Wu-Tang Clan. I met the awesome Safia Elhillo on Tuesday at the Beltway Poetry Slam in DC. Made these fun sketches of her while she performed! (P.S. She’s a visual artist on the low, check her Vandalism?! Chapbook cover art.) Enjoy.
Stumbled across Marques Toliver’s work through Lianne La Havas’ work on Youtube. This cat is a brilliant singer & instrumentalist with lyrics that get my poetic juices churnin’! I honestly cried listening to his White Sails performance on Jools Holland.
My dreams talk of having a Martin King, of me on the mountain’s peak speaking with the strength of ten kings. Malcolm’s X marked the spot. I step on the launching pad, been waiting to lift off; I lift off and claim the Promise Land. I’ll pick up the phone if Freedom rings. Don’t need a ring to claim “I do”. I DO see we with WINGS!
Came across Jennah Bell’s music, watching poetry on The Striver’s Row youtube page. Miss Bell definitely lives up to her last name; her bright voice, colorful lyrics, & mesmerizing melodies instantly drew me into her world. Thus, I drew this piece listening to the acoustic “Shot Gun City” on repeat!
“i pray my BIC get big as the eiffel tower, so i can draw the world for seventy-two hours”. quick self-portrait. pencil. oil pastel. highlighter marker. had to get this out of my system to combat this bummy monday. now back to regularly scheduled studying.
sometimes, i don’t know what to do and that scares me. sometimes, it’s hard to stay hopeful when US society shits on people who dream like me. every time i get sucked into the world of social media, and addicted to what people think of me and my artwork, i feel like i am not doing enough. like i am not enough. and that feeling is shitty. when my hard work goes unnoticed, educationally and fiscally, it’s hard to want to keep going. it’s hard to be good and not fuck up.
every since middle school, it was always cool to fuck up. a handful of my friends got D’s and F’s on their report cards, and people celebrated that shit like it was the way to go. i made A’s and B’s but that made me too nerdy, too uncool. back then that shit mattered; and i thought that wen i got into college, this would drastically change. but in transitioning to higher-education, it seemed like all a black male had to do was trade his intelligence for his athleticism, get a scholarship, remain cool, and still earn a degree.
i was the only black dude (class of 2012) in my classes. though i don’t give a damn about race, i couldn’t deny the automatic feeling of loneliness when i walked into my classrooms. i had no tribe. thus, everytime i was late to class (whether i woke up late, woke up feeling like shit or because i truly had other obligations to handle), i represented the whole tribe. imagine walking to class and feeling naked, every time. for four years. that was me stuck in an ongoing cycle of embarrassment and shame. it wore me down. made me question why i was even in school. i felt like no one could understand my struggle, and there was no one to confide in. no leaders to look up to. and to my disadvantage, there was no percentage for personal/psychological struggle in the grading curriculum.
but what was my distress to blissful professors with cotton-stuffed ears? “stop complaining! oh well, there’s always next year to make up for the D you earned in your 6-credit course (though you may not be able afford next year because you won’t have the financial pillar of being an RA supporting you and you lost all of your grants because, in getting a 6-credit D, your cumulative GPA dropped from a 3.0 to a 2.951). just take out more loans, keep working hard and you’ll be fine!”
now as a 22-year old man, entering his 5th school year as a super-senior at VCU, i realize that the success model of “the real world” reflects the same bullshit. their motto: reward the cool; shit on the underdog, the overworked and underpaid, the artist, the dissenter, the one who zooms out of the distracting superficial shit to see the truth of the bigger picture and call out the bastards perpetuating the bullshit. and if you refuse to be hypnotized or lulled into a sleepwalking drone, then pow, bang, goodnight, eternal sleep.
and this scares me. losing my freedom of expression scares me. not coming from the money, but knowing that the only way to thrive as an artist in america is to kiss ass and scrape up enough money to feed the capitalistic beast, scares me.
as an artist, i am in a constant struggle to find balance with my ego. rarely do i deflate my ego and ask people for help. i am beginning my quest for stability and something inside is telling me to ask for help. help me.
i can’t deny this unquestionably urgency to fly away, but this pre-graduate gravity weighs so much. am i the one who needs to go on a “diet” or is it the invisible weight my oppressors shackling me down? this is the tight rope walk of my life, the 180-pound body hanging onto a spool of thread.