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

 

Metamorphosis

Chances fall down as we circle the forgotten
days that once existed as long held breaths.
Holding on to bruised visions and
solemn prayers.
Hope has been shining in the glimmering prophesies
that promised refuge.
Refuge for the past we did not tred,
for the future that the waves brought
ashore much too soon.
For our memories that lingered between sheets
but did not think to bring honey
to stick on to the parchment of our hearts.
Now our fragility sits upon the moutain of the aged youth,
mounted and subdued.
Here we are,
Arriving to yesterday’s blues
but forgetting the tune,
once again.

From A Far Away Place

I see the dimming lights in their eyes,

the finality-

of something often,

of something close,

of something cherished,

of something forgotten.

There is futility in attempting to put these pieces together,

But I am drawn to it–

this exercise in impossibility.

I’ve dreamt of the paths untrodden,

that they might have missed to reach this  place

of unfounded dreams and unspoken hopes.

To label this failure would be too easy.

Politics of Black Hair (part 2): Social Regulation of Black Hair Texture

This piece, on the social regulation of black hair is the second part of my Politics of Black Hair series that was featured in the Earlham College student-run newspaper.

Historically, Black hair has frequently earned a reputation of being “unruly” and “unmanageable” with specific focus on it’s oftentimes kinky texture. It is such labels that aided the development and dependency of many black women upon hair chemicals (a multi-million dollar industry1 ) that promised the popular and socially accepted Eurocentric ideal of “good hair”, albeit temporarily. Perpetuation of ideas on what “good hair” must look like and how far black hair is from this idea, has worked to produce much of the social bias that many black people face within the workplace, school and in daily interactions.

Although the natural hair movement, has helped to sensitize and draw awareness about the beauty of black hair, there are still inherent problems with the way black hair texture is viewed. Because acceptable hair texture has often leaned towards the Eurocentric ideal, hair that could at least somehow “pass” as mirroring or attempting to mirror this Eurocentric ideal has usually been accepted within societies, both black and white. In Chris Rock’s 2009 documentary, Good Hair, we are taken into the complex and oftentimes expensive world of Black hair care and the lengths at which black people must be prepared to go, in order to achieve a socially acceptable image of themselves and more specifically, of their hair. Although the natural hair movement, has helped to sensitize and draw awareness about the beauty of black hair, there are still inherent problems with the way black hair texture is viewed. Because acceptable hair texture has often leaned towards the Eurocentric ideal, hair that could at least somehow “pass” as mirroring or attempting to mirror this Eurocentric ideal has usually been accepted within societies, both black and white.

Regulation of Black hair in the workplace is one of the most blatant forms of discrimination against people of color but also against the natural state of Black hair. In their opinion editorial entitled, “When Black Hair Is Against the Rules2 ” (2014), Ayana Byrd and Lori L.Tharps, authors of “Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America” (2001) demonstrate how the US Army’s decision to revise its appearance and grooming policy, disproportionately affected Black women and their hair. The 2014 policy was said to “refer to hairstyles like cornrows, braids, twists and dreadlocks” while “severely limiting or banning them outright.” Specific language within the policy also referred to these styles as “matted” and “unkempt.”3 Although the policy has since been revised, such action conveys a clear message to black people: The US Army will not accept your natural as it is, alter it or prepare to face the consequences. Perhaps the greatest tragedy of all is that social regulations on Black hair are perpetuated by Black and White people alike, who staunchly believe in the inherent inferiority of black hair. However, the best-kept secret still remains: Black hair should not need reform, rather it is the unhealthy ideals of Eurocentric beauty, unequal racial structures and power dynamics that need to be abolished.

 

On this seemingly fruitless journey, we have been waiting.

Haltingly going neither backwards nor upwards-

Floating between the intermediary of who we dreamed  to become

and

that which our reflections mockingly produce.

we make gods of our bodies

and starve passion through the unwritten literature of our souls.

we are searching,

searching perhaps for that which we lost long before this journey began.

searching greater still, for that which our hands have not formed

nor our minds fathomed.

And They tell us-

that we are dreaming larger than we can become-

Because becoming has never been

in our power-

 

Black Gold

I am Black Gold

They try to crack the ridges

And ends of my being

but my armor is impermeable.

They try to sing my freedom songs

And buy my history.

I am Black Gold

My calloused memory

Retains the path of my ancestors

Whipped and raped

Forced to grovel

But continuing to rise.

I am Black Gold

They try to resist the flowers that bloom within me

Telling me there is no place for my beauty

Rejecting my roots

And defining my identities

While erasing my mother tongue.

I am Black Gold

They teach me to walk straight

To tilt my hat

To hide my colors

But to open my legs

And to always keep my mind shut.

I am Black Gold

Sold by my brothers

Who saw their reflections in the mirrors

But did not see the evil of their ways

Who prayed to a God of a color

That bore no resemblance to their own

I am Black Gold

I stand tall and break free

I have found my way home

In the belly of the Niger River

I found love in the blackness

And I have made peace with it all.

The mourning Women

I hear them in quiet moments.

These women with their mourning songs-

So hauntingly beautiful,

So hollow and wide

but always reaching my spirit in it’s darkest depths.

I sometimes call out to them to stop.

Knowing however, that I want nothing of the sort.

These women whose wails have created more life

and pleasure than can be comprehended.

They carry their mourning songs sewn and wrapped across their hearts.

These women with calloused hands that have cultivated and uprooted their hopes

and have faithfully watered the ego’s of pot-bellied husbands.

These mourning Women with their distant looks

and forgotten stories.

I have seen them many times before

in mirrors of the past and echos of the future

I shut my eyes and try to paint a lighter reflection-

one that demands less of my being.

She appears again, silent at first

And then her mourning song begins.

Our Intermediary

And where did we come from?

We have brought our love to the alter of Zion.

Praying that the spirits of our Abiku will rise again.

We whisper forgotten prayers into the imaginations of our future,

Clasping hope to the unknown,

perhaps we waited too long.

For the bang,

the scream,

the jolt,

back into,

what was never in our power.

Along the lines of truth

And they keep telling me: my Black is beautiful.

As though this new revelation should surprise me.

Shock me, into

appreciating my existence, and to be grateful for my borrowed space.

and time.

How do they know I do not bow to my temple of blackness daily?

and pay homage often to the struggles whitened out in history texts?

They encourage me to accept my wide heavy hips and thick thighs.

They speak in weak tones of expression of inner beauty and imitations of color blindness,

Who are these that dictate what my reflections should sing?

Those who trap my stories in a box

Those who describe me as one thing.

One beautiful Black thing.

Why should i be defined, aligned and understood?

they teach me to know myself, while

always fearing i will recognize the lies behind their borrowed truths

and hand-woven sermons

Having produced an image of me that they find palatable and comfortable,

they clip my wings and demand i soar.