Black Privilege

“Crystal Valentine’s Black Privilege was posted on YouTube by Button Poetry and is reprinted by permission.

Crystal Valentine is a performance poet studying Creative Writing and Adolescent Mental Health Studies at NYU. A member of NYU’s poetry slam team, she won first place at the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitation (CUPSI) in 2013 and 2015. She was a member of the 2014 Urban Word youth slam team and is the 2015 NYC Youth Poet Laureate. In this video, she performs her poem “Black Privilege” for the 2015 CUPSI finals.

Transcript

Black Privilege is the hung elephant swinging in the room
Is the memory of a slave ship, preying for the Alzheimer’s to kick in

Black Privilege is me having already memorized my nephew’s eulogy,
My brother’s eulogy,
My father’s eulogy
My un-conceived child’s eulogy

Black Privilege is me thinking my sister’s name safe from this list

Black Privilege is me pretending to know Travyon Martin on a first name basis
Is me using a dead boy’s name to win a poetry slam
Is me carrying a mouth full of other people’s skeletons to use at my own convenience

Black Privilege is the concrete that holds my breath better than my lungs do

Black Privilege is always having to be the strong one,
Is having a crow bar for a spine,
Is fighting, even when you have no more blood to give
Even when you have lost sight of your bones
Even when your mother prayed for you
Even after they’ve prepared your body for the funeral

…”

Read the rest here

[Headline image: The photograph shows a black woman in profile against a brown background.]

Do You Still Dream in Technicolor?
  • Do You Still Dream in Technicolor?
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Do You Still Dream in Technicolor?

I dreamed in color
until you wore them down
into black and white

our yellow brick road
crumbled
beneath slippers
I could never fill

and I do not know
how you got behind
the curtain
but I’ve tapped my heels
three times
and I am still
not home.

Graduation Speech at UC Davis Southeast Asian Grad 2015

Written by Fong Tran
Spoken on June 13, 2015
UC Davis Conference Room

You know it’s a southeast Asian function
when they turn off the AC
and literally make it feel like Southeast Asia
So before I go into this talk,
I want to say this is a community
and community means we affirm each other
so any love you show me on stage would help
what are some way to affirm the speaker?
snaps, word, Hay, the 2015 version is #Yass
You all look beautiful
Undergrads look great
I, on the other hand I look wack
There seems to be no incentive to get masters or Ph.D.
cause you just end up looking more weird the higher you go up
I feel like harry potter with multiple options to fly
If not broom stick, then cape
if not cape, then useless hemmed up sleeves
I was like, who the heck designed these things
Southeast Asian Americans are people in the United States
whose heritage stems from the historical context of the Vietnam War
this year, we commemorate 40 years since the fall of Saigon
countries including but not limited to Cambodia, Laos, or Vietnam.

There are a lot of misconceptions about this community
so I’d like to take time break some of them downs
one of them is that we’re all the same people
one monolith
but we’re not
we have beautiful diversity that runs deep like the Mekong River
we are Lao, Iu-Mienh
Hmong, Cham
Taidam, Montagnard
Sino-Chinese, Vietnamese
Cambodian/Khmer and more
we are multi-ethnic and mixed
first generation, second generation third
straight, queer and trans
we are different and the same

Another misconception
is this notion that we’re
we’re the model minority
a notion that was design to divide us
from other communities of color
we’re all supposed to be innately successful
we’re all good at Math
we do everything right with little complain
We don’t need additional resources or support
we’re just like any other Asians at UC Davis
40% percent on campus
however this notion
denies the struggles of our people
it reduces this very moment of graduation
it diminishes all the late nights studying
with red bull and boba milk tea running through our veins
It subsides stress that we carry when we worry about
the realities of rising loan debt and insecure job opportunities
it denies the sacrifices of our families
that have allowed us to be here today
graduates, what you are doing today is remarkable
our people are remarkable
we’re told that we are the
Model minority
but trust me when I say
there is nothing
model about us
and there is nothing minor about us

we are not model white porcelain sheen
everything that we do is unique to us
our culture breaths through our food
we’re the type of people that put fish sauce in everything
we are the type of people that put sriracha sauce on top of everything
It’s how we raise chickens and grow mint leaves in our backyards
its in the of flow of our 6 step
when you first tried to learn how to break dance
and its not a traditional Southeast Asian wedding
without Hennessey and Heineken

everything we do
we do in our way
It is both Southeast Asian and American
we are complex & multi-layered
intersectional & whole

There is nothing model about us
There is nothing minor about us
we come from a history of
migration & resettlement
Of refuge & genocide
Of poverty & post trauma
we follow the legacies of resistance
we follow footsteps of rebels
rebels that left everything that they knew
with babies strapped on their backs
with all belongings in arms
crossing rice fields, forests and Mekong rivers filled of land mines
escaping on fish boats constantly in endangered by pirates
rebels that were born in refugee camps
barely surviving off white bread and water
we are the descents of soldiers, survivors
of farmers & hard working laborers
of donut shop workers & waiters
of gardeners & seamstresses,
of business owners & business hustlas
of nail saloon workers & nurses
our ancestors can show their struggle and strife
in their wrinkles of their hands
so by the nature of our lineage
we
are
warriors

we are warriors with privilege and opportunity
to be the next doctors, lawyers and engineers
even though it may disappoint to your parents
we will also be the next teacher & social worker
artists, fashion designers & entrepreneurs
we can be anything
and we will be everything
our community needs

our histories have been silenced
and peoples have been fractured
Its difficult for us to speak our minds
because our minds been colonized, not to speak
but if there’s anything that I’ve learned in grad school
Its that these stories, our stories
are necessary
and they need to be spoken
so graduates
as I have given the chance to speak
you must proclaim your power
you must declare your resiliency
assert your presence
in any and every space you are given
cause far too often we are made to be invisible
in the workforce, in academia, in media, in policy

we must speak our stories
or someone else will
so I’ll start

My name is Fong Tran
I’m Program Advisor at the Cross Cultural Center
I’m a Poet/ Mentor and Batman Enthusiast
I’m walking today to be the first in my family
to get a Masters degree in Community Development
before that, I graduated from UC Berkeley with a major Social Welfare
double minor in Education and Public Policy
before that, I graduated from Florin High School in South Sacramento
before that, I was president of Key Club
and Captain of my track team
before that, I grew in poverty
gang and drug prevalent neighborhoods
before that, I had ADHD and it was difficult for me to do well in school
before that, my mother suffered third degree burns all over her body
that scars her till this day
before that, my father left my family when I was in third grade
and I’ve been raised in a single parent home ever since

From struggle, comes strength
From tragedy, comes adversity
From Pain, comes love

my story, like yours
fundamentally have these themes Interwoven
throughout our narratives
our people
Southeast Asian People
Understand this concept all too well
our histories and our peoples have been
broken, battered and disenfranchised
we have not only been taught to
work hard to earn everything in our lives
but we’ve been taught sacrifice
but we’ve been taught love through work
and not just words
Our people have been through
war and trauma
so we don’t speak love through hugs and kisses
so it feels awkward and inauthentic
when we say the things explicit things to our families

However, I urge you to
speak your truth because everything about this world tells you not to do
our upbringing has told you not stand out
not make waves
but you are more than the oceans currents
you are the gravitation pull from cycling moons

be outspoken
be loud
Be a champion
Do it your own way
Be you
be authentic
be true

When you get up here
tell a truth that almost makes you want to throw up
tell your older brother
something you could never say out loud
because he’s your brother
and you don’t say things like this
but tell him you love him
that even though he’s made mistakes in his past
that you respect him for the man that he’s become
and that he inspires you
that you’re proud of him
that he’s a great father
You love him for the way he raises your baby nieces
to be happy, to be true
You thank you sister in law
Chi Loan
and thank her for putting up with your brother
and that she’s your favorite
You tell your eldest sister
she is everything a chi hai could ever be
a leader, an inspiration
that you thank her for going through all the possible struggles
in growing up in a new country
so that I could grow up feeling like this one is mine
you thank her for helping you on the down payment on your first house
and that you will pay her back soon
but you just graduated so you’re still broke

you’ll be afraid to cry in front of your friends and family
cause you think they’ll give you a hard time
and say
real men don’t cry
you pause and sincerely tell them
men that cry
are “real men”
so you let everything go
do not be afraid
“people cry not because they are weak
but because they have been strong for way too long”

You tell your baby sister
that you’re proud of her
and that all you ever wanted
was for her to be happy
and you would do anything for her
even though it never seems like it
you see her power
in the strength in her eyes
and the length of her hair
she is brilliant
You tell all four of your baby nieces
Aja, Sonja, Anh Thu, Thu Thang
that they need to know
that your uncle is handsome, smart and strong
but you will be more beautiful, smarter and stronger than he will ever be
but they probably already know that because
they constantly beat hit him upon sight
I’m like the family punching bag
and this graduation outfit
is probably not helping this concept
You tell your mother
that you love her
even with your broken native tongue
you say, “con thuong me”
that she was a warrior for working a manual job
that broke her back every 3:00pm
that she was your mother and father
cause your father wasn’t great enough to keep her
and wasn’t strong enough to keep you
and that you never needed him
but you couldn’t have done it without her
that she let you join cross country and
go on field trips and have senior prom
even when she could barely afford car insurance
and that she means the universe to you

graduates
you will feel lost,
you will be afraid of the uncertainty of the future
but understand, we follow in the legacies of resistance
I will not end by telling you to dream big
never give up
that’s not only a cliché
but its condescending to our histories
we and our families have always known to
dream bigger than our ancestors ever could
so we will inevitably and undoubtly will be extraordinary

You will constantly ask yourself
“what am I going to do with my life”
but truly honor our ancestors
and our community
but the true question you must constantly seek is
“what impact I will create through my life”

Congratulations to the class of 2015

"Love is in what we let go of -  not what we cling to."
  • "Love is in what we let go of - not what we cling to."
  • wednesdayshambles
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“Love is in what we let go of- not what we cling to.”

I keep my heart unloaded,
with the safety on,
in a lock box
beside my bed,
so I won’t be tempted
to get off
half-cocked

I learned
from the law men
the definition
of intent
and how my greatest crime
appears in the chalk lines
I’ve drawn
around myself

there are days
I remember all too well
the scent of skin
and the sweat
and the rain

I have found loss
hidden
in the taste
of salt.

___

The title are the words of my friend: illuminedeye. He’s a cool cat and he’s brilliant. Thank you, sassy britches, for letting me use those lovely words of yours.

27th birthday.

Happy New Year
to the girl on the couch
in her underwear.

the couch - slash - bed.
that has been her body’s keeper
for a couple years
years where she has grown
more than she has ever grown
except not enough to not live in her
father’s living room.

Happy new year to the girl
who is trying to figure out
what more she can do.
On her already piled list of things.
because now she is a year older
and age is a sneaky little word
for “more shit you have to do”…
and she is in her underwear
trying to pretend she understands.

Happy new year to the girl
trying hard not to look on Facebook.
trying desperately not to be lonely
though lonely is what you’re supposed to become
in your underwear sitting on a couch that
is also your bed…worrying about
what you will not get done
amidst the pile up of things that you have not
yet gotten done…
amidst the things you thought 26 would make you do
but didn’t
and you are some of what you always knew you were
which doesn’t necessarily make you happy
but…
that you are alive.

dammit.

girl.

you are alive.

do you understand?

Do YOU UNDERSTAND THAT YOU ARE ALIVE?

babygirl.
just be enough for this moment.

just be.
Happy New year to the girl
who remembers everything
and will still
just be.

C. 2015 Rashawna Wilson

instagram

Let’s do the dating thing.
I’ll say, “Coffee?”
You’ll say, “Yup!”
I’ll spend the next hour wondering what ‘Yup’ means before deciding that it’s some version of Yes.

============================
See the full version on YouTube here:
https://youtu.be/AR29Wc_KL9o

#performancepoetry #performer #spokenword #poetry #dating #love #relationships #date

Wisdom 23

I’m an early 90s baby
Brought up in a world full of atrocities common deception of the television that tell lies to your vision
so your imprisoned mentally stating fallacies of your own misconception
Fuck the next elections globally its a tradigy always ruled by companies
you really think they put a black man up to rule us all
they just preparing for the fall
planning for martial law
cops shooting innocent black folks now youngins are scared to go to the mall ..

Reserve banks
printing blanks
funding wars as they ship tanks
they want to kill the people who will
fight back and that’s point blank dropping bombs in Muslim lands decapitated bodies and flying hands as they demasculinize the black man make them wear dresses and call it a new brand

They don’t want Africa to prosper
plague it with new diseases and label it as a land full of monsters
unhygienic an filled with hot headed cretins hiding the triumphs of the cradle of civilization we had the biggest libraries the most profound sculptures they came in with bribery and left with our knowledge and that’s just one continent

the devil is two steps ahead
they contaminate our waters
causing bad blood between boders
and who do you think caused this
ofcourse the fake Jews did
I wouldn’t tell a lie search up
the thirteenth tribe then you would know which side you should reside …

its us against them I’m hoping we can settle our differences
.I’m talking to you Vladimir Putin
these western pagans
trying to riddle your country with sanctions don’t bend over like the other presidents if there is going to be a war let’s go out with a big bang just like the fireworks of the beginning of man

youtube

This is my entry for the first round of the Pangaea Poetry Slam!

If you enjoyed it please give the video a thumbs up as votes are counted via likes on the video.

Thank you so much.