Time to write

Published March 29, 2016 by hrhdana

I’ve been dying to find time to write. This new job is a huge adjustment. I have so much to learn and if you know me you know that I want to know it all yesterday. I don’t have time to do anything personal at work because I am trying to learn all of the things and because we have a real deal IT department here and I’m scared of their tracking software. LOL I have yet to manage being able to carve out time to write at home and parent. I sit at the computer at home and she has a million things she has to tell me and about 3 million questions about what I am doing.

Today, my supervisors are in meetings, the office is quiet and I finally have time to write. I sit down excited and open my word doc.

Nothing.

Isn’t it funny how that happens? And by funny I mean infuriating. Hmph

So I guess I’ll tell you all about the new gig. I’m working for an established nonprofit organization. It started out as an orphanage in the 1800s and has grown in to a huge company that provides services to kids, families and people with developmental disabilities. I am proud to work here. Amazing work is being done here daily. The emphasis is always on the people we are serving. Training is continuous and thorough. Ethics run through every single policy. This work matters and although I’m not working directly with the people we serve I am so proud to be a part of the process.

The department that I work in is all about quality improvement. We help all of our programs to stay in compliance with local, state and federal regulations. We conduct all internal and external investigations. We write manuals. We make recommendations for places where programs can improve. Yup, everyone hates us. LOL It’s like working in internal affairs. All of my coworkers have been super welcoming and it’s always so funny to watch their reactions when I tell them what department I work in.

I walk around the campus at least twice a day. I make small talk with the kids who live on campus and those who attend school here. I’m grateful to be here. I’m excited about this new adventure and I wake up excited to come to work each day. But it’s early yet. Giggles Check back with me in a few months. J

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.

New fairy tales

Published November 24, 2015 by hrhdana

When I was a little girl my Mommy read me fairy tales.
Princes on horses who would come and save me.
Brave men who traveled great distances
to save princesses.
The princesses were always blond
blue eyes
thin thighs.
Nothing like me.
But I believed.
And I wanted desperately
to be saved.
No decisions to make
no battles to face
a brave prince
that would cover me
ride me in to my happily
ever after on his brave and reliable steed.
I kissed frog after frog after frog after frog
waiting
believing
He was coming
to absolve me
of decision making.
I put the responsibility
of me
in the wrong hands
time after time after time after time after time.

And do you know who saved me?
Sisters.
Blood and by choice.
Helped me find my voice
cleaned my wounds
pointed me at the mirror
YOU ARE CAPABLE!
BEAUTIFUL!
POWERFUL!
YOU ARE ABLE!
And I didn’t believe them.
Kept looking on the horizon
for the prince I just knew was coming.
But my sisters
they were there.
Showing up. Reflecting care.
Loving me more than I did.
Cleaning tears
biting back the “I told you sos.”
Nothing but helpful.
They understood.

I’m writing new books for my daughter.
Princes are amazing.
But your sisters?
Babygirl your sisters
are EVERYTHING!
Choose them wisely.
Listen earnestly.
They give selflessly.
And they never leave.
My fairy tales for my princess girl
are about sisters who stand by her side
eyes open brimming with pride.
Brave and true.
Slaying dragons AND looking fly.
Scared but brave
not afraid to cry.
Look to your sisters babygirl
leave the frogs for the other girls who do not know.

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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.

Why Mommy?

Published November 18, 2015 by hrhdana

Yesterday my four year old asked me why people kill other people. I thought she was sleeping. I had the news on. She must have been awake and listening for a while. I had no clue. Her innocent little voice broke the spell that I was under. I had been transfixed to the television listening intently to the stories of the people who lost their lives in Paris. I turned to her. I opened my arms so she could climb in to my lap. I kissed her forehead. I inhaled deeply and said a quick prayer for guidance.

 

I was so unprepared. We have been so vigilant with the t.v. and news coverage. We have worked hard to keep it all away from her. We have taken turns going upstairs to watch the news while the other parent keeps her occupied. Innocence is so fleeting. The ugliness of the world will touch her eventually, but not yet, we kept thinking. Not yet. But here it was. She had heard. She wanted answers.

I rambled. I spoke about good and evil. I leaned on our faith and our trust in God. I spoke about love being stronger than hate. I spoke about angry people who make angry choices. I simplified it so much that my words were honestly a lie. But how do I explain Syria and terrorism to a 4 year old when I barely understand it myself? It was beyond me in that moment but I tried.

“But when people die they are gone forever? Why would someone do that to people?”

 

The lump in my throat and the pain in my heart precluded conversation.

“I don’t know baby. I honestly do not know.” I cried. Quiet tears running down my face as I held her and rocked her.

I keep thinking about that conversation. My Little Bit is a thinker and I know she will have more questions for me soon. I want to be ready. I’ve been practicing answers in my head and in my journal. See, I want to be honest with her. I want to share as much truth with her as she can handle. I don’t want her to have to unlearn the things her Mommy told her. I don’t want her to bump in to the ugly truths of the world on a college campus or in a high school classroom. I want to be honest.

 

So, here’s my answer…
“Babygirl people can be incredibly mean to each other. It’s always been that way. Remember that little girl on your bus who hurt your feelings and made fun of you? There was no reason for her meanness. You didn’t do anything wrong to her. She was mean. And it was wrong. Remember how we talked about how sad it was that she didn’t give you a chance to be her friend? Remember how we considered that maybe someone in her life was mean to her? Maybe no one taught her how to make friends. Maybe she was sad and angry inside and she just took it out on you.

Sometimes that happens with people. Some people grow up in other countries where they are treated unfairly. Some people live in places where it is incredibly dangerous to live. Sometimes they watch people they love get hurt or killed just because they live there. It makes them hurt and sad and angry. And they have every right to feel hurt and sad and angry because what is happening to them is wrong.

And some of these people blame us. They are angry that we don’t do anything to stop the people who are hurting the people they love. They are angry that our government helps the people who are hurting and killing the people they love. They are angry that their kids are growing up scared. And they aren’t wrong. We didn’t hurt their loved ones but we didn’t stop it either.

These people want to hurt us. They want us to feel what they feel. They want us to be scared. They want us to know how it feels to lose people we love. They want us to make the people hurting their loved ones stop. It doesn’t make sense to us. Why would they hurt innocent people? Why would they hurt people who didn’t hurt them?

It doesn’t make sense to us. But it should. If we took a moment to think about what it’s like to live where they live and to watch the world ignore your pain we might understand their anger. If someone hurt you or someone else I loved it might make me incredibly angry.

What they did is wrong. Killing people is always wrong. But their pain isn’t wrong. Their anger at us for ignoring their pain isn’t wrong. Their anger at the people in charge of our country isn’t wrong. People kill people because they are angry. They are hurting. People kill people because their pain is ignored. They kill because the world isn’t paying attention to their pain and it seems to just go on and on forever.

You see how sad everyone is about what happened in Paris? I don’t know how much you heard on the news but everyone is sad about the people who died. People are leaving flowers and notes. People are crying and hugging each other. And people are angry about what happened. The people in charge of Paris are already dropping bombs and hurting the people who live in the country the killers came from. No one is crying for them. And this just makes more angry people who want to kill.

The world has always been like this Little Bit. I don’t know how long it will take for the people in charge to realize that hurting each other doesn’t fix anything. I wish I could promise that it won’t happen again. All we can do is try to fill the world with as much love as possible. All we can do is try to tell the people in charge of our country that we don’t want to be in the business of hurting people. All we can do is focus on the humanity of every person.

And Little Bit, we trust in God. We believe that it is our job not to be afraid but to trust in God. We believe it is our job to spread love. We grieve for the people who lost their lives but we believe that they are in heaven. Sometimes the world is full of scary things but we trust God. We will be okay Little Bit. We will always be okay. Bad things will happen but we will trust in God.