Being Black in America is…

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This is not the dream!

Published January 18, 2016 by hrhdana

This is not the dream.
And I can no longer be content
to clap for scraps
thrown to people who look like me.
We are deserving.
Not 3/5ths!
Whole people.
Still auditioning
For our humanity
to be recognized.
Citizens of this nation.
This is not the dream!

When people in Flint are being systematically murdered
by unclean water
laying generational curses
while politicians tell outright lies.
Convince them not to believe their own eyes.
People die.
Their babies will reap the impact
of poison
ingested
bathed in
breathed.
Purposefully poisoned
This is NOT the dream!

When griots and record keepers can’t even keep all the names straight
of innocents murdered in police “mistakes”
When the system investigates
and finds itself not guilty
time after time after time after time after time.
This is NOT fine.
This is NOT the dream!
Not why he died.

When the leading candidate for the Republican Party is unapologetically anti.
Anti me, Anti you,
Anti truth.
And he fills stadiums
with hate.
This is NOT the dream.

And I weep
for the man, the reverend
who sacrificed his life
believing we would make it to the mountain top.
But they just keep moving the fucking mountain.
And we?
We clap for scraps.
Indictments
with no teeth.
Not living on the street.
Having enough to eat.
This is NOT the dream!

This is not the dream!
Oscars so white
Trending
People of color raging
Begging
To be acknowledged and seen.
Conforming
only to realize
you lost the best parts of you
and gained
nothing.
This is NOT the dream!

And some will read this
comment with words like progress.
And I’ll shrug.
I guess.
But in my heart I know they have acquiesced.
Believing the party line.
Look how good some of you have it
You’ll be fine.
Exceptions dangled to make you blind.
This is NOT the dream!

When Black parents are still educating their children
on how to NOT get killed by the wrong officer
Sons AND daughters.

I ask you,
How could THIS be the dream?
When shoes are worn out from marching,
calluses from letter writing,
fatigue from voter line waiting,
new Poll tests passing legislatures.
How could THIS be the dream?

This is NOT the dream!
I won’t pretend it is.
Keep your celebrations.
I have
letters to write,
marches to attend.
trials to protest.
I’m dreaming new dreams
based in reality.

Dreams of
Safety.

Because this?
This is NOT the dream!!!!

 

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My Confession

Published December 29, 2015 by hrhdana

When I heard about Tamir getting murdered my first thought was,
“What Black parent lets their little boy play with a toy gun outside?”
I am ashamed of that thought.
I have held it inside for over a year now.
Afraid to admit it out loud.

I am well trained in the ways of my birthplace.
America.
There are places inside of me that are well colonized.
Black children can’t be children
if we want them to live.

Black parents can’t let them play outside with toy guns
these babies are already wrapped in that scary melanin.
I blamed his parents.
It didn’t last long.

The facts were clear even BEFORE the video was released.
He was a boy, playing with a toy.
And even if he wasn’t
Ohio is an open carry state.
He was breaking no laws.

American boys have played with guns since there were guns.
Playing grown up games with a childhood spin…
pretending…
to shoot the bad guys
or be the bad guys.
It’s as American as apple pie
to see a little one pretending to shoot.

We play along.
We clutch our chests.
You.got.me.
We pretend to die
dramatically.
Neglecting
to tell them
that this play
is not for them.

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Not for Americans
with melanin.
One more American experience denied
You can not play like your friends.
You can not be rude.
You can not talk back.
You can not stand up.
You can not be 12 years old
in a public park
playing with a toy
found in most homes in America.

And if you do.
If you dare to be
an American boy
playing with a common toy
you will be murdered.
Your family will be denied justice.

You will bleed and scream and cry alone
for FOUR agonizing minutes.
Your big sister 2 years older than you
will be tackled to the ground,
handcuffed and placed in a police car
for trying to hold you
for fighting to get to you
for responding to your pain.

Tamir, little brother.
We failed you.
And I blamed you.
I blamed your parents.
I am ashamed.
Well trained.
Complicit in my own inequality.
Participating.
Acknowledging.
Supporting
that OUR children
should be denied parts of the American dream
because we want them to live.

And sorry
is bullshit!
Doesn’t begin to cover it.

I want MY little girl
to be free
but even more
I want her to be
alive.

So I sit
sick
complicit
indicting myself
serving time
reading books
searching for answers.

I wipe tears I didn’t know were falling.
Tamir, Mother Samaria I have no words.
I offer
my heart,
my confession,
sincere blessings.
And I promise
I will never stop speaking his name.
And I will honor his memory all of my days.

He was murdered.
His murderer is free.
No indictment from the grand jury.
Hard to speak.

Black lives matter
in more than theory.

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I’m sorry Sandy

Published December 22, 2015 by hrhdana

Her name was Sandra Bland.

Those who knew and loved her called her Sandy.

And I can tell you honestly

She is me and I am she.

Outspoken about the injustices happening to our people

Sandy couldn’t sit quietly

nothing meek about she.

She spoke

loudly,

intelligently,

passionately.

Sandy speaks

she still speaks to me.

 

Her life mattered.

And I won’t recap the details

all of the things absolutely wrong

with her traffic stop and arrest.

But I will say this

Her life absolutely mattered.

Black women’s lives matter.

And

I won’t

I can’t

force you to care.

We were born here.

As much claim to this land as my unmelinated neighbors

but the point can’t be belabored

justice is not equal here.

Black citizens live in fear

of flashing red lights

of cops whose minds ain’t right.

And no, not all cops.

Not by a long shot.

But it only takes one to take all I’ve got.

 

And me

Being a woman.

There will be no universality

Among those who fight against the injustices done to those who look like me.

No national Trayvon level galvanizing.

So I will continue to scream

Black women’s lives matter.

And I will speak their names

Again and again and again and again.

 

Sandra Bland, 28 in Texas

Kendra James, 21 in Oregon

Shereese Francis, 29 in New York City

Tanisha Anderson, 37 in Cleveland

Yvette Smith 47 in Texas

Natasha McKenna , 37 in Virginia

Rekia Boyd, 22 in Chicago

Shelly Frey 27-in Houston.

Darnisha Harris was only a teenager in Louisiana

Malissa Williams, 30 in Cleveland

Alesia Thomas 35 in Los Angeles

Shantel Davis 23  in  New York City

Aiyana Stanley-Jones  only 7 years old in Detroit

Tarika Wilson, 26 in Ohio

Kathryn Johnson  92 in Atlanta

Alberta Spruill 57 in New York City

I could keep going but I feel sick.

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Black women’s lives matter.

I will tell their stories

I will nurture the light of their memories

all the days of my life.

Black

LIFE

matters.

Dearest Mother Samaria

Published November 23, 2015 by hrhdana

Sister Samaria

I wish I could hug you

my arms

wrapped around your body

heart to heart.

Mother to mother.

There are no words.

Nothing that can ease the burden you now live with

Nothing can fill the emptiness in your household.

I’m so sorry.

Lord knows I am so sorry.

But those words are insufficient.

Living in a country

that can justify

the unjustifiable.

A court system that says no wrong was done

And yet you live without your son.

12 years old

And gone.

My heart weeps.

I wish I could hold you.

Mourn beside you.

Form a fence around you.

Burn shit down for you.

He was a boy

playing with a toy.

He didn’t have a chance

to comply.

And the fact that the entire nation

doesn’t rage

doesn’t grieve

doesn’t open their arms

doesn’t stand in solidarity with you

is a secondary crime.

The fact that your boy was denied

comfort in his last moments of life

another crime.

I wish I could hold you.

The whole damn system is guilty!

And Tamir

is gone

There is NOTHING justified about it.

NOT

ONE

THING.

Mother to Mother

I wish I could hold you.

I’m thinking of you

lending you all of the love and light in my heart.

This Thursday when I sit down with my family

I’ll be thinking of you and of yours.

I’ll be setting an extra place at the table

to remind us all.

We all we got.

It’s not enough

and everything

all at once.

Broken

Published June 18, 2015 by hrhdana

Literally paralyzed by grief
Tears sting
Can’t see.
On my way to work
No peace.
Bus comes
Can’t move
Not safe
What do I do?
He sat in church and prayed
Watched little kids play
Said amen
Heard the Word
Then opened fire.

I can imagine the confusion
The
screaming
begging
pleading.
He reloads.
No soul.

Little girl plays dead
Five years old.
How did she know?
I can’t stop crying
Don’t ask me to
Unreasonable

Bus comes 30 minutes later.
I rise
Wet eyes
Board a bus
Full of us
The only place I’ll hear our grief today.

Broken

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The Black experience

Published June 17, 2015 by hrhdana

So the topic of the moment is “the Black experience” and what that means. I’m not even going to get started on how that conversation is only happening because a white woman tried to co-opt Blackness.  I’m not going to mention that the only reason that some White people are even ASKING this question is because they are fascinated and appalled that someone WANTED to be Black. I’m not going to talk about how this question being asked and answered is steeped in white supremacy and systematic racism. Nope. I’m not going to talk about any of that. Nope. Not today.

I do want to talk about the Black experience. I want to describe it. I want to explain why it can’t be stolen. I want to explain why it isn’t a costume a person can put on and become real.

Black childhood is an integral part of Black experience. We all start off innocent. Race is something children see but it doesn’t impact them. It’s just what we are. I watch my almost 4 year old play with her friends of different races and ethnicities and the differences don’t matter to them.  They might remark on differences in skin tone or hair color but there is no malice in it. Kids are kids. Race is irrelevant unless they have been taught that it is not.  As we grow up and interact with the world we bump up against the world at large and it’s perceptions of race. I remember the first time I heard the n word. I was in 3rd grade. I came home and asked my Mom what it meant. I knew it was an insult from the way the person said it but I didn’t know why.

Depending on how the world highlights your Blackness to you it molds us all differently. Some of us strive for acceptance, some fight and indict the entire system, some try to assimilate, some give up. Having your innocence broken by the racist systems of this country is a part of MOST if not all Black coming of age stories. I remember the first time a teacher hurled my Blackness at me in the classroom. I remember the feeling. I remember realizing that this person didn’t like me simply because of the color of my skin. I remember the hurt. I remember it vividly. I can tell you what color his tie was. That’s how vividly I remember it.

To be Black in America is to be simultaneously hated and envied by others. The Black experience is beautiful in our enclaves where we eat great food, laugh, listen to music, support each other and speak life to each other. The Black experience is watching that truth be lost and lied about in main stream media which reduces us to thugs and hoes and claims us all illiterate and illegitimate. To be Black in America is to be held down and held back and made an exception to some racist rule when we succeed in spite of the boots on our neck.

To be Black in America is to start behind the rest of the folks at the starting line. Money can move you closer to the start line. If you come from money and you are Black you get a little closer but you are still Black. You are still starting behind. Does this mean we can’t win? Nope. We prove it all the time. We can and do win in spite of the obstacles in our paths but even on the winner’s podium people will deny that you had to run harder and faster while dodging obstacles your opponents didn’t have. To be Black in America is to be forced to cling to your truth in the knowledge that others may NEVER embrace it.

The Black experience is schizophrenic in many ways. I’m proud and happy and grateful to be a member of this group. But I’m also always in a rage against the many micro and major aggressions we face daily. Have you ever had a drip in your faucet? Those little drops of water can stain your sink basin. Just little drops of water hitting the same spot over and over and over. That’s what microaggressions are like. Things like people touching your hair, questioning your background, being shocked that you attended college, making assumptions about your marital status, asking questions about the hood etc etc etc. These things have a way of constantly othering you.. Constantly letting you know you are different. And most of these are delivered with a smile. If you dare to be angry well then you are overreacting and now you have become the angry Black woman. It’s exhausting ya’ll.

The Black experience is to know that we have no rights that cops or really anyone is bound to accept. The Black experience is feeling unsafe when a police cruiser passes you. The Black experience as a parent is knowing that you can not protect your child from overzealous police officers or neighborhood watch men with guns. It is a powerlessness that renders you impotent. So you instruct your child on ways to survive these encounters, knowing that even compliance will not guarantee their survival.

The Black experience is a choice between white washing our names or knowingly facing housing and employment discrimination.

The Black experience is more than hair or music. The Black experience is more than adopting Black children. The Black experience is NOT a feeling it’s an actual thing. And although there is variety in it (like any other culture) it is a very real thing. You can not co-opt it. You can not wear it like a costume. You can not lie your way in to it. It’s all bad and all good at the same time. And THAT is the truth.

And even writing all of THAT you won’t understand it if you don’t LIVE it

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Imagine

Published April 30, 2015 by hrhdana
Imagine
 
You are at work and you get a phone call from your 15 year old child.
“Mommy they let us out of school but there are no buses to get home. Police in riot gear are at the bus stop yelling that we need to leave. Where do I go Mommy? I’m scared.”
 
Imagine.
 
You are sitting at your desk at work when you get this call.
 
Imagine
 
You tell your child to go back inside the school. “I am coming to get you. Go inside the school and wait for me.”
 
Imagine
 
You tell your boss you have to leave. You gather your things. You run to the car that you are lucky enough to own when your phone rings again.
 
“Mommy the school won’t let me back inside. I don’t know what to do.”
 
Imagine
 
As your child cries on the phone your mind races.
“Find a store. Go in the mall. Go somewhere safe. Somewhere inside.”
 
Imagine
 
As you race towards the school your phone rings twice more with your child detailing the places she has been denied entrance. In the background you hear cops screaming, kids screaming and the sickening thud of things banging.
 
Imagine
 
When you get to the area of your child’s school you can not drive in. Streets are closed to traffic. So you park illegally and run the blocks to your child, huddled against a building with 4 of her friends. As you walk them out of the danger zone you see kids with no adult presence for them. You see cops in full riot gear. You hear helicopters. You see a kid throw a rock. You see cops throw rocks back at kids. You are stopped by a cop who wants to know where you are going with these kids.
 
Imagine.
 
You finally get home. You turn on the TV to see that the situation devolved in to the mayhem you knew that it would. The children are being vilified and no one is even interested in the truth.
 
Imagine.
 
Now open your eyes to reality.  THIS HAPPENED! our country. This is what happened in Baltimore. This land is your land. This is the genesis of the “riot” that burned that beloved (sarcasm) CVS to the ground. (May it rest in peace)

This is what greeted 13 to 18 year olds who had planned a peaceful after school protest. THIS!
Protests Continue After Death Of Baltimore Man While In Police Custody


If you are not actively doing something to help you are part of the problem. Your involvement can run the spectrum from sharing truth with the misinformed to marching to letter writing to activism. Spread truth. Refuse to be steamrolled by propaganda. This is OUR country. Wake up.

Baltimore uprising.
Justice for Freddie