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Unseeing

Where does the dehumanization of men begin to ensure the perpetuation of the patriarchy and do we even see it?

I saw him.

But quickly turned away-

from the tears that appeared oddly placed.

Proportions of strength mingled with unspoken fears,

Unfathered promises,

that broke through the makeshift shield of boldness.

I might have seen him there.

Lingering between becoming and failure,

Halting memories of

childhoods lost in the fires of being

a stoic shadow of self

a notion of boldness unrealized.

I couldn’t have seen him,

balancing expectation with

the weight of unearned priviliges,

falling under,

whimpering,

and weak?

I never saw.

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On Edges

Tracing the outlines of this edge,

I peruse the overlays of memories and

unfinished conversations over,

too many empty glasses-

numbness seeks response and yet,

the edge brings echos of safety,

carrying melancholy in a basket of

chronicles that pay tribute to the fallen

women that betrayed the path of freedom;

too soon and leaving many sisters

behind.

The edge beckons still,

mirroring dreams that picture the place where pain and ease

converse and

make love.

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Then mirrors, then men

shadowed moonlight visions I heard

the familiar downpour

always a hollow, almost terrified

shower.

morphed for a thousand and one years of suppression

between rock and the softness

of one set free in an unknown yet shackled way.

i heard but never found the leaking source in time

to perhaps embrace in the way sadness marries hopelessness

giving birth to a single way

forward that at times

promises a thing like

peacefulness.

i was lost most times-

between

the vision and the slippery slopes.

It is now, somewhere between

a past unfinished and a new moon

that I saw the many men crouched, as though in

meditation.

their cries as a melody of shattered mirrors grappling for a reflection

a conclusion of self, a climax of revelations

laid waste but sprouting still

And then the gong-

And then the silence.

mirror became steel again

and all stood upright in a fortitifude that embroidered

silence

around pain.

Dear Mother

Celebrating the greatness of those we have or have had the blessing to call “Mother”. What does Motherhood mean to you?

You are a balancing act

of both splendor and sacrifice.

With grace, you usher in life-

giving and giving,

running dry but giving still.

Do you consider the act of pillaging and taking what is rightly yours?

Sometimes. I am sure.

And yet, within the arc of your back you carry the world

effortlessly and with the understanding

of a world that divided itself

before it could allow your healing to take root.

Counting your dreams, you offer them up and

sing sweet melodies

that have raised up the very vultures

that appear at midday and midnight –

a perfectly timed destruction.

But mother,

I must still not understand and

somehow hope that we never will –

so we dream of whole selves that can fall

on occasion and

hand the bags to another

even for a short while.

Oh, Dear Mother.

grey

Listening now to the sound of the gong,

flowing through the membranes of loss,

of loss brought forward as a sacrifice to the gods,

to the gods of retribution who stand between the clear grey line of,

blackness meeting armed whiteness at the back of police vans,

of gunpowder and stolen voices– anchored unto the seams of the Atlantic,

of the Atlantic heavy with unborn child, clinging to the expanse of being and becoming,

of being and becoming in between the greyness of limitations that are both blinding as

they are obscure.

Listening now to the sound of the gong,

praying hope over the darkness of snatched nights, whispering mothers, walking over the edge,

over the edge of our dreams that lay beside us by day and haunt us as they lay beneath us, all too often.

All too often, do we find the greyness, unyielding,

but always

there

 

28 MORE Black Picture Books That Aren’t About Boycotts, Buses or Basketball (2018)

Redefining blackness starts here.

Scott Woods Makes Lists

When I made the first of these lists back in 2016 I had no idea the places it would go: Libraries, schools and families all over the world continue to share it even now, and I am humbled by its reception. I’ve long threatened to do a sequel to that list, so here it is. Same old librarian, all new tricks. Same rules apply:

1) Titles that came out within the last ten years (or so).
2) A spread in the gender of the protagonists.
3) Shine light on typically ignored aspects of black life. Nothing against history, but we aren’t exactly hurting for books on slavery. We could do with some more books about fishing, owning pets, and generally any other hobby children have. (That said, this list caught a lot more history than the last one.)

The books are not ranked in any way. Creator(s) are noted: Author/Illustrator.

View original post 1,261 more words

Tell me, Lover

AM I easy to love when I drop,

stoop-

into the whispers?

AM I easy to love when i close the blackness and roll

between the shapes of was and is?

AM I easy to love when i choose the easier reflections against the

loud chants of “as The Man”?

AM I easy to love when its more about the open, the opening

and the blindness within?

Tell me, lover.

Kudos to Macron: Why Europe’s colonialization of Africa is still relevant

The latest comments by French President, Emmanuel Macron concerning the African continent’s “civilizational problems” hints towards the same narrow and worrisome ideology that still pervades many discussions concerning African development and prosperity.

It’s such an easy and logical rationale, that many, even Africans themselves have internalized it and began to preach the gospel: Africa cannot, in fact, should not continue to use the history and legacy of European colonialism as a way to explain the widespread state of economic, social and political calamity experienced by most of the continent. Many of us today, feel ashamed, backward even, to begin distilling the horrific atrocities of colonial rule as a way to argue the continent’s current state of acute famine, disease, and poor or absent governance. And, yes, this should make a great deal of sense. After all, by the 1960’s most former colonies were celebrating independence. Viva a free Africa! well, maybe not entirely free but really, why does Africa even need to be totally independent?

The latest comments by French President, Emmanuel Macron concerning the African continent’s “civilizational problems” hints towards the same narrow and worrisome ideology that still pervades many discussions concerning African development and prosperity. Instead of starting from the root cause of the African development palaver, the continent is continuously bombarded with a bucket list of suggestions, reforms, and overpriced projects. Macron’s comments at the G20 Summit provide ample reason why unpacking and detangling the history of colonial rule in Africa is still a necessary step for progress to take place.  Simply put, the careless statement should not be dismissed but rather, analyzed as a prime example of the simplistic approach that Africa’s complex issues are often viewed by the West. And yes, throwing ‘millions of dollars of aid’ also falls into that category.  As the Guardian’s Eliza Anyangwe so eloquently notes, “Macron’s statements make the blood boil not because they are novel but because they make no mention of the root causes of the challenges of which the president speaks. Gone is the lucid, welcome admission that France’s role in its former colonies was anything but laudable.”

So, no Macron, you cannot get a gold star for stating that Africa’s problems are to do with a lack of civilization (which your people supposedly brought, all quite confusing, right?) or that we have too many babies (which is done out of a need to survive, rather than our senseless desire to copulate). Such simplistic comments demonstrate the Western world’s lack of accountability and respect for the African continent. Most importantly, they tell us, as African people that de-colonialization still needs to happen both physically and mentally. We cannot argue that away, we simply need to deal with it.

p.c: http://bit.ly/2vkrZOR

 

ImmiGrant Diaries: The 67 Bus

The 67 bus would be leaving in exactly 5 minutes, no, rather in 4 minutes and 50 seconds. Although my shift had ended over a half hour ago, I was expected to continue work until the second shift (a.ka. Bimpe) arrived. Bimpe was a joy to be with but never really caught on about the importance of punctuality. “Ore miiiiii, ma binu naaaa, you know that yeye boss of mine at my second job never allows me to leave on time. Only God will help us in this America o! Excuses and apologies were synonymous in Bimpe’s world. Of, course, she didn’t go by the name Olabimpe at work, but rather, Josephine Reynolds, her expensive and also illegal, “Government name” as they had been dubbed amongst the African immigrants. I suddenly found myself musing over what my own government name would be: Catherine or perhaps Katherine-with-a-K Smith? no, that seemed to scream “yes, I am working illegally” way too loudly. How about Alison Roberts? hmmm…maybe a little more believable. I often liked to play the game of conjuring the most hilarious combination of names that I might get once I had put enough money together to purchase a government card. The game was amusing until I remembered, I didn’t actually have a say in any of it. 3 minutes until the 67 Bus and still no sign of Bimpe. 

“Where on earth is Ms. Josephine Reynolds?!” “I…errr..sir..” “No excuse Ms. Ayodimeji! Always late! No more job for Josephine after tonight. No show, no job!” My manager, Mr. Ali, was perpetually angry. In my six years, mopping up and washing dishes at The Asia Food Palace, I had never seen the man smile. That’s not to say he was never in high spirits or dare say, happy, Mr. Ali was just angrily happy. However, I had decided a few years back that I liked Mr. Ali. He was in every literal sense of the word-a slave driver but the man was honest. He always paid wages and bills on time and in full, never once missing on monthly payments. The Asia Food Palace wasn’t much, a corner restaurant that served cheap inauthentic “Asian delicacies” which translated to oil-saturated spring rolls and diabetes-inducing sweet and sour chicken. But Mr. Ali had kept the business afloat for the last twenty-five years, and single-handedly for that matter. At one time, there were rumors that by night, The Asia Food Palace became an illegal drugs transaction point but I had waved off such comments as pure jealousy and the need to dismiss what could only be attributed to hard work and determination to succeed as a brown male in a white America.

30 seconds to go and still no Bimpe. Just as Mr. Ali stormed out of the kitchen still ranting, I caught a glimpse of the 67 bus, pulling into the bus stop by The Asian Food Palace. Shit, not again. Within seconds, the bus was on its way again. “Ore o!! I am here- if you know how bad traffic was ehn” a breathless and perspiring Bimpe rushed into the restaurant kitchen. “Bimpe, you’ve made me miss my bus, again. And Mr. Ali is seriously vexed” “Forget, Mr. Ali, isn’t he always vexed? abegi.” I shouldn’t have waited for an apology but I always did. “I’m off, Bimpe” “Thanks, ore! Let me get into this uniform before Mr. Ali kills me for my children”

Stepping out of The Asia Food Palace, I felt the cool but chilly breeze sweep my face. Winter was approaching. I pulled my Good Will-obtained H&M denim jacket closer to my body. The jacket was in great condition apart from the fact that it was missing a few buttons and had a visible hole by the right sleeve. “Holes are in fashion, jare!” was Bimpe’s response when I had complained about the visible wear and tear of the jacket. Without enough cash to call a taxi and having missed the last 67 bus, the only other option was to walk the 12 miles. I felt my phone ring and could only decipher that it was a call from home: Mama calling about Kola’s school fees again. There was no money and no prospects of me having any to send so the conversation would be fruitless. My fingers danced between the two options: “Decline” or “Answer”. I stuffed the phone back into my purse and headed down Lockford & 2nd Street. I would get back to them but just not now or tomorrow.

P.C: http://bit.ly/2uGKqOk

 

Kehinde

kennmackay-pair-of-yoruba-ibeji-figures-side

 

born of the illustrious ibeji, 

You have fallen between the two worlds.

Constructing a certain void that cushions reality-

taking the real from the unreal and creating

a melange of uncertainty,

of which you rest your mind

that once carried gourds of milk

to the ifa. 

Beautiful one, lagging behind the one-

Taiye –

who eagerly jets into the world.

Only to wish to return to the

womb and to re-begin the starting place

and to pause the finishing-

perhaps in order to erase

the chaos of being-

lifeless, life-filled, but yet

unformed, still.

But the metamorphosis,

is parallel in your eyes-

as you seek to delve deeper into the

thrusting waters of blank parchment, that sing:

bwerani, bwerani, bwerani kuno 

but yet, with one foot in

with the other unsure…unperturbed.

Kehinde, the lampost-

dimming with reflections of those forgotten

in the rebirth of timelessness.

 

pc: https://tfeanda.com/2015/09/02/tribal-art-fair/comment-page-1/