Tag Archives: black love

Still, You’re Loved by Fantasia Alston

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I was praised

For rocking my fro

Applying essential oils

That made my skin glow

I was praised

for dating within

because I couldn’t possibly love myself

If I were into white men

I was praised

For my fulfilling physique

Curves caught the attention of many

Who were reluctant to speak

But she was condemned

Her hair was relaxed

She might’ve been accepted

Had it flown down her back

She was condemned

For dating outside her race

“How could she love the enemy?”

It was a slap in the black man’s face

She was condemned

For being too petite

Lacking the assets of her counterparts

Most were sure she didn’t eat

Even if her self love wasn’t instilled

I loved her so

How can bashing my own

Cause her to grow

Who am I to judge her being

Because of what she wears

Who she chooses to date

Or how she manipulates her hair

To me she’s a queen

A sister I must protect

No need to know her personally

To treat her with the utmost respect

The resiliency in our blackness is otherworldly

The uniqueness is here to stay

Our preferences don’t dim each other’s light

I wish we could all see it that way.


unnamedFantasia Alston is a guest writer for theblackertheberry.org. She is a 22 year old free spirit  and visionary who spends most of her time  writing poetry, reading (preferably mystery books), and doing whatever she can to help better the community, whether it be volunteering at the nearest homeless shelter or picking up any litter found on the solid surface of the Earth. She also enjoys painting whatever comes to mind, cooking, meditating,  and taking long walks to nowhere.  She currently resides in Columbia, SC. She is a writer for #SCHOOLGIRLHUSTLE, an organization that supports and empowers girls and women to stay in school. Learn more about her and her work here. Follow her on instagram here.

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For the Ones that Ain’t Here

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His notebook was his canvas

He painted such a beautiful world

Such an artist

Drawing with his words and with his verbs

Not quite like the chalk drawing that outlined his body in the crime scene on the street curb

When his momma heard

She screamed and

She fell to her knees and

Called on Jesus

Then with God she begged and she pleaded

Not for her son and

Not for her self

But she prayed for the world and all that it needed

Defeated by

The laws of the hood

The politics of the block

Life on the corner and

This street and that set law and order

Momma said do good and

Momma said live right and

Momma said say your prayers every day and every night

But Momma didn’t tell him about the wrong side of town or

How to act or a plan of attack for

When the goons come around

He passed and some weeks passed too

And then one night all of sudden and out the blue

Momma took his notebook out of his room and

She flipped through the pages and she looked to the moon

Then she apologized for speaking too soon and

For letting her son believe the world was so beautiful

Learning to Cope with Blackness by Mariah Williams

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I felt heavy most days I went to work. Being Black in corporate America requires one to wear a cloak of confidence and protection just to make it through the day, even the simplest of tasks. The idea of double consciousness has always weighed pretty heavily on me, especially because I’ve routinely been immersed in hegemonic White spaces where the smile I wore did not always reflect what I was thinking or feeling on the inside. I learned at an early age that many people within these spaces, both Black and White, were not always willing to talk about the messiness of race, class and gender, and would rather avoid the uneasiness those topics aroused altogether. I also learned that getting my daily dose of pro-Black conversation would have to come from Black co-workers at Happy Hours or group chats with close friends and not from the workplace.

The fact is, I’m Black, and I state that proudly. But, at any given point in my life, I could walk down the street, be perceived as a threat, wear the wrong clothes, make a sudden movement and my life could be in jeopardy. My White co-workers didn’t see that. To them, I was the articulate Black girl, the one who did well for herself despite being raised by a single mother. To them, I failed to represent the stereotypes of Blackness in this country. I was safe to them, but unfortunately, the privilege their white skin afforded them would always be a threat to me and those who looked like me.

I’ve always had a good understanding of the game I had to play to be successful, but as any Black person knows, it’s beyond tiring, and on days where I wake up to yet another Black body being gunned down by law enforcement, I feel heavy. Extremely heavy. And as much as I hate to admit it, hopeless. Not because I don’t think things will change or because I take the work of my ancestral freedom fighters for granted, but because I am preparing to walk into a place where my co-workers will talk about arbitrary news events to spark conversation or a local bar they visited, and make no mention of what’s happening to Black people in this country, people who look exactly like me. I realize it’s probably naïve of me to expect them to say anything and I don’t really know why I’m surprised, but it’s still an awful feeling to be silenced and to go unseen, to be expected to deal with conditions most people would find unbearable. But, I bite my tongue, because that’s what we are taught to do.

Instead, I want to call out and say the reason for my absence is simple: tired from being Black. I’d say, “I’ll see you all when America starts to acknowledge and value my humanity”.  Truth is, I’d probably never go back if I had to wait on that.

I struggle with juggling the two worlds, even after 24 years of doing it. I imagine that most Black people do. Be it in corporate America or predominantly White universities, the feeling of otherness pulls us down like an anchor. Luckily, I have friends and family outside of work who get it and who are willing to be my soundboard whenever I need it, but I imagine there are people who have no such thing, who have no way of filling their cups back up after long days of feigned smiles and exaggerated laughter with co-workers who are oblivious to what their White privilege affords them.

I don’t pretend to have the solution to how spaces marred by White hegemony can work to acknowledge the experiences of being “the other.”

I simply know that I’m am tired of feeling drained from the battle that comes from being Black in this country and being forced to endure, to get over it and to let it go.

For those of us who have felt trapped in a world where we are unseen and unheard and sometimes even pretend to be someone we are not because we can’t talk about the ties we have to people like Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin or Tamir Rice, I encourage us to seek out where we can find these communities. The reality is, our workplaces are unlikely to change in the ways we need them to, or if they do, they will adopt the superficial front of diversity and inclusion that most places do these days. Even though they will promote being open, there will never truly be a space to express the realities of the “other” experience.

Breaking the vicious cycle of otherness and lessening the load hegemony brings is a riddle I’ve not yet solved, but I will continue to seek outlets to make this Black life I’m living a bit easier, and I encourage others to do the same.


pictureMariah Williams is a graduate student at VCU pursing a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning. She enjoys reading, writing and is passionate about social justice issues within the Black community. She loves her Black and  her magic and wants to become an urban planner who works with women of color to develop cultural and inclusive spaces within neighborhoods and cities.

I Had to Remind Myself

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I had to remind myself

 

Who

I

Am

 

You have to do that sometimes

You have to do that when

The world knocks you down

to your feet and

Knocks the wind out of you

As if you don’t deserve to breathe

 

It stole my soul

Temporarily

Missing: Myself

Last Seen: Forgetting

Who the fuck she was

 

My search started with a mirror

I was so scared and it was so clear

I knew

Better.

I knew that I was

Better

Than I gave myself credit for.

 

I had to remind myself

 

Who

I

Am

 

I had to rescind the transaction

After I sold myself out

You have to do that sometimes

You have to do that when

Counterfeit money gets caught up in

Your register

 

I died

and then I was revived when

The mirror told me

 

Who the fuck I am

Help a Sista Help a Sista

“Unfortunately, history has shown us that [sisterhood] must be learned, when it should be natural.” — Josephine Baker

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Jendayi Johnson

 

Today, my mom and I ran into a man at the mall. In conversation, he brought  up his daughter. His face lit up when he spoke of her.

My face lit up when his face lit up. I was loving this father’s love.

“She just finished up at University of Virginia and now she’s headed to New York for graduate school.” Jendayi Johnson, his daughter, is headed to Columbia in the fall to study speech-language pathology. Her studies have been inspired by her grandmother, who suffered a stroke and lost most of her speaking ability.

While the doctor was claiming defeat, alleging that Jendayi’s grandmother may never speak again, the speech pathologist was working to prove otherwise. After months of working with the speech pathologist, Jendayi’s grandmother was speaking whole sentences.

How sweet a feeling it is when we prove doubt and defeat wrong.

Unfortunately, Jendayi herself has dealt with a great deal of doubt from others and even from herself. “When I was accepted into college, I was told that I only got in because I was Black,” she explained on her Just Jobs scholarship page. She went on to talk about overheard conversations demeaning Black students and minimizing the validity of their accomplishments. After internalizing all of this, she, like many students, developed Impostor Syndrome, or an inability to accept personal success and achievement. People who experience Impostor Syndrome often fear that they should not be where they are in life and aren’t as capable as their peers.

It’s easy to feel like an impostor as a black woman in higher education. In many spaces of higher education, we are limited or even non-existent. Nonetheless, our presence in these spaces is needed and well overdue. Many black women miss opportunities for higher education, not because we are incapable, but rather, because we are unsupported.

Sisterhood.

Its when I reached out to a UVA student via Facebook when I first got accepted into my master’s program and she took time out her busy schedule to talk to me before I even got there, came over and gave me a 3 hour pep talk the night I moved to Charlottesville and afterwards, became a lifelong friend and role model.

Its when a dean at my undergraduate alma mater, University of Richmond, supported me when I was threatened and had property vandalized for the words I wrote in the school newspaper, from the moment it happened to the police hearing, which she attended with me. She continued to support me well after it was all said and done.

Its when a retired philanthropist decided to sow seeds through me and pay for me to travel in order to work with marginalized girls throughout Virginia and beyond before ever meeting me in person.

There were way more than three black women who helped pave the way for me. Now, its Jendayi’s turn. She needs way more than that to help support her vision as well.

“Receiving my degree will allow me to prove everyone that thought that I didn’t have the ability to succeed wrong. More importantly, it would be the first step of many towards achieving my goal of fortifying my clients’ abilities to communicate their thoughts, opinions, and desires and continuing on the trajectory that other Black scholars that came before me created,” Jendayi asserted.

Black people are crabs in a barrel.

Black women never support each other.

Our community is tainted by these false stereotypes.

Jendayi wants to prove the naysayers wrong by helping others do the same.

My momma and I told her daddy that he ran into the right people today. Help me follow through.

Help a sista help a sista and vote for this young queen to win a scholarship so she can go on to Columbia and really show out and show and prove.

Because sisterhood should be natural.

(Its extremely easy to vote. From what I was told, clicking the heart above the comments section counts as a vote. Also, leaving comments on the page and sharing her page on Facebook also helps to convince the judges. You have until Friday, 7/ 15/2016 to vote.)

Tamir

Kiara Jacobs, 8, hugs her brother Quentin Stamen, 13, at a memorial where Tamir Rice was fatally shot by Cleveland police officers who mistook the 12 year old's toy gun for a real gun.

Kiara Jacobs, 8, hugs her brother Quentin Stamen, 13, at a memorial in the Cleveland park where Tamir Rice was fatally shot by police officers who mistook the 12 year old’s toy gun for a real gun, Dec. 4, 2014. The Justice Department announced on Thursday that a two-year investigation found a pattern of unreasonable and unnecessary use of force by police in Cleveland. (Ty Wright/The New York Times)

“I’m sorry”

The first two words that come to mind

The most passive saying

For the most violent crime

I’m sorry

Folk are trying to make those words the end of his memory,

To add to the his-tory of black lives lost, similarly

But that won’t happen, so don’t think twice

He will never be forgotten

His name is Tamir Elijah Rice

“Black Lives Matter”

The catch phrase of our time

Another infamous line

Somebody’s lying

Because the more we say it, the more we’re dying

Tamir left us a matyr, a sacrificial lamb

Because we have not sacrificed enough

shame on them, shame on us

Life is so rough, life is so lethal

when even in death our people

Just don’t give a damn

“A wealthy man, one who stands tall”

Is the meaning of the name Tamir

How could it be more loud, how could it ever be more clear

The death of a child at the crooked cop’s hand

All because a 12 year old child was more of a man

It hurts

To write the words on this page

Because no matter how much pain the truth may bring

All still won’t be so phased

To take a stand and remember him

But I will

He made

The ultimate sacrifice

His name is Tamir Elijah Rice.

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?