First Publication in GeneWatch Magazine: Rethinking 21st Century Racism on the Way Home

You can find the article here and the full issue here

Returning home from fieldwork can be difficult when you find yourself caught between an unintended call back to your project and the impending reality that home has lost its capacity to act as sanctuary. That was at least the situated liminality I encountered in the John F. Kennedy International Airport on July 16, 2013. Fresh off of a flight from Belgium after leaving Cameroon, I met America at a crossroads. It had been a little over 48 hours since the news had circulated around the country, and the world, that self-proclaimed neighborhood watchman-turned-vigilante George Zimmerman was found not guilty for stalking and shooting in the chest at point-blank range a young 17 year-old boy, Trayvon Martin, who was simply returning home after buying some skittles and iced tea.

Indeed, since I had left it in May, America had proven itself audacious and arrogant in ways that I could not stomach. To think it had only been a few days earlier that I met with a young Cameroonian woman at a café in downtown Douala to inform her that, despite the election of Barack Obama, America still has yet to fully confront the legacy of racism. That it still haunts those bodies whose skin does not prove bright enough to mirror the clouds. That despite her dreams of changing the world through medicine, America was not necessarily likely to welcome her, at least not with open arms. That she, like me, like my family, like many of my friends, would come to find herself engaging in the fight of her life in the pursuit of her happiness away from home.

As I sat in the waiting area, anxious to board my final flight to San Francisco, I doubted my advice had been marked by anything more than naïveté. After all, surrounded by television screens in every direction, all of which seemed to be tuned in to the same program on CNN, I listened as one of the jurors, protected by the veil of anonymity in a world marked by surveillance, echoed the President’s official statement that the verdict was justice served.

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#blackwomenareworksofart

#blackwomenareworksofart

In 2014, Bay Area Based MC/Poet/Songstress Dom Jones started a campaign “Black Women Are Works of Art” to combat the limited and often negative images of black women in the media. Truly blessed to have been chosen to be a representative for the month of April.

For more information, check out Dom’s blog here!

My Woman: Without America

I am a woman,

womb hung in skin
bronzed below the sun,
above cotton-root,
pickin’ the purity out
of the possibility
of freedom.

My fingers are thick,
tips century-calluses
sewing the hemline
between the nightmare draped dream
naming itself against me,

in blasphemy,

America

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They Don’t Walk Weapons Around the Lake: Oakland Gentrification

They don’t walk weapons around the lake.

Tiny, timid in their bark,
pups bid piss on palm trees
in need of becoming territory.

They tell me the neighborhood can sleep
itself away into silence
and awaken into something that will never be noise.

But parts of me miss the grime,
the dirty
talk of human
with the homeless.

The seduction
of bag lady wisdom
for a chick
acting like she learned.

I was less than myself when I thought Maureen
met her end
with a man
who rushed her into the shadows
behind the park bathroom
in front of my living room,
shades down.

Pants open. Continue reading

Learning French: Speaking Colonization

Trying to learn a colonial language in a former colony feels like betrayal. Like parts of me are/should never be able to be fluent. They resist in the pauses causing me to think twice, in between carnivorous tongues simultaneously. I speak silence into gestures that attempt to do more than imperialize tradition into a new century in broad daylight. But at night. I’m too calm. Barriers broken down, the sound seeps into my memory, and I worry about the day this tongue becomes the next one I use when I’m dreaming.

18/30 My Thighs (Simile Poem: Poems In Process)

like half moons made full-length thunder bolts

like bows stringing arrows along for consumption

like gun slings slung to the side ever ready for battle

like chocolate chip chaps slapped back for man-made maneuvering

like jello-shaking named pork divestment

like secret-mining for lips slow to switch tongues too foreign

like ham strung songs of solitude

like code-switching prayers to omniscience within

like rose petals breathing into themselves at departure

like eunuchs guarding soul-secrets sown impatiently

What I’m really trying to say is my thighs do not open easily, but when they do you will find a god you forgot you could believe in, a tongue your breath was yearning to speak in, a secret not easily dismissed for fleeting kisses; they’ll burn memory through your heart made fortress wrestling ego begging white flag surrender to dark matter brighter than the North Star

Line Rewrite: like half-moon crater bellies full electric-current shocking cement down quick to rubble-crumb strides made thunder booms banging down to the beat of no man, not even God.

Spoken Words: In Hopes of Understanding

Let my words be heard not read. Something dies the moment we baptize our senses to vision. We lose sight of the visionary inside us. I want to feel. Peel the skin. My soul’s screaming within flesh fleshed out through sound. You see my mouth moving but do you feel my soul moving between melody and silence? I’m relying on notes grammatically organized to tell lessons I’m learning. These systems require unlearning. I’m turning to the magic of breath. Breathing in and out of definitions. Let me be that which is undefined. The sensual. The effervescent. The gaze with no intention other than to take in everything around me before I shut it out in the name of “perception.” I’m training my eyes to listen. My ears to feel. My hands to see. Intuition asked, “Can you feel me?” And I say, limbs tied back, eyes blinded by humility, “Yes.” Unequivocally, “Yes.”