The White girl laughs at Blacks who cannot swim,
The Black girl told the White girl,
I know all too well of sunken Black bodies marinating in the ocean.
Pools polluted with acid to burn off Blackness,
Police that pull up on pool parties where the barrel of their gun whispers “This is White only”

Dear White woman,
I prefer showers over baths because there is something about being submerged in a white tub filled with water that feels more waterboarding than cleansing

—  McKinney, Texas by kinghijabpin
3

Lullaby (For a Black Mother)

My little dark baby,
My little earth-thing,
My little love-one,
What shall I sing
For your lullaby?

With a few simple words as smooth as a song, the poet Langston Hughes celebrates the love between an African American mother and her baby. The award-winning illustrator Sean Qualls’s painted and collaged artwork captures universally powerful maternal moments with tenderness and whimsy. In the end, readers will find a rare photo of baby Hughes and his mother, a biographical note, further reading, and the complete lullaby. Like little love-ones, this beautiful book is a treasure.

Lonely ain’t a good enough reason.

Because even though you are lonely…
He ain’t right for you.

And even though you wake up to the thought of him… As though your spirit were his answering machine.
He ain’t right for you.

And even though you see him post on Facebook,
liking pictures that are not yours
and you, becoming little burning ember
imagine his voice to be the cooling quench to your anxiety.
He ain’t right for you.

Even though you are covered by a cloud of memories…
All the good ones that is.
and this cloud will follow you in your home all disrespectful and what not…
and you will turn the lights on…
but you will not notice it to be light…
so busy covered by the haze of his laughter…

Even though you look at your phone from time to time
wondering if he will call
wishing he would call
knowing ain’t no way in HELL he could try and get away from all this goodness you gave him,
yes every little bit of it,
and he’d better call and act like he know what’s right in this world for him, namely God, and then you! TUH…

Even though he might call…
and it might feel good…for the night
or the week. or maybe two…

Still…he will not be right for you.

And you know this.
And there is no unknowing what you already know.
You can choose to unlove you…and chase him…
You can choose to untrust you and trust him…

But there is no way to forget the moment you
realized that he could never fill your cup…
and even though you are lonely
Babygirl
Please understand that he won’t ever be enough.


C. 2015 Rashawna Wilson

To a Dark Girl

I love you for your brownness
And the rounded darkness of your breast.
I love you for the breaking sadness in your voice
And shadows where your wayward eye-lids rest.

Something of old forgotten queens
Lurks in the lithe abandon of your walk,
And something of the shackled slave
Sobs in the rhythm of your talk.

Oh, little brown girl, born for sorrow’s mate,
Keep all you have of queenliness,
Forgetting that you once were slave,
And let your full lips laugh at Fate!

—  Gwendolyn Bennett (1902-1981)
2

Happy Birthday James Mercer Langston Hughes! (February 1, 1902 – May 22, 1967)

1. Title page of Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz. Langston Hughes. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1971; Covers of The Dream Keeper and Other Poems. Langston Hughes. With Illustrations by Helen Sewell. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1949 and Black Misery. Langston Hughes. Illustrations by Arouni. New York: Paul S. Eriksson, Inc, 1971.

2.  Portrait of author Langston Hughes. Handwritten on back: “Langston Hughes." 

  • Courtesy of the E. Azalia Hackley Collection of African Americans in the Performing Arts, Detroit Public Library
“Dear Basketball” by Kobe Bryant

From the moment
I started rolling my dad’s tube socks
And shooting imaginary
Game-winning shots
In the Great Western Forum
I knew one thing was real:

I fell in love with you.

A love so deep I gave you my all —
From my mind & body
To my spirit & soul.

As a six-year-old boy
Deeply in love with you
I never saw the end of the tunnel.
I only saw myself
Running out of one.

And so I ran.
I ran up and down every court
After every loose ball for you.
You asked for my hustle
I gave you my heart
Because it came with so much more.

I played through the sweat and hurt
Not because challenge called me
But because YOU called me.
I did everything for YOU
Because that’s what you do
When someone makes you feel as
Alive as you’ve made me feel.

You gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream
And I’ll always love you for it.
But I can’t love you obsessively for much longer.
This season is all I have left to give.
My heart can take the pounding
My mind can handle the grind
But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.

And that’s OK.
I’m ready to let you go.
I want you to know now
So we both can savor every moment we have left together.
The good and the bad.
We have given each other
All that we have.

And we both know, no matter what I do next
I’ll always be that kid
With the rolled up socks
Garbage can in the corner
:05 seconds on the clock
Ball in my hands.
5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1


Poem: http://www.theplayerstribune.com/dear-basketball/

Art: Hank Willis Thomas, Branded Head, series: Branded, Lambda photograph, 40 x 30 inches, 2003.

http://dismagazine.com/disillusioned/46123/hank-willis-thomas-branding-usa/

Open letter to black queens

May i bow before you?
I almost want to kiss the ground you so gracefully stride on with elegance and power.
Walking with your head and hair high.
So full of spiritual energy,
To be in your presence is what i would assume is equivalent to catching holy ghost.
Oh my goddess if you only knew how i see you.
Lips and hips full, lightning strikes across your skin to show that you have weathered many storms and still won.
The mortals call them stretchmarks.
You turn incredible hulks to bruce banners.
Skin like black butter,
Gold pales in comparison to you.
Hearts that fit the universe in them,
And minds that see, know and think more than a man can fathom.
It is an honor and a privilege to be amongst you.
Thank you, i love you.

4

“She found comfort in the nature of simplicity,
laying there embracing me with the sweetest remedy I could’ve ever found for a Sunday morning,
her eyes.
Rolling over, becoming tangled in the covers,
our bodies created waves she tried not to submerge under
by wrapping her arms around my shoulders….”

📷: @userunkn
My Dear Sandra

My dear Sandra
We bleed the same blood
Same skin color shared
Same history behind us
A common fear for our lives
The police was never an ally
The Slave Patrol found its new home
They ain’t never been for us
My dear Sandra
You ain’t deserve to die
Intelligent, beautiful & bold
What an awesome Black woman you were
I’m inspired by your boldness to speak up
Character is revealed during the heat
The times of adversity is when peoples true colors show
My dear Sandra
Gone too soon
You were well on your way
Speaking up
Speaking out against injustice
A brave black women
Considered a threat
They took you out
Got the gall to think we your people ain’t gonna find out
Like we not gonna speak on it
As if we just gonna sit by
Let them run Scott free nah
My dear Sandra
We bleed the same blood
Same skin color shared
Same history behind us
A common fear for our lives
The police was never an ally
The Slave Patrol found its new home
They ain’t never been for us
-Speak up against what you feel is bad
Question everything
My dear Sandra
Your name will never go unnoticed
Your life gone too soon won’t never be in vein
SAY HER NAME~Sandra Bland
Rest in power ✊🏾
-My Dear Sandra

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

Tomorrow,
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
Then.

Besides,
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed–

I, too, am America.

-by Langston Hughes, 1925. The American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, columnist and leader of the Harlem Renaissance was born on this day, February 1st, in 1902.

Pictured above, Hughes’ first publicity photograph from 1925, and a portrait painted by the German painter Winold Reiss. From NPR.