#ReadMorePoetry #ConsiderTheWords 

Because I read more poetry I learned how to consider the words which has transformed my perspectives and granted me insight into the world I live in. I’m a poet and I Can Write A Poem Like This:

A black woman slaughtered
In the street– does she make a sound Black men
Aren’t outraged, Black women

Understand your silence-
A storm on deserted land, no body
bears witness to your “I”

#ConsiderTheWords Notice the punctuation, or the lack thereof. Notice where the lines end–the lines are composed of words. Focus on the words and how they are used to summon multiple specific thoughts, attitudes, ideals, concepts, experiences, facts, feelings, etc.  Notice how the words LOOK in tandem to how the SOUND. Consider the incongruency. All day, we write and see things that are incongruent, yet all day we somehow smooth out the anamolies…and we make a joke. We make a meme. We compose a clever tweet or facebook status. We pray. We laugh. We show our hearts in word in a status when we endure life. They prepared us for more math in the future…but they did not prepare us for more reading. More critical thinking based on what we can see EVERYDAY and understand. It’s how we survive.

Look at #BlackLivesMatter….that movement grows because we read it. We are so intelligent we understand things as concise and precise as “Black Lives Matter”. The words were chosen with intent. It was NAMING and calling attention to a SPECIFIC issue for a specific group of people in America. The Civil Rights Movement, in hindsight, was a little too broad. But it addressed a SPECIFIC issue at that SPECIFIC time. For some reason, in and before the 1960s, it was easier to understand that Black people were having different experiences than other Americans at a disproportionate rate.  The same thing is going on now. And it is still CIVIL RIGHTS. Yet, simultaneously it is HUMAN rights and that is to say AMERICAN rigbts. Clearly, and most obviously, all lives are important. All lives should be treated equally. Not based on skin color, religion, sexuality, sex, gender, fame, wealth, weight, age, physical appearance, level of education, criminal history, previous behaviors, city, state, county, million dollar home or project or trailer park or homeless shelter. All lives should be treated as valuable and worthy of reverence. No matter who they are or what they have done, but specifically when they are LAW abiding citizens. And “LAW abiding citizens” are determined by the law which functions on the premise that there is innocence until guilt is proven for all. That justice exists for all. But it does not. All lives matter! Duh. Black people are human enough and intelligent enough to understand that. We understand it so well that it goes unsaid. What Black people did decide to communicate, specifically, is that BLACK LIVES MATTER, too. Because the law does not seem to extend to us in the same way. Black Americans decided to speak out about what is affecting our community specifically at this point and time. The fact that, According to the law: every American citizen should be considered innocent until proven guilty, under the presumption that a FAIR trial will occur consisting of a judge, a jury, and two opposing attorneys representing the accused as well as the accuser. The thing the law does not consider, is the disproportionate distribution of power in a country composed of different cultures and backgrounds based on color, region, sex, gender, age, religious affiliation, level of education which often time depends upon where you live and your socioeconomic class, which is also based on prejudices, biases, judgments, behaviors, etc. that depend upon what we sense in relation to what we can and ARE willing to understand. 

We must read more. We, as a nation, must read more. #ReadMorePoetry focuses on poetry because poetry is an artform that manipulates language in a manner that reflects the state of being of the person, which reflects that person’s state of mind, which is influenced by that person’s genetics, experiences, observations and insights, which correlates (in some way) to the state of the union, that is to say the United States of America, which is our country. And our country is composed of many, many differing perspectives, cultures, and backgrounds. All of which can be broadened, hardened, or evolved, by education…which is also disproportionately distributed. Repeating history.

#ConsiderTheWords and you may be simultaneously considering the future you envisioned for yourself and your children. Study words like they try to get us to study math, history, literature, etc. Study the words that compose each subject. The words matter. The specific language used matters. Figure out the language then you figure out an equation that math may not have discovered yet. Don’t wait for someone to do the work for you. Do it yourself. You then graduate to “master” even if, to live, you have to do the work of a slave. You master your purpose in a manner that reflects your state of being, which reflects your state of mind, which is influenced by your experiences, observations and insights, which correlates to the state of the union, that is to say the United States of America, which is our country. And our country is composed of many, many differing perspectives, cultures, and backgrounds. All of which can be broadened, hardened, or evolved, by education…which is also disproportionately distributed. Repeating history.

#ReadMorePoetry. Read more journals, essays, articles, novels, plays, artist reviews, educational reviews, statistics, etc. Don’t wait to enroll in school. Don’t wait for someone to give you a syllabus. Start with what interests you and break away from your interests and challenege your thoughts with a concept or idea that calls a perception or behavior to question that you possess yourself.
Master your understanding of the various sub- languages existing in the English language then you become a force to be reckoned with in whatever career, extracurricular activity, hobby, craft, vocation, you choose.

Revelations 3-7-16

Y’all DO realize that you can leave if you are unhappy, right? That if that significant other isn’t treating you as if you’re significant and continues refusing to communicate about how you’ve been feeling, that you can disengage from that relationship? Primarily because that relationship is harming the peace that you deserve to have in your life.

You do realize that you are a whole person without another individual beside you? You are a full moon without the attentions of the sun. You rotate on your own axis. You attract the ocean. You bring both rest and unrest when night falls. You knew that, already? Didn’t you?

You do recognize that love doesn’t have to be bogged down by resentment and dishonesty? You have seen that constantly inflicting pain on a loved one can break a person? You don’t want that for yourself. You can’t. Because loving someone does not mean it’s healthy or desirable to allow yourself to be humiliated or unappreciated or mistreated by that same someone. You can love them and yourself enough to remove your head from that particular guillotine. You have to know you are powerful, you have to be. Simply because you are you. And that’s the one thing no one else can EVER be. If any particular person can’t perceive that and be moved by it then that particular person does not deserve your presence. They don’t deserve your loyalty and dedication. They don’t deserve your life. Take it back. Take back your life. It doesn’t have to be filled with hurt, negativity  and uncertainty.

Your life does not have to be draining or terrorizing or tear inducing. Not because of a man or woman in your house wreaking havoc with your sense of being. Not because of an individual who hasn’t considered your feelings in a ridiculous amount of time after you’ve cried your heart out to them explaining how their actions hurt you. Your life doesn’t have to replay these reruns. Your heart is not in syndication, there are no royalties to collect. Cancel the show. Write something new. Find a better, more gifted leading man or lady and make the show go on. Because y’all don’t have to love someone so much that you make your life harder than its already promised to be. You can stop that. No one else will.

Rakeem ‘OneVoice’ Person
UNCG Alumni
BA in Religious Studies
Minor in English

Calling A Spade A Diamond: RHOA Reflections

Reality TV snagged me in its intricate, drama filled, sticky web a few seasons ago. It started with watching with the roommates in college and now I keep watching to see where it goes for a little mindless entertainment. But, enough, with the defense of my partiality to the RHOA franchise.

On the most recent episode of Real Housewives of Atlanta (airing 12-20-15), the girls go to Miami to do a do-over of a celebration for Cynthia Bailey who was having some marital problems. The girls unite and try to forget the craziness of the last gathering. On this particular excursion, while living it up the ladies encounter the nephew of one of the participants, Tammy (Cynthia’s friend), and his side kick as well as a love interest for Porsha.

Once everyone is back in the elaborate house they were residing in for the trip things became a little hectic. Tammy’s nephew, Glen, was a major part of the sudden turn in the wrong direction.

The infamous Kenya Moore assisted in a prelude to the young man’s unraveling by trying to get his attention earlier in the day by addressing him by the not-so-classy nickname, ‘Young Buck’ while snapping her fingers. His response was not the most articulate but it was understandable given her less than respectful attempt to get his attention. Glenn’s response was something along the lines of, “I know damn well you ain’t snap your fingers at me.” A boundary was set. Things smoothed over, superficially, and the night progressed to the house.

Everyone was “chillin, relaxin all cool” in the pool area while Kim Fields and Kandi Burruss were lounging away from the rest of the motley crew who settled in the hot tub. Glenn approached Kandi, who is about ready to pop with new life, and congratulated her on her pregnancy. Kandi gave a simple, noncommittal, “Thank you” and Glenn perceives her response as at-ti-tude and joins everyone else in the hot tub again after popping off at her. Kandi was left a bit bewildered at his less than gentlemanly reaction to her appropriate “thank you”.

The night continues and Kenya recognizes that Glenn is a little aggressive and it begins to make her feel uncomfortable, reasonably so. What the ladies did not hear or see, was Glenn speaking to his friend saying things along the lines of “These hoes this and that” and “None of these hoes better not disrespect me” and so forth.

Kenya and Kandi compare notes and agree that the guy was behaving a bit irrationally and Kenya, looking in the best interest of her guests and herself, decided that maybe he should leave. She speaks to his aunt, Tammy, and explains that he has made them feel uncomfortable and thinks it best that he make his exit for the night.

As they are leaving, it appears that Glenn is curious as to why he’s being asked to leave. Kenya explains, yet again, that his behavior so far wasn’t conducive to the atmosphere of this little get away. She did so calmly and rather respectfully, for a change.

And here is where things take that proverbial turn for the worst. Glenn moves toward Kenya calling her a “lil bitch” and talking a whole bunch of nonsense. Security steps in and Glenn kicks it up a notch, still trying to get to Kenya through the security. Tammy somehow gets in his path and next thing we know, Tammy is on the ground due to an indiscriminate shove from her nephew. Finally, security earns their pay and secures the situation.

The ladies begin to recollect themselves and it becomes evident that Phaedra Parks, Sheree Whitfield, and a few others feel that Kenya somehow incited the volatile situation. A separate scene with Phaedra has her recalling a moment with Mike Brown’s mother and she discusses with one of the ladies the trials of being a Black man and how Black men are constantly seen as aggressive and waterworks follow.

Let me first say that Phaedra was coming in from the far left field with her sentiments and her concern for her own sons in comparison to Glenn’s actions. The violence against unarmed Black men by officers of the law is in no way related to the contained violence that ensued once Glenn was asked to leave. The men and women who have been assaulted or worse by law enforcers were in the hands of the law, for better or for worse, and ended up dead or close to death due to the actions of those who are supposed to serve and protect.

Glenn, from the moment he entered the scene, was a wild card. He didn’t seem to know how to communicate effectively without intimidation tactics and strong language. The attitude he attributed to Kandi had his name all on it instead. He called a Spade a Diamond essentially.

What bothered me, and what essentially inspired me to write this post, is how a few of the ladies were so ready to defend the young man at the expense of Kenya who (this time at least) was acting in the best interest of all those present. Granted, Kenya has been ‘extra’ in previous episodes and has been ready to throw people out for instances of perceived shade and tomfoolery (I guess she has been watching Bon Qui Qui as of late). This instance, however, was completely different.

I’ve seen posts from lovely Black women who write about how Black women often times support and defend Black men yet feel the reciprocity is a bit lacking. Black Lives Matter was founded by a Black woman. Black women have been at the forefront of organizing protests and also taking on the role of foot soldiers within those protests. Women like Sandra Bland have also been faces of Black Lives Matter, but so far it has been predominantly male faces spoken of  despite the fact that there have been many Black women who have fallen victim to the abuse of authority by police. For Phaedra to see her sons in Glenn perplexes me. I imagine that she is raising her children to be respectful to women and people in general. I imagine that she is teaching them how to use their words and to resort to violence (verbal and/or physical) as a last resort instead of the first response. Young Glenn behaved in complete opposition to such lessons.

This situation highlighted what many of my fellow writers have been stating in their compositions which is; Black women support the hell out of Black men yet a percentage of Black men don’t seem to give a damn about their mothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, friends, daughters, etc. who have to face the world everyday as a Black woman in a world that constantly seeks to undermine and disrespect them at every turn. And yet, Black women will still go to bat for their counterparts even at the expense of a fellow Black woman. Even when that Black man is behaving erratically.

Kenya is a bit much at times but there was nothing that Kenya did or said that warranted that man charging towards her yelling obscenities. She simply requested that he remove himself from the space he was invited into by the women he seems to abhor. He was a guest. He didn’t kick in any funds on that trip and even if he did, his actions would still be unacceptable. Provocation does exist but this was not an example of provocation. It was an example of irrational behavior. It was an example of a man without any strength of character. It was an example of a punk.

I hope that these women will review the footage and recognize their faux pas but then again, it is reality TV and many times the last thing they deal with is reality in these shows. But to be clear, the reality is that women, our women, Black women, need the support of Black men. They need us to defend them with the same vigor we defend our favorite musician or sports team. They need us to remind them that they are not bitches and hoes despite what the media has to say. They need us to stand between them and anyone who means them ill will, even if its another Black man. They need us to love them as much as they love us and to fulfill that love in words and in deeds.

Glenn, perhaps therapy is in order. The one with the attitude is you little man, not the ladies you project your own shortcomings onto. And to my Black women, please share the love you have for us with your sisters. We need each other and wrong is wrong no matter if you sit or stand to make a tinkle.

Artistic Nude: A Portrait Of An Ex-Ex Gay

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My first year of college, I was going through a crisis spiritually. I was raised in an Apostolic Christian church. You know, the ones that have you at the altar tarrying for the Holy Ghost while yelling “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!” in your ear and you can’t focus on being filled with the spirit and speaking in tongues when you got old people spitting on you and saying hallelujah so fast you confuse speaking in tongues with simply being tongue-tied for a moment. Don’t get me wrong, the church I grew up in introduced me to God. They set me on a path that has been a blessing to me but there were some rough patches.

Growing up with homosexual attraction and tendencies and wrestling with my faith was a chore that took its toll eventually. I’ll probably write about that in more detail later. But let me give you an example, I remember being in Sunday school. I was 18 and had went back in the closet after coming out when I was 17. One of my favorite deacons was teaching the singles Sunday school class (the classes were divided by age group for the most part as well as marital status once you got older). He was talking about deliverance and how once you’re delivered from something, that particular thing will always tempt you. You will ALWAYS have to wrestle with it which is the Christian struggle and all that. Now, that didn’t sit well in my spirit. What I understood about deliverance and the power of God is that deliverance is real and it’s complete. Once delivered from homosexuality there would be no struggle with same sex attraction. There would still be temptations in the world of course, but if I was free from a particular monkey on my back, then that monkey would no longer be anywhere near my back but instead replaced by a new monkey. “Whom the Son sets free, is free indeed” was my understanding. But that Sunday, a mentor whom I respected, spoke to a struggling gay teen and told him that deliverance was essentially not possible. Not truly. More about that in a later post though.

Anyway, senior year of high school, I’d just told my loved ones I was gay and was waiting on ‘deliverance’ but in the meanwhile I was going to indulge in what my sheltered childhood wouldn’t allow me to indulge in. I went to college a fresh out of the closet gay until less than a year later, I felt compelled to stop the lifestyle and claim deliverance. I fasted and prayed like a mad man. I studied the Bible. I went to church faithfully and tricked myself into believing I was happy and free from that monkey on my back. Long story short, I went back in the closet to avoid death and hell.

During that time, I was denying my truth and claiming heterosexual attraction, I was frustrated in my sexuality and my spirituality. I was depressed. I was terrified of going to hell because, though I wasn’t actively seeking same sex relationships or relations, I still had the attraction of course. It never really went away. I just ignored it and set my eyes on who I thought God was and who I thought God wanted me to be. I listened to those who took part in my raising.

While I was trying to walk the straight and narrow, all puns intended, I discovered a website called DeviantArt where I was introduced to a genre of photography called artistic nudes. I found something that would allow me the freedom to appreciate the male form without fear of damnation. I even went out of my way to search for female nude photography so I didn’t feel so bad about the male nude photography I was really the most interested in. It was art, after all, not porn. And eventually, I got inspired to do my own. I was the most satisfied with my own body during this period in my life. I wasn’t seeking a relationship of any kind. I was trying desperately to stop masturbating. So I expressed myself in a way that didn’t disturb my religious, or spiritual, psyche. I turned to art. It resulted in a lot of photos. In hindsight, they were pretty mediocre in comparison to the real models and photographers out there. But art did was it was supposed to, it helped me cope. It offered me freedom. It gave me something to focus on other than my own unhappiness.

I posted photos from that time period befpre on Facebook and Tumblrs, but this one in particular reminded me of who I was back then. Here I am naked in my dorm at about 3am taking a photo that I planned on posting to an art website yet I was hiding my sex (read sex organ). I was portraying mortification at being caught naked in the hallway of my dorm in the photo. Polarity was my drug of choice then. I was sure of right and wrong, sin and holiness, heaven and hell. I saw the world through purely black and white lenses. Yet, I was on a journey to a gray area. My surety began to be less certain of itself. I was discovering “me” at the same time I was being ruled by fear. There was a courage in me though. A courage that inspired me to do something that made me feel more human. All of this is who I was second it took to capture the black and white image above. So yeah, you see a nude man in a dorm, but in the millions of pixels in this photo are testaments of triumph and growth, spiritual confusion, religious oppression, and a fierce search for liberation. So much has changed since then, physically and spiritually. I’m not as slender as I was. Not as content with my physique, not as willing to take a nude photo and share it with the world. However, I am content with my spirituality. I am confident in my awareness of self. I am peaceful in the manner that counts the most for me. This photo is a relic, a still shot, of my spiritual and emotional history and I am proud of it. I am not ashamed. I am inspired to continue this journey and maybe one day, I will be able to post a nude photo of my body currently even though my physique may never be as perfect as I want it. My, how things have changed…

The End.

But not really…

I Had A Dream (Literally)

I had a dream.

Or rather, I had a nightmare. A horror film unfolded in my subconscious, to be more exact. And the scariest thing about it is how much it reflected a foreseeable reality.

The dream was visual of course, but the most memorable thing was the feelings, the emotions, the sense of powerlessness. I am no prophet. And in no way am I claiming that this is some post-apocalyptic truth. What I am saying, though, is the issues that are being spotlighted recently in the media are haunting and they should be haunting no matter what race you are.

The dream:

There was an idea. A wonderful idea to enable youth and even adults to express themselves in live art through poetry, improv, music, etc. It was a non-profit geared towards catharsis, towards release, towards letting go and simply being. The organization grew and apparently incorporated activism as well. The organization was holding an event full of live art and laughter and there was a noise complaint which inevitably brought a knock at the door from a police department. It is here that the details become a little murky and the dream transitions into a reflection of our reality.

At the time of this knock on the door of the vicinity, so many people from varying backgrounds, races, and cultures were partaking in the communion of expression. There were men, women, kids, who were Asian, Latin, Black, White, and everything in between. A general camaraderie was in the air until that knock.

A noise complaint suddenly turned a good natured event into a sort of concentration camp as police officers took over and the threat of them was not in their weapons. The threat lay in the “authority” they possessed. The tyranny of lawlessness without penalty. The officers wore it like a badge. They knew they held the power to harm without consequence from the law and we knew it. The Asians knew it. The Blacks knew it. The Whites knew it. The Latins knew it. We all knew it.

We were detained and herded into sitting corners awaiting orders. Not to be confused with requests. There was no respect. Only power and fear.  We were sitting there wondering what the hell we were doing that was so unlawful that we had to be treated like the lowest of criminals all from a peaceful gathering. Not a protest, but a gathering of individuals who, despite superficial and economical differences, were thoroughly enjoying each other.

Along with the cops, there were those affiliated with them who held no badges. They took a lady friend to the side without telling anyone why. She was simply taken. She was White. We were wary but too frightened to speak because by this time the violence that was only a breath previously was more of a dry typhoon. To spare too many details, that friend was taken and sexually assaulted by an affiliate of the law. Then she was returned and no officers batted their eyes.

I had had enough. The screams that were heard during the assault overcame the fear of the policemen. I went to one of them to file a report and was told, “You should leave the law in the hands of the law officers. You should leave the investigation of crime to us.” The comment was more than derisive because that officer was definitely aware of what had transpired and his gun was all but flaunted for intimidation tactics.

The dream fades as they tend to do and all of us are suddenly marching peacefully. The ever watchful eyes of the law with their guns keeping the tension ever so thick. People of ALL races, varying ages and cultures, marched in peaceful protest. Then we ran. We ran for freedom because we were apparently detained for God knows how long. We ran as if our lives depended on it. We bum-rushed the awaiting fields as the first bullets were fired. As Whites, Blacks, Asians, Latins, women, men, children, and so on were shot in the back by the law. And still we ran. The dream ended and I awakened deeply troubled.

I know this was merely a dream. Merely a culmination of the articles and breaking news stories about the lives lost in police custody. The Black lives. But in this dream, all lives were threatened. The police did not distinguish between sex or race or religion. They were the authority. They were the final say and any question towards them was seen as intended violence but none was ever offered. Even as one of our own was raped in that dream. Even though we were simply dancing and singing and reciting poetry for our own edification.

What does this mean? The hell if I know. It was haunting. It was something that made it hard for me to fall back asleep. The implications speak for themselves but just to clarify for anyone who may miss them: once the police eradicate Black Americans through systematic genocide using the guise of the law…who will they target next? How long will it be before law enforcement gains enough power to not only eradicate the Black lives that matter but the lives of the “all”? How long before its them versus us, the civilians? If they can be above the law when it comes to Black men and women in their custody from something as simple as a routine traffic stop, when will that same power be used against those of other races on a mass scale? Then, what? Or rather, then who?

Rakeem ‘OneVoice’ Person
UNCG Alumni
BA in Religious Studies
Minor in English

To Any One Who Has Suffered Loss

Hold your head up, my friend. Let the tears fall. Allow the memories to fill you with as much joy or pain that you can handle at the moment. Remember.

The memories are, in essence, a part of the spirit that was able to traverse on this plane. You are not broken. You are not lost. You are a vessel, now, for the spirit that has moved on to another plane of existence.

Remembering is an integral part of the healing. Carry that spirit with you and let it resonate within your own journey. No matter the form of loss; a break up, a death, a change of location, a change of personality due to illness or growing pains. Keep it and let it soothe, let it empower, let it be a momento of a past adventure that you were able to survive and tell the tale.

There are times when the loss may be senseless and you will struggle to grasp it in your mind. You will try your hardest to understand and make sense of a seemingly senseless thing. Do not be consumed by this higher function of our brain. This is the time to be rudimentary. This is your chance to be human and animal, to be finite and infinite, to be strong and vulnerable. This is not the end of your world. Keep revolving. Keep spinning on your axis, even if the tilt seems to reel in a direction that leaves you a little disoriented. It will not last forever.

The course that you were on will align again in time. The course will feel natural again. The path will become clear soon and it will even be lined with breathtaking sights along the way. You are not lost. You have encountered loss. This is not the end. This is the continuation.

Remember. Revolve. Proceed. I repeat, you are not lost. 

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Rakeem ‘OneVoice’ Person
UNCG Alumni
BA in Religious Studies
Minor in English