black girls.

those loud black girls
those loud
black
girls.
aggressive, confrontational
loud, black girls.
depicted by
white-washed
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
threatening
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
oppressively.
because those loud
black girls
must be taught
to respect
authority
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
but
those loud black girls.

“are you okay, sis?”

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

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Untitled…

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

THUG.

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.

Contemptuously.

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

abound

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

nurtured,

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.

 

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.

 

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.

when

still, there has been no liberty.

only death.

 

Peace.

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

abound

when black and brown faces rage

standing obstinate

wavering not to exhaustion.

[not] appealing to reason.

[not] seeking humbly

nor supplicating entreaties.

because

black and brown folks been calm.

and peaceful.

before anger raged.

before suffering incited.

we were peaceful.

 

we, too, want.

and Demand.

Peace.

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.

 

 

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

SpottieOttieDopaliscious

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

Exactly

How

We

Pleeeeaaaaase.

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.

Notes on Father’s (and Mother’s) Day…

I must admit, I always have to check the calendar to know when Father’s Day is approaching. It’s one of those holidays that I never spent much time celebrating. As a child, I looked forward to Mother’s Day. In school, we’d always create some artsy, awkward gift for our mothers. And Ma would smile like we’d given her the best gifts ever. I don’t remember what we did for Father’s Day. And I’m sure that my teachers organized some type of Father’s Day arts and crafts lesson, but it’s likely that I shied away from participation. As I’ve grown older, I approach Father’s Day with uncertain trepidation. Some years, I celebrated by purchasing a gift for my mother. Other times I’ve thought about sending my father a card but could never justify doing so. This year, I did neither. No gift for my mother; no thoughts of cards for my father. Ironically, I dreamt of him the night before Father’s Day and figured that was the Universe’s way of saying that he still resides in my emotional blind spot. I’m okay with that.

It’s not that I never knew great fathers. I had a god-father. I had uncles. I had a father-figure in my sister’s father. I knew fathers in the church. I have friends who are fathers. I had a husband who is now a great father to our son and my step-son. But I didn’t have my father, not with any consistency. He was there sometimes. I recall an instance when he came to a basketball game with me. I recall him taking me to eat once. I recall him taking my sister and me to play once. There might be other subdued memories, but the immediate recollections are minimal. So many of the lessons that stereotypically gendered notions of fatherhood would have us believe are taught to children by a male were actually taught to me by a female – my mother. My mother was the one who attempted to scare away the boys and tell me what they really wanted. My mother was the one who taught me the proper questions to ask when taking my car to be serviced. My mother was the one who taught me how to do yard work. And had I gotten married in a traditional ceremony, it would have been my mother to walk me down the aisle. So in my eyes, she deserved those gifts on Father’s Day – and any other day.

Purchasing a gift for my mother on Father’s Day or celebrating her on that day had very little to do with my father’s absence and more to do with her presence. Yet, social media would have us believe that celebrating mothers on Father’s Day – or doing the opposite when applicable – is in some way about discrediting good fathers. Unfortunately, that’s what happens when social media intersects with commercialism and the hurt in emotional blind spots. Celebrating mothers is in no way a denouncement of fathers; similarly, celebrating fathers is in no way a reflection on mothers. Parenting is not a competition and should not be viewed dichotomously.

My initial plan was to avoid my Facebook feed on Father’s Day, but I gave in to the curiosity and scanned my friends’ pages. I was glad to see that there were just as many positive posts about fathers as there were about mothers on Mother’s Day. I smiled at each of the pictures of my friends with their fathers, particularly my female friends with their fathers. (This reminded me that I don’t have any pictures of my father and me when I was a child and only two pictures during adulthood.) I saw very few, if any, “father-bashing” posts. I did, however, see posts reminding women that we could never be fathers because we aren’t men. I saw posts stating that many single-mothers were bitter about the fathers of their children because the relationships ended. I even saw posts stating that the mothers shouldn’t complain about the fathers’ absences because the mothers should have chosen better men to father their children. I saw posts suggesting that the mothers likely were the reasons some fathers are not in the child’s or children’s lives. And most of these posts were by women and liked by women.

Based on individual reality, there could some truth to those posts. However, there’s a lot that could be unpacked within each of those statements. Fatherhood as a gendered concept, the reality of unresolved hurt, and the implication that making choices and maintaining a father’s presence is solely the responsibility of the mother are but a few troubling assumptions that require a more in-depth discussion than could be teased out in a blog. But the understanding of individual realities seemed to be missing from many of the posts. Some women may find the angst of Father’s Day difficult to understand – women who are married/partnered and whose husbands/partners father their children; women who were parented by fathers; women who are no longer married/partnered but whose ex-husbands/partners father their children. While I make no assumption here that all women that fall into these categories are unable to understand the difficulty of Father’s Day for some women who cannot identify with either of the categories, I argue that the individual experience is such that none of us can be the omnipotent social media therapist and jolt women into our version of reality. None of us can force a parent (as in mother or father) or child to forgive. None of us can heal the hurt by subliminally chastising folks in a social media post. None of us can do that. This blog won’t do that.

I have been a mother who was single; yet, I felt that I belonged to a parenting community. I was raised by a community of mostly women, but always respected and understood the need for fathers. I, too, have explored my own unresolved emotions and did the work to get to a point of peaceful indifference (And even the word ‘indifference’ suggests that there is more work to be done.). I don’t resent my father. I don’t resent his absence. I reconciled that I must have been in his parenting blind spot for his own reasons. That is not within my control. However, what is in my control is continuing to do the work to nurture wholeness for myself. I hope that we, as a parenting community will continue to do the same. Let’s resist the urge to keep a parenting tally. Let’s resist the urge to throw mothers and fathers (and all those who exist in the margins of those categories) into the ring to face-off, sparring for points. When we do that, the winner can be contested but the loser is easily identified. Children lose when we concern ourselves with capitalism’s hold on celebrating those who have loved us. Children lose when we fail to do the emotional work. Children lose when we fail to co-parent. Children lose when we isolate mothers and fathers into Westernized sociological norms, when our ancestry of parenting is centered on love and holistic realization of self for the child. Children lose when we become so engulfed in our own stuff that we forget about the children.

I’m always one for bucking tradition. So next year maybe I’ll ignite a celebration for Parents Day or Love Day. Because really…children need parents and love – and neither of those is bound by stereotypes, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, etc.

Dear Ebony: Let’s Celebrate Black LGBTQ Love, Too…

I spent a portion of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday randomly thumbing through books and magazines at Barnes and Noble. In the book section, I photographed the covers of several books to add to my ever-increasing ‘to read’ list. I moved to the magazine section and my eyes were drawn to Ebony magazine’s February issue with a picture of the beautiful couple Carmelo and La La Anthony on the cover. I grabbed the magazine and noticed that there were two other covers available with couples Nick Cannon and Maria Carey and David and Tamela Mann. The theme of the issue was ‘Celebrating Black Love’. Okay Ebony. I’m with you. Let’s celebrate Black Love.

Black Love - Nick Cannon and Mariah Carey, Carmelo and La La Anthony, and David and Tamela Mann

Tucked away in the back of the magazine between a Nelson Mandela tribute and photo from the Ebony archives were the stories of the three couples previously mentioned. ‘Love, Actually’, ‘Through the Fire’, and ‘All-Star Romance’ were celebratory pieces that examined the business and marital success of the Cannon-Carey duo; highlighted the 25 years and going strong marriage of the Mann’s; and debunked the perception that all male professional athletes aim to be womanizers as readers were exposed to how Carmelo Anthony decided very young and very quickly that he wanted his friend La La Vasquez to be his wife. Yes, these articles did indeed celebrate Black Love.

Following the last story is more celebration of Black Love as Ebony’s ’10 Sexiest Couples’ were included in a pictorial. These couples included Nicole Murphy and Michael Strahan, Amar’e and Alexis Stoudemire, Viola Davis and Julius Tennon, Lebron James and Savannah Brinson James, Kimberly Jackson and Ice Cube, Solange Knowles and Alan Ferguson, Steve and Marjorie Harvey, Ciara and Future, Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Josiah Bell, and Brandy and Ryan Press. Again, Ebony scored with these couples in different stages of their relationships. This pictorial was yet another celebration of Black Love.

But wait. I flipped through the Black Love section again and looked feverishly for some diversity. Yes, Black Love is diverse love, so where is the diversity, Ebony? Where are the ‘non-traditional’ representations of Black Love? Where are the LGBTQ couples? Yessss, there are Black LGBTQ folks out here loving on one another in healthy ways. So why were none of these couples included in this celebration of Black Love? [Don’t worry. I’ll wait.]
Before I got too hyped about this exclusionary heteronormative celebration of Black Love [yes, it became all that in my mind], I combed through the magazine looking for professions of Black Love. Voila! I found the ‘Love and Relationships’ section where Claire McIntosh compiled stories on maintaining the spark and building romance. I read each of the 23 stories exploring the Four R’s – Rites of Passage, Rituals, Routines, and Retreats. Presumably, not one of the stories included a LGBTQ couple. [Of course, the disclaimer here is that there was limited background on the couples, but the names and use of his/her pronouns suggested these were all heterosexual couples.]

Since 1945, Ebony has promoted the experiences of Black people in an affirming manner. It has been a beacon for addressing political, educational, cultural, religious, financial, relationship, and identity issues in the Black community. In recent years, Ebony has expanded its audience by providing more emphasis on the issues for Black LGBTQ individuals. Just last year, there were at least eight articles or letters focused on the LGBTQ community – Pride, Workplace Inequality, a Welcome Home Letter, Black LGBT Pioneers, Kwanzaa, and Coming out to Family. And yes, there were two articles on Black LGBTQ Love – Rashad Burgess and Bishop Oliver Clyde Allen III (and their daughter) were included in the ‘Coolest Black Family in America’ and the wedding of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity members Robert Brown and Nathanael Gay were celebrated. These are great examples of Black LGBTQ Love.

Noting the previous examples, it is not my suggestion that Ebony is consistently exclusionary in its celebration of Black Love. However, it is my concern that Ebony is NOT consistently inclusionary in its celebration of Black Love – and that’s a serious issue. Black LGBTQ couples should not be celebrated only when perceived as unique. [The article on the Burgess-Allen couple noted the two were ‘revolutionary’ and ‘ardent innovators’, likely due to their commitment to one another and religious convictions; and many perceived the wedding of Brown and Gay to be unique in part due to their membership in a traditionally Black fraternity.] Black LGBTQ couples are not anomalies and the scattered inclusion of said couples suggests otherwise.

In the 2015 ‘Celebrate Black Love’ issue, I hope Ebony will begin the practice of being consistently inclusionary. While there is limited ‘out’ representation of Black LGBTQ Love among Black celebrities, those couples do exist. Consider adding Monifah Carter and Terez Mychell or Janet Mock and Aaron Tredwell to the list. Lee Daniels, Meshell Ndegeocello, RuPaul, etc. are In addition, Lewis Duckett and Billy Jones, who married last year after being together for 46 years, might not be Hollywood celebrities but they are the epitome of long-lasting Black Love.

It’s time to celebrate Black Love in its many forms. Ebony, you have the platform and the voice to remind readers that Black Love is Lesbian Love, Gay Love, Bisexual Love, Transgendered Love, and Queer Love. Black Love is Love, Actually – and Unconditionally.

Eclectic GRITS

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