The Mic Is Open. And I’m On It: Brother, Can We Talk?

And just like that, 2014 is here. With it, I – like many others – have made the promise to be better, do better, live better. With this promise come all kinds of lofty goals and plans – and fear. Fear that I won’t be better. Fear that I won’t live my truth. Fear that I won’t be successful at achieving those lofty goals. Nevertheless, I will wake up every morning with the best intentions of being, doing, and living better.

One of my goals is to write, write, and write. I received a Facebook message prior to the end of the year that reminded me of how the Universe knows our gifts and sends us messages when we’re not using them. The message read:

“So when I woke up this morning my very thought was of you. And my thought was to tell you to write. And when you think you can’t write anymore…write some more. Don’t ask because I don’t know lol. All I know is that every life changing, life altering thought and decision has come in the morning and this morning it was you. Personally, I believe you will change the world with your writing. It’s powerful and moving and all the things we need in this world. So go write.”

The affirming words of this message encouraged and humbled me. Even as I retyped the message into this blog, I couldn’t help but shed a tear. (Yes, even I cry occasionally.) A few days after I received this message, my partner and I held a NYE party at our home and were thankful to have all kinds of creative friends present. Our guests blessed us with their voices and lyrics, through song and spoken word. I added a few haikus here and there. And it was at that party, among the food, drinks, and fabulous friends that I knew I had to get back to writing and back to my first loves – poetry and spoken word.

I have stage fright. Yes, I know I’ve been in stage plays and have performed spoken word in the past, but I have stage fright – and imagining the audience naked doesn’t help. There is no stage on my blog, but I can pretend in order to move beyond the fright. So picture my living room as the stage – transformed: Warm shades of brown, orange, green, and yellow. Buddha, African dancers and masks, and Bob Marley on the walls. Small adornments of candles and bamboo plants. My Christmas tree still standing in the corner and the bookshelf as the backdrop with some of my favorite authors whispering “You got this” from the shelves. Nikki Giovanni. Jill Scott. bell hooks. Alice Walker. Audre Lorde. Tupac. Zora Neale Hurston. Rebecca Walker. Angela Davis. Baba Asa Hilliard. And my Donny Hathaway ‘Greatest Hits’ CD, unopened, looks over my shoulder. I take center stage. The mic is open…and I’m on it.

Hostess:

Tonight, we’d like to bring to the stage an artist who describes herself as an “Afrolezfemcentric/Black feminist mother, educator, writer, poet, eclectic Southern Belle.” This artist is a Bama Belle and an imported Peach with a passion for life and love. I know she’ll bring the heat for us. It’s been a minute since she’s been on stage, so ya’ll be nice. So without further delay, I give you Qiana, Nilah Monet, Eclectic GRITS.

Applause, snaps and whistles. [I take the stage.]

Eclectic GRITS:

Who in the hell said
All the Southern Belles were White girls?
Ya’ll can kiss my GRITS.

How ya’ll doing? [Aight…] Good. Ya’ll aight? So that’s a little haiku that I love. Uhm..this piece is about Black women. And Black men. And the disconnect. [Whispers…] Wait, wait. Ya’ll hear me out. I paid attention to US in 2013. Black women were under attack at every turn, and no, it wasn’t always by Black men. But when Black men came for us, they came hard. And that hurts. A post on Facebook from a Black male indicating that he felt “bad for Barack” because, according to this gentleman, Michelle Obama scowls – and therefore, she must be the angry black woman, right? Rick Ross put something in our drinks (and we didn’t even know it). Nelly wanted to kick our ass. Those are just a few examples, and I just knew that 2014 would be better. But the messy comments of Chuck Smith on Sunday night’s episode of ‘Real Housewives of Atlanta’ and yesterday’s Internet buzz about Dr. Samori Swygert’s vision of femininity for Black females – a vision that basically translated to “Woman, your ass should be more submissive. Cook, clean, look pretty, and be quiet.” – reminded me that Black women are still under attack. Well, Dr. Swygert and all of my brothers…I have a vision for Black men.

Eh-hem…

bell hooks (2004) wrote:
“Black women cannot speak for black men.
We can speak with them” (p. xvii).
And with that thought in mind,
Brother, I want you to listen.
I’m not claiming to have your struggle.
But I do know your pain.
Proverbially free men
Realistically enchained.
But
No keys do I hold.
No prisons do I keep.
So you gotta understand
That your fight ain’t with me.

Your fight ain’t with me.

I’ve been your anchor
Your ‘round the way girl’
Holding you up when you fall
The calm in your world.
When you’re wandering aimlessly
I guide you home.
And feed you
And clothe you
And love you
And cry for you
when you roam.

I birth your sons and daughters
I boost your self-esteem
And all I’m asking for
Is my rightful place as your Queen.
Yes, I turn tricks for you.
Immaturely fight other chicks for you.
And when you leave me stranded
I raise your kids for you.

See, this is about intimacy.
Not about sex.
No heteronormative assumptions
Just reciprocation at best.
This patriarchal society
Repeatedly
Deals me blows to the face.
We are one in the same.
Like you, I’m trying to find my place.
Carve out a space where my spirit
Can thrive and my love can grow
Dissecting this metaphysical dilemma
Of being a Black woman
Is all that I know.
I’m Hottentot’d
And Sapphire’d
And Welfare Queen’d
And Jezebel’d
I’m that neck rolling, loud talking
Angry Black Bitch…
That’s all they can tell.
That’s what they see.
But you should be my solace.
Because I hope you understand
That your fight ain’t with me.

Your fight ain’t with me.

My vision for you
Is a vision for us.
I want you to love me.
Like unconditionally…
Immensely…
Without restraint.
Love me
When my actions aren’t true.
If I turn to you for support
Hold me up
Like I do for you.
Don’t be so quick
To point out my flaws
To pen the stereotypes of me
In your lyrics and blogs
Be my shield, my protector.
When I’m being stoned from all sides.
Be my shoulder, my comforter
Kiss the tears when I cry.

Your expectations of me are great
And to them I’ll rise.
But I have to deal with the world’s oppression
You should be the last
To contribute to my demise.

Brother, I love you.

Our existence is challenged.
Our freedom ain’t free.
You’ve always gotten acceptance
When you’re defeated
And come to me.

So please realize…

No keys do I hold.
No prisons do I keep.
You must understand
That your fight ain’t with me.

Your fight ain’t with me.

Applause, snaps and whistles. [Thank you]

Qiana

Nilah Monet

Eclectic GRITS

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14 responses to “The Mic Is Open. And I’m On It: Brother, Can We Talk?

  1. *snaps* *snaps* and more *snaps*! You said that! Your writing alwaysssss takes me to a place of ‘UTOPIA’ where I imagine life as you spit it😉

  2. Snap snap snap!!! I feel like im in the bar on Love Jones… This was AMAZING!!!! I love how u start off with your introduction and the more I was reading the more I could feel your words wrapping around me and was stuck in a trance!!! I didn’t want to blink as i was reading!! This is the motivation I need!!! Bravo Dr. Q!!’ Bravo!! I salute u!! ✊

  3. I sit there in complete awe barely getting my fingers to snap loud enough, so I stand and begin clapping. I am sure I looked like Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor movie as he sits at the table, clapping and shouting “Hercules, Hercules.” Standing solus, it seemed as the spotlight was now on me. Nilah Monet acknowledges me with a big beautiful smile– just like a real Southern Belle. The crowd turns towards me as I scream out, “encore, encore!”

  4. Any black woman who has ever loved a black man can understand this piece…or at least it speaks to my experience. Applause. Snaps. Whistles.

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