nerdyblackgirlshit

The Rules BY SIMONE JOHN

When you are born your skin
will be gra­ham cracker col­ored        like mine
You will be able to pass the paper bag test
long before you have any idea what it is

One day you will ask where we came from
I will pull out a map of Boston        point out
neigh­bor­hoods still scarred from forced
bus­ing. Trace my fin­ger along avenues
that serve as mini Mason Dixon lines

I will pass over the park where my father
stood        a year older than you        wip­ing
another boy’s spit from his cheek
the word nig­ger still ring­ing in his ears

And before that you’ll ask drink­ing
from that infi­nite well of curios­ity
reserved for chil­dren        I will fum­ble
for an appro­pri­ate response summoning

an image of the share crop­ping South
My grand­mother        suit­case on her lap
look­ing for the last time at a body
lynched limp        sway­ing on sturdy branch

We’ll take turns laugh­ing at Grandma’s
funny phrases and I’ll explain how
her accent fol­lowed her from the South
You’ll ask if we can go down there someday

Some­day I’ll say        When you are born,
I will be faced with a choice: raise
a fear­less boy to be buried young
Or raise a man con­stantly reminded

of his place. I will tread this tightrope
teach you the rules. There are things
you can­not do. You can­not afford
to be reck­less, like some of your

pale faced peers. Do not run
in pub­lic. This alone could be
cause for sus­pi­cion. Worse still,
if there’s some­thing in your hands.

Your hands are the stuff of magic
tricks: what was bought appears
stolen, a snack shape shifts into
a weapon.

And some­one should know where
you are at all times. I am not
naïve enough to think it will be me.
Long before I am ready,

you’ll out­grow your love of
gig­gling secrets in my ear.
But this rule pro­vides the alibi
you never thought you’d need.

Soon you’ll tune your inner
com­pass to nav­i­gate this path.
I am lay­ing ground­work to keep you
alive long enough to get there.

http://egjournal.org/issue/spring-2013/article/the-rules/

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CREDITS

FEATURED MUSIC, IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE:
SEE THRU TO U (FEAT. ERYKAH BADU)
HUNGER (FEAT. NIKI RANDA)
GETTING THERE (FEAT. NIKI RANDA)
TAKEN FROM UNTIL THE QUIET COMES OUT OCTOBER 1ST/2ND

MUSIC BY – FLYING LOTUS

Watch on misyvette.tumblr.com
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“For Origin of the Universe, Thomas examines art historical constructs of feminine identity, sexuality, beauty, and power in 15 works in a variety of sizes, shapes, and media. Taking cues from Marcel Duchamp’s Étant Donnés: 1° la chute d’eau, 2° le gaz d’éclairage (Given: 1. The Waterfall, 2. The Illuminating Gas) and Gustave Courbet’s L’Origine du Monde (The Origin of the World), Thomas presents the female figure as the origin of the universe, focusing on how the female body both engenders and inhabits landscape. The works on view are in communication with one another—portraits of Qusuquzah [above] and Din gaze out at modernist interiors and plein-air landscapes, all confronted by the artist’s arresting recreations of Courbet’s Origin.

In nineteenth-century visual culture, black female sexuality functioned as something to be rejected or disparaged, but Thomas reconfigures these historical tropes into contemporary statements of empowerment. By casting African American women as the “heroines” of her works, she makes a profound statement regarding gender and racial identity. Thomas’s dialogue with Courbet and Duchamp is a strong reclamation of history, reasserting the subjective nature of beauty. In addition to her paintings and photographs, she will create an installation in SMMoA’s Project Room 1, to reinvent Étant Donnés, where the “peep show” reveals the true surprise of a 70s-style paneled interior in the place of Duchamp’s splayed female body.”