Tag Archives: respect

Free At Last

mlk-club-flyer

A club flyer for a MLK weekend party

On this day, Martin Luther King Jr. would have been 88 years old. I wrote this piece a few years back, but decided to re-post it, as its relevance still stands. 

On this day (January 15th) in 1929, one of our country’s  (and the world’s) greatest leaders was born. In 1963 at the March on Washington, he delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech, one of the most (if not, THE most) powerful, most eloquent speeches known to man. King went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize for his peaceful efforts against US racism in 1964.

Among his most notable achievements — the things we (hopefully) learn about in schooling and in other outlets — are the turmoil, the setbacks and the degradation King and his contemporaries faced in a nation where their influence, their ideas, their livelihoods and their color were viewed with pure hate. All in the name of equality.

And here we are today — we as black folk can vote, we can use whatever restroom we want, drink from whichever water fountain we want, we can now attend the universities that were built by the blood, sweat and tears of our own enslaved ancestors — the same universities we were institutionally excluded from for much of the 20th century…you get the point. Things aren’t perfect, but we as a people have come a long way — all because of the sacrifices of King and others before us.

And how do we pay them back? Oh, by editing their pictures into club flyers, of course.

You may be thinking — “Lighten up, its not that bad,” or perhaps, “It’s just a joke, its not that serious.” But when we make these flyers, when we share them and use them to promote events — it becomes a little more damaging than a paper and a laugh. “FREE AT LAST,” reads the top of the flyer posted above. But what I’d like to ask everyone reading this is — Who is really free?

During slavery, blacks were degraded to the utmost degree — slaves that were talented were mocked and made to feel less than; slaves that were disadvantaged in some way or couldn’t perform as well as others were humiliated by slave owners as well, often given names of powerful Greek gods and goddesses, as a sarcastic gesture to poke fun at their powerlessness. Slave women were raped on a daily basis, sexually exploited and denied any sexual freedom at the hands of this very nation. Black bodies were deemed worthless and were put on display in slave auctions and other “events,” stripping slaves of their clothes…and their dignities.

I ask you again, WHO is really free?

In this flyer here (and in many, many others), King is “adorned” with a crown, gold chains and gold rings. Are we celebrating an African-American hero? Or are we making a mockery of this civil rights pioneer for our own “gains,” just as the slave owners did back in the day? It would be just like the actions of the slave owners, but in this instance, our own gains (promoting said party while promoting degradation of our men and women) are also our own losses (promoting said party while promoting degradation of our men and women). Damn, at least the slave owners even had enough sense about them to better themselves in the process.

Excuse my language and excuse my disgust. But this is an all time low for us, ya’ll.

I like to party. I like to joke. But I love my dignity 10 fold more than the former. Can we put a crown and some gold rings on that?

Free at last? More like last to be free.

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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.

 

Cleaning Lady

cleaning lady feet
I saw this lady
Clean the bathroom
Mop up the malice, bleach clean the bigotry and throw away the arrogance of a civilization
This United States of a nation
It’s too bad when folk act too good to clean up they own mess
I saw this lady
With the weight of the world on her shoulders
The kids at the college seem frozen in time while she grows older
and older and older
I told her “good morning” and she smiled too
It was the kind of halfway smile that don’t really believe you
I didn’t speak soon enough. Or I spoke too soon.
Then her silence told me that she just here to clean the bathroom.
Society tends to treat its hardest workers with the least respect. Silence kills the spirit. I wrote this to kill the silence. 
Love, Kiara

Black People Don’t Tip (2014)

tipforsite

Picture this:

You and some friends or family go out to eat for dinner. After waiting for a table for however long, your party is called for the next available one. You are finally seated. Your throat is parched and you and the people you’re with are all ready to put those drink orders in. You look around at the waiters and the waitresses scurrying about, wondering which one will be taking care of you for the evening.

Five minutes pass, you start to look at your watch. You have somewhere to be after dinner, but you’re certain this meal won’t interfere with your plans. Ten minutes go by, still no waitress or waiter and the people that came in after you already have drinks and are about to place their food orders.

More time passes without any service. “Did they forget about us?” you wonder, even amidst the here and again eye contact some of the wait staff makes with you and your party. And amidst the laughter and jovial atmosphere of the restaurant, a half-enthused waitress with a fake smile dishes out the fakest greeting to your table. She takes your drink orders and goes into the back.

Several minutes later, you get your drinks and as you ask questions about the menu, her artificial smiles starts to fade and her she-can-take-you-or-leave-you attitude sets in. You’re ready to tell her a thing or two (if you know what I mean), but you don’t want to get ghetto and loud in the restaurant. You look over to your right, and the family that came in 2 parties after you is finishing their meal.

“If this food don’t come in the next few minutes, I’m going to miss out on my plans,” you think to yourself. You look around and see the other waiters and waitresses engaging in conversation with customers at other tables, looking lively and happy to serve. Your waitress is one of them. You look up and your food is (finally) at your table.

You eat in a hurry, trying to stay on your schedule for the night. You notice your mashed potatoes are a little cold. The manager is going up to each table, asking customers about their food and their experience. You wonder if you’ll literally be able to voice your complaint about your cold food, because your mouth is so dry. After all, your waitress never gave you a refill on your drink.

The manager walks by, skips your table, and asks the next table about their dining experience. You hear glasses clanging from the refills of other tables and as you look down at the ice melting in your empty cup, and as you begin to realize that the establishment has not deemed you a priority, the check is dropped onto the table.

Now you tell me, what’s that tip supposed to look like?

Often, black people are assumed to be non-tippers and are treated accordingly before they even get to the table…heck, before they arrive at the restaurant — which often translates to no treatment at all.

Numbers don’t lie, but they don’t tell the whole story.

(2014; from the TBTB archives)

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?

For the Ladies: “Her Brown Body”

woman looking in mirror EDIT
 by Kiara Lee
Her brown body – rich in history and in melanin, endowed with girth
Surrounded by infatuation and contemplation, yet still, devoid of worth
Fingers point at her in the streets, eyes stare at her with thoughts under sheets,
A soul so tender, a soul so sweet, reduced to nothing…nothing more than a piece of meat.
Her Brown Body
But she likes it, it’s the only attention she really gets and attention is really her only wish
All eyes are on her, this — this is only as good as it’s ever gonna get
She does everything under the sun thinking, she’s thinking that she’ll find the one and she’s
Devaluing herself and her plan is to sell her body and her soul to a man
Her Brown Body
Society teaches her everything she should know
How to treat him like a king, how to let him treat her like a hoe
Her brown body accepts it because…her brown body feels neglected
If she’s not treated this way, because somewhere along the line, she forgot what respect is…
 Her Brown Body
Oh how dignified she should be and how tall she should stand
Because back in the day, her brown body was an exhibit, just look at Sarah Baartman
A South African slave, her body parts were put on display, European men made her dance butt naked ball and chain and in a cage
The twerking and the clapping of today ain’t nothin’ new they say…it was FORCED on her brown body back in those days…
 Well today, her brown body is just the same
Playing HERSELF cheap this time, all pain, no gain
A queen caged and ashamed, too afraid to let her true royalty reign
Exploited and displayed, a new age slave chained to an age old game
Her Brown Body
Her Brown Body — all hurt and no worth
A list of insecurities as long as her weave, her love for self as short as her skirt
Beautiful brown skin and a beautiful spirit within — things to adore
or things to deplore, an all-out war, where only a MAN can even out the score.

Weekly Wisdom: Don’t Try to Figure it Out

Weekly Wisdom: Don’t Try to Figure it Out

People have funny ways.  People are especially funny, to me, when they treat others badly for no apparent reason.

The lady that works in a restaurant glares at you angrily during your entire visit. Someone at your job doesn’t want to work with you. An acquaintance or family member always feels the need to “one-up” you in any and every given conversation. It bothers you, and you find yourself time and time again questioning things.

Then you start second guessing yourself. “Am I coming off a certain type of way to bring such behavior on?” you may ask yourself. “Is it something that I did in the past to warrant such mistreatment?” you may ponder.

But for real for real, you’re putting yourself through way too much trouble. I’m finding out that this world is full of people FULL of hang-ups. They’ve got their own problems, whether they include jealousy, insecurity, stereotypical points of view or other things that have NOTHING to do with you. Why try to question yourself? YOU don’t have to answer to these people. Truth is they question you because they truly question THEMSELVES.

I’ve found myself at this place time and time again – coming across someone with a stank attitude and trying to figure out their problem. And I’ve learned time and time again that it’s a waste of time. So I urge you, don’t try to figure it out. Some people will roll their eyes because the sky is blue, while others let a door slam in your face because of the color of your skin. It’s all nonsense and more times than not, it has absolutely nothing to do with you.

Misery loves company – so don’t ever accept the invite!

Peace, Love & Consciousness

 alkjfsadf

Kiara