Tag Archives: racism

Souled Out

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Because sometimes, in today’s America, there is no such thing as forgiveness 

you can’t make me say

I forgive you

while the blood is still wet on

the pavement or

on your badge or

on the American flag

and when that blood dries

my face

will still be wet with

tears and thousands upon thousands of years because

there is no such thing as consolation

you can’t make me pray

for the one caught red-handed while

people pay for his lies and

his alibis watching

black mothers cry

watching

their beautiful black babies die

I will never forgive you

you forfeited that kind of love

the moment you made the conscious decision

to hate me

you can’t make me

you can’t make me paint a smile

on this tortured face any longer

because meekness has tainted the canvas enough already and

my load is far too heavy

to keep carrying your weight and

carrying your guilt to

ease the burden

it’s too late for Kumbaya and

your “sorry” makes my ears bleed

it brings me too much pain

and I won’t hold your hand

because it is stained with

the blood of my brother

And I can’t make you wash your hands

 

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Microaggression

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Microaggression

That thing that is a thing

That really isn’t a thing

It’s real in a scholarly article or

In a library database

But the minute the word leaves my lips

To describe how I live

It’s fake

 

Unreasonable doubt

 

Microaggression

Too vulgar for your after-school special

But not enough for a therapy session

Because there’s no cure for oppression

There’s no medicine for this disease

Even though I have symptoms everyday

Symptoms that you may not ever even see

That no vaccination or inoculation could

Ever prevent

This is a diagnosis; this is a dose of reality

My pain, my wound, my infliction, my condition – it’s there

Trust me

 

Blind faith

 

Microaggression

Is when you don’t like someone for no reason —

Wait, there is a reason, but it remains to be unsaid

Even though it’s in your heart and

All up in your head

But you can hear it if

You’re really quiet and you really listen

To your bias and to your intuition

Microaggression by definition is

Subtle discrimination

Every day, threaded

The fabric of this nation

 

Sight seen and unseen

 

Microagression

Is If I looked like you, I would have gotten the job that you do and

I really like your people, and

I just love their hair too

Can I touch it? I mean, is it okay with you? or

You’re my favorite friend of color, my brother

Who knows your truth better than me?

 

Microaggression

I find you in traveling lectures and

In fancy books by fancy smancy professors

But I see you more in the hallways

And in the mall

And at work and

At the bar and

On Facebook and

On the news

And in my neighborhood

And in my blues

 

Too close to home

 

Microaggression

But you go by another name:

The girl that sits next to me in class who

Covers her tests with her hands thinking

Her answers are the only reason I

Pass

Or the mother that grabs her child’s hand real tight

When I walk by at night

And in the daytime and

The co-worker who pretends to be my friend but

Soon as I turn my back, she’s criticizing me and the position

I don’t deserve to be in

Who’s who?

 

You’re with me everyday

Some of you I don’t even know

Yet and still, I know you better than I

Ever knew myself

Trigger Warnings and Crooked Triggers

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I’m writing in a space where I’m the minority. Figuratively and literally.

I’m overhearing a conversation about trigger warnings or warnings before sensitive topics. A girl shares with her friends her disdain for her black African-American history professor. “She showed us pictures of lynchings with no trigger warnings,” she disgustingly exclaimed. She then equated this with this professor’s ability to teach. “I was like ‘you’re an educator, you should know that people are going to react differently to different things.'” She then advised everyone around her to not take her class.

I’m sitting here as my stomach is flipping and flopping. I want to scream but nothing is coming out of my mouth.

Trigger warnings. Masks. Excuses. Bullshit. Or whatever you want to call them. I want to call it what it is and enlighten them all. But then I’d be playing the victim, as folk say.

Because she’s the victim — or at least that’s what she wants to believe.

If the recent police murders of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and countless others ever since weren’t recorded, shared on social media and exposed to the public at-large, these unjust killings would have gone virtually unnoticed.

Did these victims of police brutality get a warning before they were shot to death by the very people who are supposed to protect them? Did Philando Castile’s preschool-aged daughter get a warning, letting her know that she would sit in the backseat of the family car while watching the passenger seat change colors as her father’s blood slowly stained it red, by way of a crooked, lethal trigger? Did she know ahead of time that she would carry the burden of consoling her mother, sitting in a precinct for 15 hours with no food and no water?

To be warned is to be privileged, and privilege does not exist in true victimhood.

“People have mental illnesses and traumatic experiences,” she said. “Why can’t they get permission to skip the class?” She asked.

Mental illness. If you were a person, I would feel the most sorry for you. Your name is misused and abused. People who suffer with you are being overlooked and people who want to overlook racial history use your name in vain as a beard to hide their deep-seated fear of the truth.

When I write about race, I am complaining.

When I speak about race, I am angry.

When she avoids addressing the ugly truth of the Jim Crow South and lynchings and race, she’s standing up for people.

God bless the black woman educator. I am she. She is me. A black woman who has worked her ass off to be finally granted the ultimate privilege of teaching as a student (granted, under an assistantship) at a university. A black woman who is employed to enlighten young scholars of all ages, colors and hues. A black woman who has more than likely fought through the wraths of racism, sexism, hateration, micro-aggressions and everything else in between on her way to the top.

God bless the victims of police murders and other unjust, racially-charged crimes against humanity. No trigger warning could ever stop a crooked trigger.

God bless those that suffer from mental illness. I pray that you feel as comfortable as possible no matter where you are or where you happen to go. If you know me, you know my mother is a therapist and if you’re suffering, I extend my hand to you with her services. But this isn’t about mental illness.

I want to talk about masks.

I don’t like them. I want to rip them off. All of them. I want the tape affixed to the masks to pull all the little hairs off the faces of the hidden. And I want it to sting, like nothing ever felt before.

This girl. She wants the mask to stay on. She wants to marry it and live happily ever after with it, ’til death do they part. This is the same girl that felt so compelled to prove to me how “down” for black folk she is when I first met her.

“My friends told me not to move here because they’re so many black people but I thought that was awesome.”

“A lot of the time I’m the only white person in my classes but that’s fine, really.”

“Where I used to live, there were white people everywhere and I just couldn’t take the lack of diversity.”

But she doesn’t want to address the plight of the people she claims to love so much?

She’s not alone. The masks are permanently congealed to the faces of many.

To the true victims: Don’t be weary and don’t be still.

But know.

Know your history. Know your right to know your history. Black people were slaves. Black people were lynched. Black people were systematically degraded by the rule of the law. Nobody can change the past. Too many people are doing too much to undo. Fight it. Always fight it in your own way. When I fight, I write.

And when the past constantly taunts the present by way of the school to prison pipeline, police brutality, racial profiling, a widening achievement gap and endless covert discriminatory tactics woven into the thread of the nation, you have no choice but to face history head on. It is your duty —

when you are a victim.

We are in a space where everybody wants to play the victim, but most are far too fragile for this line of work.

 

The Conversation 

Police brutality and the war on black men forces poetry out of my soul. It also forces hard conversations with the people we love.

I had to have

the conversation

with the man I love
I told him to just

Lay

Just lay on the ground

When they come around
As I spoke I felt that rope

Tied around my throat
And it hurt.
I told him to do whatever

they say

I told him to pray

While he lay

As I choked

on tears and pride
Two black men murdered 2 nights in a row in July

There’s no other option

The man I love
Has

Got

To

Survive
I had to have

the conversation
I felt him lose his patience

as fear consumed me

And there was nothing he could do about it
I felt him lose his power

While murderous thoughts devoured

my heart and my soul and my bones
Engulfed in flames

Set ablaze by the videos

On my social media page
I had to have

the conversation
“I’m gonna be alright” he said

And he held me tight

While I kissed his forehead
Then we said goodnight.
Each minute that passed while he drove home felt more like an hour
I lost my patience.
At least we had the conversation
But then I thought about

His dark skin

His boldness

His unyielding power

His smart mouth

His charisma

And his confidence
Yall know how a man is

He

Has

Got

To

Survive
There’s no other option.

 

10 of the Most Disturbing Things about the Charleston Shooting

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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.