African-American

All posts tagged African-American

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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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.

New adventures

Published September 16, 2015 by hrhdana

She woke up nervous.

“How will I know my new friends’ names? How will I know the rules? Will my teacher be nice? What if I don’t like their lunch?”

As soon as her eyes opened she was spitting questions at me. It was the first day of Pre-K. I kissed her furrowed brow and reassured her that everyone else would be new too. I told her that the teachers would play games so everyone could learn each other’s names. I told her that it would all be okay. It was an adventure.

She was unconvinced.

I helped her get her uniform on. She was quieter than usual.

“Will you stay with me today Mommy?”

“Mommies can’t stay at school baby girl. But I will drop you off today and I will pick you up later. You are a champion babygirl. You will be fine.”
Pre-K started on a Wednesday. I took the day off from work and we got there super early. My little likes to explore quietly in new situations. I got there early enough that she was the first kid in her classroom. The teacher was still putting things in to their places and making last minute adjustments to her bulletin boards.

“Please ignore us. I just wanted to give her a chance to explore before everyone came.”

The teacher smiled. She understood. She didn’t crowd my lil bit. She let her do her thing. We walked around looking at all of the different centers. We noticed the numbers in each center. “Four kids can play here Mommy. How will she pick which four?”

The teacher explained how free choice time would work. Nia seemed satisfied.

Kids started arriving with their parents. Nia and I were reading a book in the quiet area. She left me to explore her new classmates. She introduced herself to some kids and just jumped in playing with some others. The teacher called all of the kids to the rug. I stepped outside to answer her Dad’s call wondering how it was going. I stepped back in and my throat got tight. Looking at my little miracle sitting on the rug with the other kids in her uniform was emotional for me. She was listening so intently to the story. She was engaged. It was going to be okay. It was all going to be fine.

The teacher announced that it was time for adults to leave. I watched Nia’s face crack. It was easy to be brave knowing I was a few steps away but now I was leaving. She started sobbing. I went to her. I reminded her that, “Mommies always come back.” I whispered affirmations in her ear. “You are a champion. You are excellence. You can do anything. You are not afraid. Mommies ALWAYS come back.” She sobbed. “I just want you to stay. Can you please stay? Can you just hold me? Can you please stay Mommy? Please? Please? Please?” I knew that the longer I stayed the more upset she would become.

I made eye contact with the teacher who walked over to take her from me. I peeled her arms and legs off of me and with one last, “Mommies always come back. I’ll be back Nia,” I walked out of the classroom, out of the school and cried. Yes.  I cried. Hard. I know I have to encourage her to fly. I know that there will be times when I need to give her a little push to use those wings. I do it. It’s part of the job. But I am certain that it will NEVER be easy to walk away when she is literally begging me to stay. When I know that going back will comfort her even as it stifles her growth. Because that last part is the key. She has to grow. And I have to step away sometimes for that to happen.

At a new park she stays by my side, cautious. She will not interact with the kids she doesn’t know. She stays close to what is familiar. But if I leave, even if I only absent myself outside of the gate to a bench she will tentatively engage the other kids. She will explore the new slides and climbing structures. She will move forward. My presence keeps her frozen in place, close to the familiar. My distance helps her hurl herself into new situations. And she thrives in those new situations.

The first day of Pre-K was a half day. My Mom came with me to pick her up. As we walked in to the classroom she came running to us. She hugged us tight and introduced my Mom to her teacher. As we left the school she was quiet. She firmly held my Mom’s hand on one side and mine on the other. “How was school Lil Bit?” “It was good. I made friends. I like my teacher. But Mommy.”  “Yes love.” “I don’t need to go back there. Okay? I’ll go to work with  you tomorrow.”

I reminded her that school was HER job. She needed to come back the next day and keep learning everything that she could. She was quiet.

The next morning Nia was taking the school bus to school. I talked to her bus driver for 20 minutes the night before. I had questions. Was there a monitor on the bus? Did I need to send her car seat? How many kids are on the bus? Have you ever lost a kid? Do you know that I will hunt you down and skin you alive if you let someone bully my baby?

Okay so I didn’t say that last one but I promise you I was thinking it. Daddy talked up the bus with Nia getting her excited about her new adventure. The morning came and it was rainy. In my spirit that felt appropriate. What kind of Mom puts her 3 year old on the bus? What am I doing? Why don’t I change my hours at work so I can take her? What if something happens and I’m not there? I was the quiet one on Thursday morning. I was afraid to speak around the lump in my throat.

The bus came and she was so excited. We have been watching school buses forever and now she was FINALLY on one. She chattered excitedly as I boarded the bus behind her and buckled her in. She kissed me and made jokes with the bus driver as I snapped a quick picture. She waved and blew kisses as the bus pulled away. I stood, frozen, watching it leave, praying silently. Please protect her always Lord. Please keep her safe Father God. Please. Please. Please.

We survived. Both of us. We grew. Both of us.

I might have called the bus driver on his cell phone to make sure she got there safe. Don’t judge me.

This Mommy shit be hard ya’ll.

Nia

Hold my breath

Published August 26, 2015 by hrhdana

Sometimes I hold my breath

heart racing

watching my little girl

be free in the world.

And I wish I could remember

a time when I was.

And I wonder when

will it happen to her?

The first time

someone gives her the stank eye

for nothing more than her melanin.

It will happen.

I hold my breath

I wonder when?

When?

Ntozake said it best in For Colored Girls,

“Ever since I realized there was someone called a colored girl,

or an evil woman, a bitch, or a nag,

I’ve been trying not to be that,

and leave bitterness in someone else’s cup.”

But lately even sweet tea

tastes like bitterness to me.

I’m hurting.

Agony.

And I’m at a complete loss

on how to build my

beautiful,

confident,

smart,

amazing,

sensitive

little girl

strong enough that she can’t be broken

but not too strong

that her very existence is a challenge

to those who would

murder her

with impunity.

It’s a conundrum with no solution I can see.

And I can’t even exhale fully.

I can’t breathe

Sometimes I hold my breath.

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Down the rabbit hole

Published August 17, 2015 by hrhdana

Next month my Lil Bit is going to be four years old. I LOVE birthdays. I dislike children’s parties very much. LOL They are usually loud and crazy and expensive. Ever since I had a kid I’ve been looking at ways to celebrate that will make her happy and won’t make me insane. It’s a fine line folks.

For her 1st birthday we went to Puerto Rico. It was awesome and perfect. We spent the day on the beach. We chilled out. There was zero stress and everyone had a ball. We had a cake when we came back from P.R. with just family. I wanted to make traveling for her birthday our birthday tradition but when 2 rolled around money was scarce. I got roped in to the dreaded house party. It was loud and messy and by the end of the day she and I wanted to have huge tantrums. LOL I resolved not to do that again for as long as possible.

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Last year we went apple picking. I think I stumbled on to the perfect party for us. It was low maintenance. The kiddos had a blast. People could arrive whenever they wanted to. The setting was beautiful. I actually got to have conversations with the adults in attendance. Everyone left happy and tired. So this year we are going to do it again.

Phone dump March 2015 680
Then the kid threw a wrench in my plans.

“Mommy, can I have a My little pony party for my birthday?”

“I thought you wanted to go apple picking again this year.”

“I do but I want my little pony too”

Okay, I thought. I can do this. I’ll still do the apple orchard but I’ll buy SOME my little pony decorations and call it a day.

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If you know me you already know that this plan has dissolved in to madness. LOL I can see how parents go insane with the party planning. I have fallen down the rabbit hole. She wants My Little Pony. There must be My Little Pony. Right? I’ve already ordered a dress for her in keeping with the theme. I’ve started buying MLP stuff for goodie bags. I’ve enlisted a cake maker to make a MLP cake. I’ve been on Oriental Trading and Party city websites looking for MLP tablecloths and cups and plates and napkins. I’ve looked in to a face painter who can make MLP facepaintings. I even looked in to MLP characters to come to the party in the damn apple orchard! I need HELP! I have fallen down the kid party rabbit hole and I can not find the exit!

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Where oh where has my chill gone? Where oh where can it be? LOL

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I’d do anything to make my kid happy. I really would but I am stopping myself. She will be FOUR! I don’t even remember my 4th birthday party. I have no illusions that I can or should make it grand enough for HER to remember. I am putting myself on party planning time out.

3

We will go apple picking. She will wear her dress. There will be goodie bags. There will be cake. Everyone will go home with apples and Mommy WILL retain her sanity.

3

Anyone know how to block party planning websites? Because even as I prepare to hit post I’m wondering about some cupcakes I saw on Pinterest and I’ve almost convinced myself that I can make them. Mommy down! Mommy down!

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Send help!!!!!!

She holds my hand

Published August 11, 2015 by hrhdana

We walk to the bus every morning.

Monday through Friday.

I am so lucky.

She holds my hand.

Sometimes

proudly

fiercely

reverently

lovingly.

She clings to me.

When something catches her eye

a spiderweb,

a beautiful flower,

or even a

a beetle

she lets go.

Runs to explore.

Her face lights up.

3 year old exclaiming

MOMMY LOOK AT THIS!!!

And I look.

When she is ready to go again

she reaches for my hand.

I am lucky.

Today my right hip is wet.

It’s raining.

Her umbrella comes right up to my hip.

And even though she was holding it

tightly

excitedly

She had to hold my hand

TOO.

She holds my hand.

Her umbrella bumps against my hip,

It’s wet.

I don’t complain.

Grounded in the moments where

she holds my hand

as if there were no other way to

walk down the street.

She holds my hand.

And even with my wet hip.

I smile big.

She holds my hand.

081

Warrior Women

Published August 10, 2015 by hrhdana

“I just don’t believe that when people are being unjustly oppressed that they should let someone else set rules for them by which they can come out from under that oppression.”
Malcolm X

On Saturday Marissa Johnson and Mara Willaford interrupted Bernie Sanders at a rally in Seattle. As he prepared to take the mic the women jumped on the stage and demanded the right to speak. Sanders ceded the stage to the women. Marissa went on to give a passionate speech about the Black Lives Matter movement. She said she wanted to talk about how racist Seattle is but some in the crowd had already done that for her with their jeers and screams of, “arrest them.” Really? Arrest them?!!  With EVERYTHING going on right now people actually called for the arrest of these two women for grabbing the mic at a rally. Arrest them? How positively clueless.

I watched the internet explode. A day that was supposed to be filled with remembrances and lessons learned from the murder of Mike Brown in Ferguson was completely derailed by a bevy of clueless allies who didn’t get it and a gaggle of scared Black people who wanted these women to be more polite. There were copious tears for Bernie. “He’s been so good to us.” “He is the only candidate who cares about us and our issues.” “Why attack an ally?” And my personal favorite, “Bernie must have been so frightened. It was like an assault.”

housewives-roll

Here’s my take on things..
Bernie is the one constantly mentioning how he has fought for civil rights all of his life. I mean seriously, it should be part of his name if we counted the frequency with which he and his supporters use this as his claim to fame. The REASON Black people should vote for Bernie is that he cares about “our” issues. If this is true then he wouldn’t be so caught off guard by the passion in the two interruptions he has experienced. Sanders responded that he was, “especially disappointed because on criminal justice reform and the need to fight racism there is no candidate who will fight harder than me.” (Quoted from here)

How can you fight when you won’t listen? How can you fight if you don’t understand the passion and yes the ANGER that we are feeling in this exact moment in time? An ally amplifies the voices of the people they are supporting. An ally uses their privilege to make sure that the voices of the people they are standing with are heard loud and clear. An ally is supposed to be a bridge to others who do NOT understand. Those people were there to hear Bernie. He could have done a number of things to earn his status as an ally. He did none. He ceded the stage. He didn’t share it.

Sanders wants us to see him as a civil rights warrior but war isn’t polite. We are fighting for our lives. If you want to appeal to us as a voting block by using your record as a civil rights crusader then you should not be this tone deaf. You should not be this divorced from the emotion propelling this fight to every stage in America. You should not run. You should not wag your finger. You should not expect us to be composed when we are being murdered in the streets. You should understand that there are a gamut of responses to injustice and not all of them are polite.

To those of you wondering why these women choose Sanders and not some other candidate I can’t answer with certainty. No one has interviewed these women. Shit, just finding their names was a struggle. I’d imagine it was because HE was in Seattle. It’s probably because he CLAIMS to be down with us. I’d posit it’s because they thought he would listen and care. I’d think it’s because he is being touted as an ally. But their reasons don’t even matter to me. Sanders is not my savior. He is a man running for the office of president in a country currently experiencing an internal conflict of epic proportions. He is the candidate everyone keeps telling us Black people is our best choice. He is the candidate who keeps highlighting his work on civil rights like a line on his resume.

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Listen folks, I know Black anger is scary to a bunch of people. Shit, even some Black people are uncomfortable with it. I listen to our young people. A huge segement of them are FED up. They are angry. They are TIRED of asking politely for people to stop murdering us with impunity. They are tired of wondering who is going to be the next hashtag and they are ready to tear shit up. I worry for them. What I will not do is silence them. What I will not do is judge them. What I will not do is tell them to be safe. NONE of us are safe right now and we all know it. Respectability politics is bullshit.

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Yesterday I saw so many white people claim they would no longer support Black Lives Matter because they were disgusted by the behavior of TWO Black women. Listen, if that was all it took to take you out of the fight for Black lives then you were never in it. You were NEVER with us. Yesterday I saw some Black people use words like “embarrassed” to express their feelings about these two women’s refusal to be silenced. If you are Black and you were embarrassed by two women willing to put their necks on the line to get a message to power I honestly have no clue what to even do with you. Do you honestly believe that Sanders is going to be our savior? Do you honestly believe that we should be GRATEFUL to those in power who pay lip service to believing that our LIVES actually fucking matter? Do you believe that so called allies using our fucking civil rights struggle as a resume entry don’t have to DO anything else? Man listen, all skinfolk ain’t kinfolk!

Oh and for those of you lamenting that, this is NOT the way to get change or to get a candidate to listen to your concerns…

This was Bernie Sanders’ website BEFORE Marissa and Mara stormed the stage.

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And this is what it looked like after they spoke truth to power.

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Here’s to warrior women. May we love them. May we support them. May we raise them. May we BE them!

Any war has to be fought on multiple fronts. These women chose theirs. Where and how are YOU fighting?