“one day you gonna walk in this house and i'm gonna have a long African gown you'll sit down and say "The Black..." and i'm gonna take one arm out then you-not noticing me at all- will say "What about this brother..." and i'm going to be slipping it over my head and you'll rap on about "The revolution..." while i rest your hand against my stomach you'll go on-as you always do- saying "I just can't dig..." while i'm moving your hand up and down and i'll be taking your dashiki off then you'll say "What we really need..." and taking your shorts off the you'll notice your state of undress and knowing you you'll just say "Nikki/ isn't this counterrevolutionary...”—“Seduction” by Nikki Giovanni
“If i can’t do what i want to do then my job is to not do what i don’t want to do It’s not the same thing but it’s the best i can do If i can’t have what i want … then my job is to want what i’ve got and be satisfied that at least there is something more to want Since i can’t go where i need to go … then i must … go where the signs point through always understanding parallel movement isn’t lateral When i can’t express what i really feel i practice feeling what i can express and none of it is equal I know but that’s why mankind alone among the animals learns to cry”—Nikki Giovanni, “Choices”
“I was taught men marry women have two point five kids ranch homes in suburbs with impossibly green lawns surrounded by pristine white picket fences shop at pathmark and k-mart buy tools from sears go to church every sunday pray for salvation find mistresses when bored I was told it was wrong to love another man touch the way I do mingle spirits and fluids feel okay about who I am listen to my heart expose the real me admit to being gay I was warned that if I swallowed my unconventional desires slept with a man satisfied wants fulfilled needs I would burn in hell fry forever So I tell them "Start the barbecue”—rory buchanan, barbeques.
"Oregon Elegy" - Christian Campbell
for I. H.
I once told a friend, who was going
to Oregon for Christmas with his girlfriend,
he’d be the only black person there
and, in fact, if you shuffle Oregon,
like a seasoned minstrel, it spells Negro
but with an extra O as if to make
a groan, nearly a shout, perhaps
a moment of fright: O Negro in Oregon!
He died laughing and told me
that’s word-lynching, and I wondered
if we could also lynch words,
string them up, sever them,
tattoo them with bullets and knives;
if we could hold a barbecue
for language swaying with the branches,
soon picked to silence by crows—
words soaked in coal oil
then set ablaze, a carnival of words
sacrificed over rivers, from bridges,
from trees, too-ripe words dangling
from branches just beyond our reach.
Like Alonzo Tucker in 1906,
shot twice, then hanged
from the Fourth Street Bridge
by two hundred men arched into one
white arm because (we wonder,
we know) a white woman said
he raped her. I want to tell my boy
blacks weren’t wanted in Oregon
at first, but what do I know, I’ve never
set foot on Nez Perce land where
exactly one hundred years after
Tucker, he could go west to one edge
of America because he loves
his woman enough to be
the very last Negro on Earth.
“I think the libraries live in me, and in most people, as leaps of faith from what we’re taught to what we innately know. Our visceral knowledge allows us to deflect the toxic misinformation we sometimes receive through media and even the most well-meaning educational institutions. " ”—Harmony Holiday, interview with Gifted, Young, and Black
I am no color.
I am not “light”,
Nor am I “dark”.
I am a beautiful woman.
Woman, who has struggled.
Oppressed by history.
A conditioned beauty,
A beauty that was not me.
Permanently straight hair,
To conform to their world.
But my hair, it kinks and it curls.
My breasts full, my hips twirl.
Nothing can change who I am.
The world has changed you see.
No more of what you expect of me;
That “same black woman” in your society.
But I am no color.
I am not “light”
Nor am I “dark”.
I am a beautiful woman.
She’s not a commodity produced to satisfy your wants or needs
She pleases herself
She wines her waist
She moves her hips
She shakes her ass with no regrets
Foolishly, they attempt to box her sexuality
On a spectrum that ranges from prude to freak
She laughs at their binaries
Dark skin, full lips and full breasts
Trouble for some
Danger for others
Love for her
Small waist, thick thighs
Wide hips, wide eyes
To share as she pleases
Long legs opened for those of her choice
She dresses as she please
Speaks with a confidence that makes those foreign to such behavior
And she laughs in response
Feeling sorry for sorry souls still holding onto jezebel
“WHEN WE SPEAK TRUTHS OUR OPPRESSORS REFUSE TO LISTEN MELODIC WORDS CHOKE UP IN OUR THROATS DON'T EVEN BECOME WHISPERS THEY TRICKLE BACK DOWN OUR WINDPIPES CUT OFF OUR OXYGEN SUPPLY THEY BLIND US WITH STIFLING RAGE EAT AWAY AT OUR FLESH FESTER LIKE SORES ALL OVER OUR SKIN BRANDED BY LABELS SHACKLED BY HANDCUFFS SEDATED BY DRUGS AND RELIGION THESE UNFORMED DEFORMED POEMS CAUSE US TO LEAVE THIS WORLD TEN YEARS BEFORE OUR TIME OR THEY SIMPLY DIE BEFORE THEY ARE BORN THERE ARE NO POEMS FOR AFRICAN AMERICANS”—joseph long, there are no poems for african americans.
your skin is lovely. be proud of it. and i don’t mean pride like hashtagging “team dark skin” on your twitter bio. that doesn’t even begin to grasp the magnifence of your unblemished cocoa skin, kissed ever so gently by the sun’s overly generous rays. and if your skin’s complexion resembles the love child of honey and caramel’s passionate affair, why would you brand yourself with a title as unworthy as “team light skin”? when i say proud, i mean pride like wearing your skin like a royal robe handcrafted from the world’s most exquisite fabric.
don’t ever let anyone tell you how you should or should not wear your hair. let that afro adorn your head like a halo that has finally found its long-lost angel. let your braids tickle your spine as they flow down your back like the cool water of the river Nile. and if you have a relaxer, swish that hair from side to side like a sunflower being teased by the careless wind on a breezy day.
the mysteriously dark brown hue of your beautiful eyes is deep enough to engulf the secrets and stories of 10 thousand dynasties. deep enough for any man with decent eyesight to get lost in, so stop hiding behind hazel contacts. your eyes already shine bright enough.
when a guy calls you at an ungodly hour with ungodly conversation dripping from his tongue, change the subject. ask him if he has a five-year plan. ask him about his goals, his dreams, his future, and then fall asleep on the phone, exhilarated by the pleasure of mentally stimulating conversation. nothing is more attractive than intellectual equality.
there’s nothing wrong with staying in every once in a while. if you don’t feel like going to that party it’s okay. take a break from gyrating things that don’t need to be gyrated. bend the spine of a book back and bust its pages wide open. keep your legs closed. you won’t ever find love lying on your back in the valley of a dorm room mattress. trust me. it’s not worth it. worship your body like sinners worship the prodigal rays of light that escape past the gates of heaven into the scorching wastelands of hell.
women who looked like us carried oppression on their shoulders, wore scarlet lashes on their anguish-stricken backs, and pricked their fingertips on the thorns of plants watered with the sweat and tears of their husbands, brothers, and sons.
women who looked like us
so black girls,
let’s be revolution.