in…this world…and he really thinks he livin’

She is content when she gets her ends from the men
The different baby daddies that fathered her different children and
even though she’s left building up the kids’ home all alone
She picks up that phone no matter where the men roam, for the money for the school clothes…for the Air Jordans…for the Nike Foams


Her kids get to floss, she thinks she’s a boss…not giving a damn about the costs of a family spent from being bought
The men are forgiven for the wrongs done on her kids…and as long as she’s spendin’ with the little they givin’…she livin’

He sees his momma struggle and fight to keep the ship tight
but he thinks she’s supposed to do it, ain’t nothin to it, she’ll be alright
She just has herself cuz she don’t need no help
When WIC is their health and food stamps are their wealth

When the tumbleweed’s seed grows a tumbleweed tree
The cycle continues, what a sight it is to see
Oh the plight it is to be the seed falling down beneath
You can’t help but ask yourself…are you livin’ when you breathe?

When Oppression Roars like Cecil the Lion

When Oppression Roars like Cecil the Lion

cecil lion

Last week, I heard about the tragic death of Cecil, a lion living in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park. He was lured out of his habitat, shot with a bow and arrow, then shot with a gun, then skinned and decapitated.

There is no doubt that this was an unwarranted slaying of an innocent animal. And quite naturally, people are up in arms about it, with much energy being directed toward animal rights and the prosecution of Cecil’s murderer, dentist Walter Palmer. Protests and demonstrations are happening all over the country and all over the world in response to the slaying of this animal.

Too bad humanity can’t empathize with people – brothers and sisters of color dying everyday at exponential rates at the hands of injustice – just as much as they can with the animals that roar and purr and scoot about in the world’s zoos.

You may be thinking – Cecil was lured out of his home, shot and left to die a slow death and mutilated, of course the oppression people of color face doesn’t evoke the same amount of concern and outrage.

But I ask you then, do people of color not experience the same grim fate…barely noticed…each and every day?

Lured

It always breaks my heart to hear of missing children. What’s even harder to accept than crimes against children is how some cases get more exposure than others. About 32 percent of the US population is of color – but only 14 percent of  television station staff members across the nation are non-white. This results in a lack of reporting of missing child cases involving children of color because journalists have the “ tendency to consciously or unconsciously cover communities that remind them of their own,” according to the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. This phenomenon is so pervasive and well-known, an additional missing child alert has been created in place of the widely known “Amber Alert.”  The “Rilya Alert” is only for children of color under age 17 who have been reported to the law as missing. (Journalism Center for Children and Families)

Children of color are lured out of their homes and away from their families each and every day; however, only a fraction of these cases show up on our TV screens, our cell phone news apps and our social media timelines. Maybe if our children were animals, they’d have a greater chance of being perceived as human.

 

Left to die

In a plethora of ways, people of color are left to die – in their own country, in their own homes. I know that people of color walk upright, on two legs instead of four and aren’t in zoos (anymore – know your history)…but nonetheless, keep reading —  maybe just maybe you’ll recognize their lives as just as important as those of animals.

Lack of medical insurance. Higher rates of high blood pressure and diabetes than other groups. Exponentially high HIV/AIDS rates combined with less access to life-saving medications. Less likely to have access to fresh fruits and vegetables.  What do all these things have in common?

They’re all factors that end black lives on a daily basis.

To add, only about 8 percent of black families have a supermarket located in their census tract. To boot, physicians whose patients are mostly minorities tend to be less experienced and are less likely to be certified by a health board.  (Five Charts that Explain Why Black Americans are Still Dying Younger than White Americans, Think Progress)

Black folk are living in a country where they are more likely to be sick and unhealthy than any other racial/ethnic group. Ask yourself: have you protested or spoken on this fun fact lately?

Lynched and mutilated

The world was appalled (as it should have been) when news revealed that a dentist beheaded 13 year-old Cecil the Lion. But I’m sitting here wondering, does the “world” even know about Lennon Lacy, the 17 year old black teen who was found dead — his lifeless body dangling from a rope tied from the top of a swing set in a mobile home park in Bladenboro, North Carolina last year? Fast-forward to a few months ago and travel a little farther south to Port Gibson, Mississippi. In March of this year, did you know that 54 year old Otis Byrd was found dead, hanging from a tree? A dead black man, hanging from a tree. In Mississippi. Five months ago. (5 Horrific Modern-Day Lynchings of Blacks in America, RollingOut)

Animals aren’t the only ones mutilated. Would you believe me if I told you that sometimes, humans do this to other humans, and that racism kills and that these deaths should demand your attention, in addition to Cecil the Lion’s death?

Don’t forget

The people of Zimbabwe didn’t even know about Cecil’s death, until the world started its witch hunt for his murderer, Walter Palmer. “It is not an overstatement that almost 99,99 percent of Zimbabweans didn’t know about this animal until Monday. Now we have just learnt, thanks to the British media, that we had Africa’s most famous lion all along, an icon!” reported a few days ago in The Chronicle, A Zimbabwean newspaper. – Let that one marinate.

Cecil the Lion was named after Cecil Rhodes…the same guy who gave the Rhodes Scholarship and the African territory of Rhodesia, their namesakes. Cecil Rhodes is known for being a South African politician slash businessman slash imperialist, among other things, but he was also an avid racist. He wanted the white race to take over as much of Africa as possible, insisting that the more whites took over, the better the world would be. “I contend that we are the finest race in the world and that the more of the world we inhabit the better it is for the human race. Just fancy those parts that are at present inhabited by the most despicable specimens of human beings what an alteration there would be if they were brought under Anglo-Saxon influence,” stated Rhodes.

Let that one marinate, too.

Look, I know the world is upset. But can a girl be upset with the world for just a moment?

10 of the Most Disturbing Things about the Charleston Shooting

10 most disturbing things pic EDIT

1.          Nine people are dead. Three managed to live, but they will never be the same again. All under the roof of the very first African Methodist church in the nation – a church that was birthed from the black struggle and revolution of the colonial South. Death, tragedy, despair – all because of a deep-seated white supremacist hate that words can’t really describe.

  1. People are blaming the victims for the massacre itself. South Carolina Representative William Chumley suggested the 9 victims chose to die the way that they did. He said they “waited their turn to be shot.” The emotions are running high from the incident alone – the gruesomeness of the crime and its racial implications exacerbate these emotions. But after hearing a politician openly blame the victims for the massacre, the anger, isolation and disappointment set in – especially for me, as a woman of color.
  1. Hearing about the privileges afforded to the shooter – from the Burger King meal police purchased him hours after the massacre, to a judge urging people to pray for the shooter’s family, to the funds raised by numerous of people and organizations to support the murderer – is a real slap in the face. The more we hear about folk sympathizing more with the murderer than his victims, the more we can all clearly see the systematic devaluing of black people and the ubiquitous never-ending privilege granted to white criminals in action. And it hurts. Deeply.
  1. The day after the shooting, the South Carolina capital had its flags at half-staff to acknowledge the tragedy – well, not all of its flags. The day after nine lives were violently snuffed out in the state of South Carolina, both the American and the South Carolina flag were lowered to half-staff. The day after a vile hate of black lives resulted in a church massacre, the flag that historically condoned slavery and white supremacy, the confederate flag, flew high — business as usual. This gesture served as a grave reminder that times haven’t changed nearly as much as we’d like to believe they have.
  1. Over and over again, the historical implications of the confederate flag have been misinterpreted, misunderstood and/or completely ignored. Only slaveholding states could join the confederacy. To boot, the designer of the confederate flag wrote the following on its behalf – “As a people we are fighting to maintain the heaven ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior colored race. […] As a national emblem, it is significant of our higher cause, the cause of a superior race (Our Flag, George Preeble).” And some people are STILL baffled and even angered by black people’s resistance against the flag. But maybe they aren’t baffled. Maybe they know the ugly truth…and they’re just as ugly.
  1. Mental illness is being used and abused. Many attribute the murderer and his crime to poor mental health and drugs, despite his manifesto, his PLANNING of this slaughter and his DECISION to target this particular church based on its historical significance – all of which require clear, lucid and organized thoughts. Meanwhile, people who truly suffer from mental illness suffer undue abuse in jails and prisons across the nation and across the world. Meanwhile, blacks who commit crimes or are suspected of criminal activity suffer an automatic character assassination and are deemed “thugs.” Rarely is “mental illness” ever a serious consideration in the court of public opinion.
  1. Since Charleston, black church fires in the south have been largely on the rise. Although these arsons and suspected arsons may not receive the same amount of media attention as other incidents as of late, they are happening. It seems as if black folk can’t even pray in peace. History repeats itself, as we’re coming up on the 52nd anniversary of the Birmingham church bombing that killed four innocent little black girls.
  1. President Barack Obama recently told a radio show that he is “fearless.” His fearlessness has been conveyed through his candid talk about race. His sentiments have opened up the floodgates for writers all over the nation to feel just a little more comfortable speaking on their experiences in the raw, no holds bar. It has been so refreshing to see a man, our PRESIDENT open up and speak up for his people – but as the same time, it has been disheartening that his openness has evoked fear and anger in the thoughts and opinions of the racists around us. Some have said the President is starting a race war. Black writers revealing their stance on things like the confederate flag, the public opinions on the Charleston shooting and race relations in this country as a whole have been vilified, to say the least. People are going as far as threatening to unsubscribe to papers. For them, black writers talking about their un-white washed opinions makes them feel too uncomfortable; it makes life feel too real. It’s easier for people to live within selective realities than to open their ears and eyes to diverse people, experiences and opinion.
  1. Just as people have been opening up about race relations, racists have been themselves in the past few weeks – and they look like our friends, our coworkers and our neighbors. Chameleons are among us, and as they are revealed, our stomachs twist, our hearts break and our feelings hurt. We are saddened and we are disgusted. People aren’t always who they seem to be. But we must take this more as a learning experience and less as a let-down. We must let people show us who they are and we must take note…and then? Onward we march.
  1. Life as a whole is one big learning experience– and the Charleston shooting is yet another lesson that we’re all responsible for teaching to others. As the victims are being laid to rest, the criminal trial of the murderer begins, the survivors try to start the healing process, the politics of the confederate flag are grappled with and other aspects of the massacre start to unfold, people will be looking to us for guidance. Our youth will have questions, our friends may want to hear our take on things and our family members may need help digesting everything. We are teachers. We are ALL teachers. We have to figure out how to help the little black boys and girls love the skin they’re in, despite the hate that radiates like heat all around them. We have to show our peers how to respect our opinions, particularly our differences in opinions. We have to strengthen our family units with the love, affection, education, awareness, wisdom and support to survive in a world where churches are slaughterhouses, white supremacists are supported physically, emotionally and financially and the real opinions of black folk are discouraged and in some ways, prohibited. This means more work for us and heavier loads for us to carry. But during times like this, when the world seems to be working against us, we can’t afford to sit idly in our frustration and our disgust and our sadness – we have no choice but to get to work.

Dedicated to the 9 lives lost at the hands of hate.

Clementa Pinckney. Sharonda Coleman Singleton. Tywanza Sanders. Ethel Lance. Susie Jackson. Cynthia Hurd. Myra Thompson. Daniel Simmons Sr. DePayne Middleton Doctor. 

Survival of the Fittest

There’s a war going on outside no man is safe from. Mobb Deep used these lyrics to describe life on the streets and how only the strong survive when it comes to a life riddled with things like crime and drugs. But I say, you gotta be fit to survive not just in the streets, but virtually everywhere and in every facet of life.

We are in the midst of an HIV epidemic in many major cities across the nation. Although we have come a long way in HIV treatment and those who are positive with the virus have the ability to live long lives – poverty and miseducation in the black community are just a few of the factors contributing to the overrepresentation of the virus in the black community. More and more evidence of police officers abusing their power is surfacing – in the form of violence against black bodies caught on cell phone video. More of us are going to college, but even more of us find ourselves in debt and degreeless. The media tends to focus more on stereotypical welfare queens and men carelessly spreading their seeds – and less on black women PhDs and black fathers who go above and beyond for their children. We live in a world where our youth are using rap lyrics to dictate their lives – aspiring to sling on the corner, cop bodies and pop Mollies – instead of taking music simply as entertainment. Our bodies are more likely to be unhealthy, as diabetes, high blood pressure and other lifestyle-based ailments pervade our families and our communities. And our mental health bears the brunt of all these things and more, as our culture often teaches us to minimize our pain and maximize our physical, mental and emotion loads.

It’s time to do something different, ya’ll. Apparently what we’ve been doing as a collective has NOT been working.

It’s time to seriously arm ourselves for war.

The books are our weapons – let’s use them and use them wisely, because the brain is a terrible thing to waste. Let’s stop the whole if you want to hide something from a black person, put it in a book lie we’ve been living. Our families, our communities are our platoons. We are only as strong as our weakest player – with that being said, let’s not let a lack of uplift be our downfall. Our love for ourselves is the best ammunition known to man – our want for better, our interest in education, our investments – not only in our businesses, but also in our health and the health of others. Our elders are our wisest soldiers. Let’s listen to them, because more times than not, many of them have been through the same things we’re struggling with and then some. Let’s let them help us guide our steps.  Our children are our most precious soldiers. We have to protect them and lead them at all costs – with school, with finances, with relationships and everything else under the sun. They’re going to be holding down the front lines in our place in the near future. And finally, our perseverance is our armor – our trauma has trained us for the  trenches and our pain protects us in the line of fire . What hasn’t killed us has only made us stronger – it’s in our blood to stand tall when the going gets tough.

The casualties are adding up. Are you armed for war?