I am in this space of radical love and self-acceptance. In my devouring of the fire of Feminista Jones; the medicine at the shoulder, knee, yea, hands of Toni Morrison; … Continue reading MAY BOOK REVIEW: THIS WILL BE MY UNDOING by Morgan Jerkins
There is something to be said for being authentic and having the opportunity to grow. In the space crafted this month for revolutionaries, I had to put a spotlight on … Continue reading ‘This Is Not Your Daddy’s Civil Rights Movement’: Why Tef Poe Feels Like The Best Kept Secret
As a woman a faith, I have to remember the anchor scripture of the joy of the Lord is your strength. Things like gratitude journals have become buzz words and … Continue reading Your Life Should Be A Gratitude Journal
This work is not my own, but written by a Father Oracle, Langston Hughes (1902-1967). In keeping with the theme of this month, I thought this fitting. Let us be reminded that life is precious–and black children are entitled to know and see theirs are just as precious as anyone else’s.
When Kids Die
This is for the kids who die,
Black and white,
For kids will die certainly.
The old and rich will live on awhile,
Eating blood and gold,
Letting kids die.
Kids will die in the swamps of Mississippi
Kids will die in the streets of Chicago
Kids will die in the orange groves of California
Telling others to get together
Whites and Filipinos,
Negroes and Mexicans,
All kinds of kids will die
Who don’t believe in lies, and bribes, and contentment
And a lousy peace.
Of course, the wise and the learned
Who pen editorials in the papers,
And the gentlemen with Dr. in front of their names
White and black,
Who make surveys and write books
Will live on weaving words to smother the kids who die,
And the sleazy courts,
And the bribe-reaching police,
And the blood-loving generals,
And the money-loving preachers
Will all raise their hands against the kids who die,
Beating them with laws and clubs and bayonets and bullets
To frighten the people—
For the kids who die are like iron in the blood of the people—
And the old and rich don’t want the people
To taste the iron of the kids who die,
Don’t want the people to get wise to their own power,
To believe an Angelo Herndon, or even get together
Listen, kids who die—
Maybe, now, there will be no monument for you
Except in our hearts
Maybe your bodies’ll be lost in a swamp
Or a prison grave, or the potter’s field,
Or the rivers where you’re drowned like Leibknecht
But the day will come—
You are sure yourselves that it is coming—
When the marching feet of the masses
Will raise for you a living monument of love,
And joy, and laughter,
And black hands and white hands clasped as one,
And a song that reaches the sky—
The song of the life triumphant
Through the kids who die.
Black writers matter. The black experience in this nation cannot be accused of not having been recorded enough, spoken of enough, or analyzed enough. In the current climate of the … Continue reading When They Get Coates
Power is to whom you give it. There comes a time in this life where you will be forced to evaluate whom has power over you, and why.
Outside from the agencies whose existence is based in protection, there those in your life whom will try and tell you their intent is of a similar ilk.
This power, this influence, for the most part is wielded by people in your life whom only wish to see you win. It is wielded in benevolence, with courage and boldness to remind you of whom you are and can become.
However, more often than not this influence roots and lingers in under the beds Shakespeare says are crowded. This is from the people closest to us whom have seen us at a point of weakness–rather than helping us, they tell is what we did wrong, always do or will never do right.
They become evil sooth-sayers, casting hexes of discontent, bitterness, jealousy and apathy over all those in their pathways. They will tell you these things as if you have no concept of your own self. They have not lived a life or had experiences where someone celebrated them, wanted to celebrate them or denied their existence.
These people can only give you what they have: nothing.
Every day you choose whom you will become. Each day you are given holds the potential to be life-changing. I don’t say this as if the world around you does not present or beset you with unique problems. I say this because no matter how big the problem is, you will always be larger than the problem. You determine what you determine.
Some things spoken over you may be hurtful, disguised help or frank opinion. You do not have to accept this, even from from the people you know or love.
You don’t have to accept poison as medicine or influence as a Gospel. You determine what will steer your life–nothing and no one else.
I am fond of saying the first 18 years of your life may not be under your control, but the rest of your life is. Uprooting the weeds in the garden of your heart and head is never easy, I assure you. It took me a decade to get over what my father had said about me writing as a career.
What helped me what the feeling I had when I wrote. The attention I got as a I wrote and now that feeling could not be replicated by anything else.
Choose what you will listen to that will shape and empower you. All you are exposed to indeed shapes you. What does not add to you will only steal and a chief thieves of joy ads competition and envy.
What shall you become once you decide who it is you are?
In this life, the only thing you own, is you.
Today I meant to write about something uplifting, but that was before the onslaught of this week and the case of Cyntoia Brown.
For those unaware, see here for the complete article.
Twenty-nine-year-old Cyntoia Brown has been locked up in a Tennessee prison for 13 years, after she was convicted of first-degree murder and aggravated robbery in the killing of a man who hired her as a prostitute when she was 16.
At trial, Brown’s lawyers argued she was a runaway who was raped, abused and forced into prostitution by a man known as “Kut Throat.” She will be eligible for parole after she turns 69.
I saw her documentary on her a few years ago and was astounded. The documentary was on YouTube. Before reading further, I suggest you view it.
I know you may be thinking this deviates from my topic of influence this month, but I assure you it doesn’t. Influence is only as potent or insidious as those who wield it. The more I looked at this story (before Kim Kardashian sent her lawyer after it), the more my heart grieved for her.
“Kut Throat” used his adult influence on a then 16 year old girl to force her into prostitution. In new millenium terms, we would call this sex trafficking.
He sold a 16-year-old girl for sex to the highest bidder. He put a child in an adult position by sheer force of will–ergo ill influence.
After she was violated by all these paying monsters, “Kut Throat” pimped her. A John took her to his home to have sex with her. When she thought she was reaching for a gun, she shot and killed him. She took his guns and whatever money he had and ran.
Now, should she have killed him?
Was he going to let her go?
We will never know.
The dirty fact is this: she did what she had to in order to live. With all she had endured, all Kut Throat did to her, on top of her life before the pimp found her–Is unbelievable. However, this nation likes its black girls docile or ratchet. Controllable and predictable or whorish and savage.
The favorite is the silent, suffering mammy.
The incredible thing? She now wants to use all that has happened to her to help everyone whom will listen. She wants to tell what happened to her so that the same trick that trapped her will not ensnare someone else.
Now, the third tier of this influence is the legal system–a system never designed to benefit or serve women, people of color or immigrants or the poor–God help you if you intersect any of these.
The legal system saw Cyntoia Brown like many of us see feral cats: Something for someone else to deal with and when dealing with them, do so harshly so there will be no others like those. The legal system decided her life was inconsequential and irredeemable in the face of all that had happened to her, so they decided to throw her away. The influence, the power and sway of the rule of law, let those in power do as the mob wished with her.
There has been new effort for her release and I am overjoyed. She deserves a chance at life and to impart and yes, to live. If all you own in this life is you, then whom are other folk to tell you whom you are or the limits of what you can become?
Ms. Cyntoia Brown #410593
Tennessee Prison for Women
Unit 1 West, D-49
3881 Stewarts Lane
Nashville, TN 37218