American, We

My Dear American Family,

Since it is our national identity that you cite
when trying to convince me of the privileges
I have as a person born and living in the United States,
it is this identity to which I hope to appeal.

Since it is our national identity that you cite
when you explain to me that I should accept
your forefathers as my forefathers,
your language as my language,
your culture as my culture
it is this identity to which I hope to appeal.

Since it is our national identity that you cite
when you inform me of how my critique of holidays
for individuals who colonized, stole, raped, enslaved and oppressed
indigenous people, African people
makes me less of an American
it is this identity to which I hope to appeal.

Since it is our national identity that you cite
when you tell me that I should move elsewhere
if I cannot sing the praises of our country without hesitation,
if I cannot ignore that our lived experiences are so vastly different,
it is this identity to which I hope to appeal.

Since it is our national identity that you cite
when you tell me that we must come together
to pray and push legislation for victims and survivors of mass shootings
of White children at schools or White folks in movie theaters
or on campuses
it is this identity to which I hope to appeal.

Since it is our national identity that you cite
as the alleged tie that binds us together,
the commonality that makes my skin as valued as yours
it is this identity to which I hope to appeal.

I come to you as an American.

And coming to you in this manner, I will, for the time being,
package myself in your excuses.
I will be the
non-threatening, calm, intellectual,
pants-pulled-up, music turned down,
non-hoodie wearing, non-cigarette smoking or selling,
not asking for help, hands free of CDs or toy guns,
eyes empty of threat.
I will not even blink.
Though I know docile negro narratives
have never saved Black lives.

I come to you as an American,
heart full of numbness.

I come to you in this skin, as an American,
walking tempestuously, speaking softly
and ask:

Why are you so quiet? Where is your outrage?

Are you not outraged that we, your American family,
are being brutalized simply for trying to breathe the same air of freedom
that you do?

Are you not outraged that we, your American family,
are being murdered by a flawed system,
our bodies used for target practice?

I am raged.
And, as American family, you must be, too.
if you love me.

You must be as fearful and overcome
with grief as I am.

I know you must, because we’re family,
worry about me and pray for me and speak up for me
and protest for me and
call out state sanctioned violence
for me.

American me.

But can you speak louder, work harder?

Or have you not heard my pleas?
For I have told you this was happening to me.
For centuries, I’ve told you.

And now, they show you.

They show you video and pictures of me,
with blood, red like yours, oozing from my body.

And I know you are outraged
because we are all human,
all American, right?

In public lynchings I am posted and reposted and
left as a spectacle, a reminder to my children
of what is possible.

And you don’t even cover my body.

Maybe you haven’t heard me.

I screamed and cried and buried
my brother, sister, husband, wife
mother, father.
my child.
I remained calm,
I prayed, turned cheeks.
then I looked to you, American family,
to see if you were crying, too.
And you were quiet.

With white silence to comfort the triggers pulled
releasing a hail of bullets – four, five, six shots
when they kill me.

And I must laugh somewhere in frantic delirium.
Trying to find some escape
and become numb on the inside.
To keep from going crazy on the outside.

Because if I go crazy,
and act all angry.Black.person
They’ll still kill me.

And you won’t even cover my body.

But it is our national identity that you cite
when you tell me I should be proud
to be an American.

Yet, when they kill me
for being Black,
how American am I then?

And still, you won’t even cover my body.


black girls.

those loud black girls
those loud
aggressive, confrontational
loud, black girls.
depicted by
sensationalized narratives
that project anger
onto those loud
black girls
who, we’re told,
need to be tamed.

a perceived threat
even when
our mouths
are closed
and our hands
are at ease.
no neck rolling,
no lips moving and
we’re still those loud
confrontational, black girls.
so no one flinches,
when we’re assaulted.
not a blink of an eye.
masculine bodies stand
gazing in silence
“brotha, help me.”
but no hands are outstretched.
and we are to believe
those loud
black girls
must have done something.
to deserve
to be snatched
and handled
because those loud
black girls
must be taught
to respect
when it’s
white and male
and uniformed
and suited
and tied
by identical skin
“brotha, help me.”

and no one cares for
those loud
black girls
those loud black girls.

“are you okay, sis?”

we are not
those loud black girls.
we are daughters
and sisters.
we are

Black Girls’ Lives Matter – In Writing, Too

Teachers, Profs, Parents: Writers Who Care

By Gholnecsar “Gholdy” Muhammad

In the 19th century, African American girls used their pens to shape the world around them. Meeting together in literary societies, they wrote what mattered to them while unapologetically loving themselves and each other. These literary societies developed into spaces of academic excellence, self-confidence and love. As I have discussed in my research, literary societies were some of the earliest book clubs in the United States and were spaces to come together, read engaging literature, and write about significant issues during the time. This created a true community of writers.

Six years ago, I started developing writing spaces that reflected literary societies. These communities took the form of summer writing institutes for black adolescent girls. I sought to craft a space where girls could use writing to shape their lives—for the benefit of themselves and others. I also wanted space for girls…

View original post 1,198 more words


Dylann Storm Roof


Say his name

With responsible acceptance.

Claim him

As a soldier of white supremacy.

With no attempts

To demystify

Blatant anger,

Inherent disdain

For black folks.

Dehumanize him as if he were

Walking his neighborhood streets

Asking for help

Making eye contact with an officer

Or daring to swim.

Dehumanize him.

With damning media coverage of his past.

No matter how unrelated,

How unnecessary.

Paint those pictures of a white male


Whose propensity for violence

Is characteristic of his people.


They don’t wanna be saved.


Say his name.

Take ownership of his actions.

With no arguments for

Anomalistic brutality.

No explorations of his giftedness

And potential to be great,

Had he been supported by

The system.

No attribution to the

Naïveté of his youth.

No images of him smiling

Deeply steeped in

Childhood innocence.

For thugs are never children.


Say his name.

Call him a murderer,

Without exception.

No false diagnoses of mental illness

Hatred is no synonym

For psychosis.

No interviews with neighbors

Who knew him when

“He was such a good kid.”

No theorizing.

No cloaks of protection.

No Hollywood depictions of

A good guy, gone bad.


Dylann Storm Roof


Say his name.


And discuss his heinous

Crime with realness.

In the absence of white privilege.

And in the presence of respect

For the nine black lives

That mattered.



until we free

cries for peace and calm


when black and brown faces rage.

reactions to a fruitful harvest of seeds

painful indignation

planted by privilege and supremacy

watered by death’s grasp and


agitated with

televised taunting of

not giving a fuck whether we breathe.

and among the masses of bodies strewn

together, relentlessly planted in our minds

and memorialized by hashtags

videos, pictures, and headlines of

Not charged. Not guilty. Not at fault.

in the midst of this pain

psychological torturing

physical death. EXECUTION.

There’s a call.

for peace.



A call for peace.


Like picking the scalb from a sore

And asking it not to bleed?

Like enslaving our spirits

And asking us not to get free?


That. Ain’t. Peace.




a synonym for compliance.

or domicile negroes

that know our place


is nowhere.

in a bountiful land made possible

by blistered, bruised limbs

and broken-backed posture

barren wombs

of children stripped from a mother’s love

when there was no consent.


And there is a call.

for peace.

an end to violence.

an end to the destruction of property.


because shattered windows

flipped cars

and burning buildings

are replaceable consequences of pain

but black lives matter

only wheNever.


There’s a call for peace.


still, there has been no liberty.

only death.



is all that’s been requested.

for centuries.


a piece of property to call our own.

a piece of that sugary-sweet

American pie.

a piece of the Dream.

without deferral.

a piece of access

to education, absent of schooling.

to thriving communities.

side-walked streets

paved landscapes.

a piece of peace.


is all that’s been requested.

asked. pleaded. begged.

and not received.


But now.

cries for peace and calm


when black and brown faces rage

standing obstinate

wavering not to exhaustion.

[not] appealing to reason.

[not] seeking humbly

nor supplicating entreaties.


black and brown folks been calm.

and peaceful.

before anger raged.

before suffering incited.

we were peaceful.


we, too, want.

and Demand.


as a reflection of freedom.




For Bobbi Kristina…

On Saturday, January 31, 2015, Bobbi Kristina Brown, the 21-year-old daughter of Bobby Brown and the late Whitney Houston, was found unresponsive, facedown in her bathtub. As Bobbi Kristina was being rushed to the hospital, professional and social media and the blogs were reporting her detriment. The eerily similar way in which her mother was found in February of 2012 was used to forecast a bleak ending for Bobbi Kristina. Reports from allegedly anonymous individuals close to family suggested she was in a medically induced coma and had very little brain activity.

Reading that Bobbi Kristina was rushed to the hospital bothered my spirit and reading some of the comments about her and her family and the reports that were so quick to plan her final arrangements angered me. The vulturistic nature of the media and the dismissive and downright cruel statements made by people on social media fueled my nonstop prayers for Bobbi Kristina’s full recovery.

Initially, I struggled to understand why I was so impacted by Bobbi Kristina’s illness – a young woman I do not know personally. I thought about her like I would a blood relative. While we are not related, but Bobbi Kristina is family. She’s black/brown girl/woman family. She is family that’s connected to so many other black/brown girls/women through the experience of trying to BE  in a world where our being is critiqued, challenged and stifled. Too often, black/brown girl/woman being is characterized as a traumatically painful experience, and we are told in so many ways that our trauma and pain are deserved. Our trauma and pain are not received with compassion and understanding that are experienced by other girls and women. If we give way to the hurt, we are not resilient. If we let depression take hold of our psyches and bodies, we are not strong. If we soothe our pain with sex, drugs, or alcohol, we are fulfilling the expectations. We are to be forever constrained by the metaphysical dilemma of being us. Black/brown girls/women are not supposed to win. I fucking want us to win! The selfish part of me wants to see Bobbi Kristina win – for all of us. Win.

However, as I read updates on her status suggesting that her family members are saying their goodbyes, I am reminded of the prayers that I have asked God and the Universe to grant for Bobbi Kristina. My prayers focused on healing energy, lifted spirits, sincerity, energy, and love. I prayed that she be well and find peace. Be well. Be at peace. Just BE… And then it occurred to me that being well and being at peace are not connected to physical presence. Being well and at peace are spiritually conceptualized, and I sincerely believe that her spirit is well and at peace. So whether Bobbi Kristina continues to be physically present on earth or transitions to be cradled by her mother, as long as she is at peace, she wins. She wins for her.

Bobbi Kristina, fight for you, be well for you, be at peace for you, win…for you.



I am not my(full potential)self when I am afraid…

As 2015 approached, I silently contemplated all the things I wanted to accomplish. I kept thinking: I’m going to write more. I’m going to lose a little weight and get fit. I’m going to connect with family and friends more. I’m going to read more. I’m going to put myself out there. But that’s just it. I kept thinking it. I didn’t want to say it, and I definitely didn’t want to write it down on paper. If I said it to someone, that someone could hold me accountable: Qiana, remember you said…??? If I wrote it down, I would have to hold myself accountable. Urgh. Damn accountability. Why is it such a struggle to be accountable…to me? Okay, moment of honesty: I am afraid. I am terribly afraid of failure, attention, expectations, etc. Whew, I said it. But this fear has to go. It’s keeping me from being my(full potential)self.

Carolyn Gregoire listed six ways to address fear in her 2013 blog The Science of Conquering Your Fears — And Living a More Courageous Life. Those ways include: Be vulnerable. Acknowledge your fears. Expose yourself to what you fear. Think positive. Manage stress. Practice courageous acts. The list seems simple enough to follow and implement, but I was stumped with the first: Be vulnerable. provides the following definition of vulnerable:

vulnerable – [vuhl-ner-uh-buh l] /ˈvʌl nər ə bəl/ adjective

1. capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, as by a weapon.
2. open to moral attack, criticism, temptation, etc.

Being vulnerable means being open to hurt, attack, and criticism. Who wants to do that? Who wants purposely to be open to hurt, attack and criticism? I don’t know how to be vulnerable. I never learned how to be vulnerable (if that’s a thing that one has to learn). I only know strength. I was taught (albeit subliminally) how to be strong. I get it from my Mama. I get it from the elder women I grew up knowing to be the pillars of the community. They were loving. They were disciplined. They were, at times, stoic. They were strong. They were not vulnerable. If they were, I didn’t see or don’t remember their vulnerability.

At some point in my life, I concluded that vulnerability is the Black woman’s kryptonite. If I am vulnerable, I am weak. Therefore, vulnerability and weakness became synonymic aspects of self that combatted my strength in every way possible. They were on a mission to break me, and I refused to be broken.

But I am broken…

If I am (allegedly) too strong to embrace vulnerability, I am broken.

If I diminish the power of growth that comes from vulnerability, I am broken.

If I let my fear of vulnerability stifle my(full potential)self, I am broken.

In 2015, I will be vulnerable, publicly vulnerable (via this blog). That’s my only resolution, goal, etc. I will be vulnerable and hope that my vulnerability will lead me to conquering fear and living a more courageous life.

I’m ready to be my(full potential) self.


Fantasies of Me

“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.” ~ Audre Lorde

Thinking about this quote today and wrote a quick poem…

fantasies of me

don’t come close to my reality.

in truth

perception is a mere


of forced presentation

as i am the most fearful person

i know.

a contradiction of sorts

living boldly

and cowering under

the pressure to



as fantasies of me

don’t come close to my reality.

in truth

i want to streak

through crowds

but there’s


to eat me alive.

so i’m covered




in the fantasies

and they, too, eat me


killing spirit

inciting insanity


and attacks.


and facing extinction,

i decide

fantasies of me

are no match

for my lived reality.

with its pained existence

hurdles, scrapes and burns

heartache and break

and tears from

disappointment and mistakes

those fantasies

of perfection

ain’t got shyt on my reality

my truth

the tree that

kicked through

the concrete.

damn those fantasies




On My Block [A street requiem]

This past weekend, I visited Ferguson, MO along with the #BlackLivesMatter group and returned to Atlanta with a lump in my throat but empowerment in my heart. I was speechless…but I could write. And I’m sure this is unfinished, but after seeing the exact location where Mike Brown was gunned down on a neighborhood street in the middle of the day, I had to write something. Hoping to give it life at a spoken word event soon…

On my block
Were syrupy bee-bops
Up the street
The Candy Lady’s sweet shop.
The intersection of Rosa Parks
And Martin Luther King
My block was the corner
Of street lights and
Olympic dreams…
Foot races
Tightened shoe laces.
To the STOP sign and back
A quick 100 meters
Winning to talk trash
Taking rocks to pavement
Chalk for Tic-Tac
Toe in the street.
On my block
Deuces and quarters
With Subwoofers
1980s hip hop beats

On my block
Was where time stopped.
I could be cool forever
Daydreaming about
Being a poet…
Letting the rhymes drop.
Just young, wild
And free.
Taking over the streets.
Cars passed by with
Honk the horn one time
And our kick ball games
Took intermission.
With an adult yelling

“Get ya’ll asses out the street!”

But on my block
That yell was sincere
and Sweet.
And we moved.
For a time.
Watched the cars go by
Us, standing on either side.
Soul Train line.
Then kick ball resumed.
No one assumed

That on our block
We could be stopped.
For walking in OUR spaces
Sidewalks or not
Neighborhood streets
Were sacred places.
No yellow lines
No jay-walking street signs.

Because it’s



On OUR block
We don’t need
Crooked cops.
Trigger happy
Trained assassins
Carrying glocks
games of hop scotch.
Facades of protecting
And serving.
With authentic
of unnerving
Our neighborhood.
Cruising through at a
Steady 5 miles
Looking for targets
Eye contact.
Fake smiles.


On Mike’s block
A ripple of shots.
A ripple of shots.
He surrendered.
Hands up
Six times popped.
To the pavement
He dropped.
Dead in the street.
On his block.

He was dead in the street
On his block.

Blood stains
Reminders to some
Challenges to the
Headaches and tears
As children play
And mothers love
With enhanced fears
That our streets
Are not our own
That on our blocks
The innocence
Of bee-bops
Candy Ladies and sweet shops
Places where
Time never stopped.
Where cyphers lived
And beats and flows
As we danced to hop-scotch.

Those sacred places
Those neighborhood blocks
Invaded by
Trained Assassin

But we won’t
Hands up
To the pavement
We won’t drop.
Not one more
Dead in the street.
Hit by six shots.
On HIS block.
On HER block.
On OUR block.

Because it’s



Don’t come ‘round here
To our streets
Our urban retreats
Our sanctuary and
We’ve drawn lines
In the sand.
On the side of [real]  justice
We stand.

Because it’s



No place
For crooked cops
Trigger happy
Trained assassins
Armed with glocks.

Marching won’t stop
Protecting our homes
Our blocks.
Not one more
Pavement dropped
For walking in OUR spaces
Sidewalks or not
Neighborhood streets
Are sacred places.
Fuck them yellow lines
Fuck them
jay-walking street signs.

We strolling down
the blvd
the lane
the ave
the drive
From one end to the other
Still alive

Keep driving through
Don’t stop.

We just walking.
We living.
We just loving.

Because it’s






Futuristic Black Love – on 3000

Futuristic Black love
on 3000

Because 2,999 won’t do
You, me and Badu
Space traveling through galaxies
Building our families
Resisting normative boundaries
of social expectations
Highest love levitating
and creating
Bodies and ciphers and
Intergalactic escapes to lands
That celebrate

Futuristic Black love
on 3000

We’re on that new shyt
Black love on 3000
That some folks can’t
Get wit
We don’t live in boxes
Fluid, undefinable identifies
and I’m checking pansexual
Because our passion connects
To the intellectual
While our love births those


Aliens from Atlanta, Dallas and West Blocton
We three – a true southern concoction

of Futuristic Black love
on 3000

Find us in our spaceship
No rear view mirrors
Ain’t looking back while
We dip
Into the exosphere
So damn high, elevated
Clouds are miniscule beneath
Our feet
Our next lifetime is now
Breaking atmospheric beats
Loving, living, creating





No need for a player’s anthem
Ain’t nobody choosin
With these three bodies
Ain’t nobody losin
Because it’s love, love…

We’re just on that

Furturistic Black love
on 3000

He – She – and I
Capismini, Capismini.