Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Let Young People Fire It Up

If you see a young person who is energized and active, please do not shoot down their dreams. Please don't tell them to " calm down" . Please don't tell them to be diplomatic. Please don't blow out their flame. I understand as you get older you become desensitized and worn out. But please do not project this on young people. Please stop putting young people in a box. Please stop forcing young people to "grow up" and "face reality" aka give-up. Young people are the agents of change. Young people keep movement alive. Young people are refreshing. We need more energized young people in such a cold/hostile world. Young people are not blinded by reality, they just have a different lens than you.
The world can turn you cold, let the young people fire it up. Inspire the youth. They are the future.

Young Black Girl

Young Black Girl with Heart.

Let it pump.

Let the Blood Flow.

Please don't suffocate her.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Hate-Love Relationship with “Male Feminists"

This past year I have lost a good chunk of “nice male friends” who claimed to be feminist and allies but ended up as misogynoir abusers. The hardest cut does not come from the cultural appropriation by white women or the fetishization by white men, but the lack of comradery by black men.

The inability for black men to recognize their male privilege has been a hard pill to swallow. The deepest cut is from those who know better but choose not to do better. Those who claim to be allies of the feminist community end up dominating your spaces and silencing your voice. They use the same tactics that white people use to silence black people about race to silence you about gender. While I believe people are entitled to self-identification, I am not sure if a man can ever truly be a feminist. I believe the healthiest relationship with black men is through allyship. I have put my trust in too many black male allies only to end up with the short end of the stick. It seems that a lot of black men only want a feminism that is convenient to them.

Some claim to agree with the framework of feminism but not in the methods women use to achieve their humanity. Some claim to understand the framework of feminism yet feel compelled and entitled to give their input and validation on whether you are representing the framework of feminism.

Many want the ability to re-center feminist issues around them. They want to amplify their own voices at the expense of silencing the voices of black women. This is not healthy allyship. Men have to be willing to listen to women and believe them when they speak out about their experiences. This requires humility and discomfort. This is especially hard for black men because they face discrimination in other spaces. However, the requirement for allyship is the ability to listen and accept what is being said.

Azealia Banks bravely spoke about the erasure of Black woman. She discussed the longing to exist, the ability to have agency/control over her identity, and the freedom and the autonomy to speak out about issues that effect her livelihood. Yet she was met with a lot of misogynoir and anti-blackness. Many black rappers came to the defense of Iggy while writing Azealia Banks off as an “ Angry Black Woman” who was ranting/whining about her album not selling. Azealia Banks represents every black woman who has dared to speak out and in turn faced backlash. To be a black woman and have a voice is revolutionary. 

This erasure Azealia spoke about is something black women face everyday when they speak out about their abuse and try to create their own spaces. There are very few spaces for black women to openly express themselves without facing backlash. However, when black women let the few black men in this space, the trust is continuously broken.

When male dominance is challenged, men are often defensive and experience a range of emotional stresses. The most common responses are anger, apprehension, and guilt. These emotions are built off of male fragility / weak male ego. When women or other men do not reinforce male dominance but rather critique its existence, men are unable to constructively respond because they don’t understand the paradigm in which sexism works. Sexism is not subjective. Sexism isnt solely based on how a woman " feels" about the way a man treats her. Sexism is part of a wider institutionalized structure built on the premise that men are superior to women. This ideology is manifested in many different ways whether we are aware of it or not ( both men and women).  Male is normal/dominant and any break from this norm is met with hostility and resistance.

As I said, many black men use the same silencing tactics on black women as white people use on blacks when discussing race. 

-When a man is told that his view is sexist or through a patriarchal lens, he claims objectivity and calls the woman irrational or bias.

- When a woman is speaking about her negative experiences with men, he enters her space and states not all men because it challenges his individuality as a man.

- When women refuse to coddle men’s feelings or “calmly” express their justified anger on abuse, she is called angry, bxtch, bitter, crazy, deranged, tactless.

- When women no longer feel comfortable or safe engaging in conversation/debate, men demand answers and responses. When she does not respond she is referred to as close-minded/bias because of the institutionalized entitlement to women. There is this belief that a women should always be available and open to men ( whether that be physical,sexual, or emotional). Thus, when a women refuses to continuously engage, men display defense mechanisms. 

- When men challenge other men on their sexist views, these men are called homophobic slurs (gay, faggot, soft) , feminine slurs (pussy, bxtch) or they are questioned about whether they “get play from women”

- When men are called out for their sexist beliefs, they respond with the fact that they cherish/love the women in their lives ( mom, sister, grandmother, girlfriend). However these same men are unable to acknowledge the humanity of other women who do not have relation with them. 

- When men see women dominating in academia, work, or home settings, this threatens their position of power and they respond with slurs or anger.

Black women face different forms of oppression. Black women deal with the oppression of being 1) Racism= Black 2) Sexism= Women and 3) Racism= Black Women. Black women deal with specific stereotypes such as the “strong black woman” or “angry black woman” . Both of these stereotypes are harmful because while the strong black woman purports the idea that black women are able to juggle and take care of everyone (before her own needs), the “ angry black woman” limits her ability to express her pain in fear of being dehumanized. Black women are not seen as fully-functioning human beings able to express emotion. Either they are too “strong” to experience pain or they are too “ angry” to vocalize that pain. Black women are consistently silenced while Black men are praised for their passion and revolutionary thought.

If Black men want to be allies they have to be willing to understand the specific ways that black women experience abuse within their communities and outside of their communities (domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, hypersexualization, beauty conformity, cultural appropriation, caricature, erasure, street harassment, sexual harassment, racially profiled). These topics are extremely personal to Black women and it is difficult for black women to emotionally detach from these topics (hence Azealia raw and empowering yet emotional interview).  If Black men are unable to enter Black Femme spaces without demanding attention, ignoring historical and structural violence, and reasserting their privilege, they are not welcome.  Black men have to be willing to accept the autonomy of black women. They are not in the position to comment on what women should do with her hair or her body. They are under no authority to paint or request an image of a “respectable women”. These types of assertions and opinions only work to reinforce patriarchy and male dominance. They harm femme spaces by re-centering the discussion around what men think feminist should do (similar to white people discussing what black people should do).

Just like black women are unlearning the socialized concept of gender and learning about the different ways patriarchy manifest, male allies have to also constantly unlearn and relearn. While I recognize there is an important space for black men to be able to deconstruct their masculinity and the harmful effects of patriarchy on men, black men must learn to do so in a way that does not silence or take over black femme spaces. We both have to continuously challenge what we’ve been taught and find comfort in discomfort. I don’t know that men and women can ever fully remove themselves from the constructs of patriarchy, however we can both continue to push against it.

Often times oppressed people become blind to other oppressed groups. This is why intersectionality is important. We experience the world differently and we should be able to recognize those differences without harming one another. Feminism stands for the liberation of all oppressed people and we have understand eachother in order to free everyone. 


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

I am.

I am a human being. We are human beings. Black people are human beings.I am a human being. We are human beings. Black people are human beings. I am a human being. We are human beings. Black people are human beings. I am a human being. We are human beings. Black people are human beings. I am a human being. We are human beings. Black people are human beings. I am a human being. We are human beings. Black people are human beings. I am a human being. We are human beings. Black people are human beings. I am a human being. We are human beings. Black people are human beings. I am a human being. We are human beings. Black people are human beings. I am a human being. We are human beings. Black people are human beings. I am a human being. We are human beings. Black people are human beings. I am a human being. We are human beings. Black people are human beings. I am a human being. We are human beings. Black people are human beings. I am a human being. We are human beings. Black people are human beings. I am a human being. We are human beings. Black people are human beings.

Dont Romanticize Change.

"It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains." - Assata Shakur

I repeat these words to myself everyday. Everyday I remind myself that I am worthy. I am a human being even when the world says otherwise. As a black woman and a law student it is really difficult for me to put into words the blatant miscarriage of justice.  It is really difficult to walk into my law school classroom and pretend everything is okay. It is really difficult to sit side by side with my law school colleagues and witness no outrage. To witness zero discontent. It is even more difficult to witness complacency from some of my brothers and sisters. I often feel alone. I often feel hopeless. But I guess that is normal.

Sometimes I feel like a walking contradiction. How can I integrate into a system that is not built to protect me? How can I fight injustices from inside the system when my progress is in the hands of someone who has no respect for my humanity? What good is equipping myself with the resources and tools, if I am watching the law be administered unjustly and judged by people who do not see value in my humanity?

I used to make the excuse that when I just “ made it”. When I just got “ to the top”, that I then would speak out. I would then become outraged. But over the last few years I have been compelled over and over and over again to use my voice and ignite the injustices that are happening in my community everyday. I no longer believe in respectability politics. President Barack Hussein Obama is arguably the most powerful man in the world and cannot openly condemn injustice and speak for disenfranchised groups.

I will raise my voice by any means necessary. I will use my resources by any means necessary. Some may disagree with that and again that is fine. But no amount of respectability politics will prevent your boss or supervisor from one day firing you because they felt like it. No amount of begging, pleading, or acts of surrender will prevent a police officer from killing you in broad daylight with no impunity.  Everyday you are under a microscope and that is a tool of oppression.

I believe that everyone has a part to play. I believe silence is complicity. I believe normalcy is complicity. I have said this before. I fully believe in reclaiming my blackness and womanhood wherever I go. I fully believe in discomfort. I do not believe change can happen when people are comfortable. 

A friend asked me yesterday if I believe in change. Do I think that I alone can foster change in society while I am alive. I said yes. I do not believe what I do is in vein. I do believe in incremental change. I do believe that I can put in place policies, procedures, and precedents that will help lead the change for tomorrow. I am an Optimistic Realist. I recognize the institutionalized systematic problems, but I am not defeated. I believe in myself. I believe in my abilities and I vow to do the best I can for my community. I believe in the resilience of my people. I believe in all those who are already doing a lot of work to foster change. Even if you don’t notice those changes, these incremental changes are helping people.

Change is often romanticized. When change becomes simplistic and romanticized, we fail to recognize the hurdles that are in front of us. Again , I am an optimistic realist. I am always hopeful. I can feel alone and still be hopeful. Emotions are temporary and going through the emotions of feeling human and being human help sustain me. My ability to get upset, my ability to cry, my ability to be happy. They all sustain me. My ability to relate to others who feel the same way. That sustains me. My ability to read about and watch  past and present revolutionaries sustains me. They give me perspective that all the changes I want not might happen in my lifetime but they may be in childrens. And that is okay. That sustains me. My compassion and love for my people sustains me. As Martin Luther King said " 
" True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring." 

I want equity and justice. I want policies that address and remedy structural oppression.

Equity:
"When some are excluded or lack the knowledge, income, equipment, or training necessary to participate fully in public discourse, they must overcome obstacles to access in order to ensure fairness. In other words, fairness also demands remedies to redress historic injustices that have prevented or diminished access in the first place: for, just as there can be no fairness without equality, there can be none without justice. That is, in order to maximize opportunities for access experienced by certain groups, a good society commits resources in order to level the playing field. "

Equity = justice, fairness,and equality in outcome and result.


People want to move " forward" without recognizing the historical context that creates today. We have to remedy the past in order to " move forward". If you are unwilling to acknowledge the cause and the effects of the issues then stop demanding people give you "easy, fix-it" " one-size" fits all solution to centuries of institutionalized oppression. Change is happening. Change has always happened. And Change will continue to happen.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Black Feminists Hate Men


" Guilt is not a response to anger, it is a response to one's own actions or lack of action. If it leads to change then it can be useful, since it is then no longer guilt but the beginning of knowledge. Yet all too often, guilt is just another name for impotence, for defensiveness destructive of communication; it becomes a device to protect ignorance and the communication of things the way they are, the ultimate protection for changelessness" Audre Lorde 

As a black feminist, there is this notion that I 1) hate men and 2) blame men for everything that is “ wrong” in my life.

To set the record straight, I think it is important to note that I am human. I can experience both joy and pain simultaneously. I can both be happy and discontent. I can constructively critique systematic, institutionalized barriers that impact my livelihood as a black women while claiming my joy as a black women law student. These things are not mutually exclusive.

Before I had the language “black feminist”, I was still me. The academia and shared experiences of so many black woman has only helped build community and ensure me that I have not been crazy all these years. This language has also helped me grow as a person and into a young woman who is unapologetically herself.

Back to the matter.

I find that the term “ blame” is used as a silencing tactic to absolve men of responsibilities. I feel like it is a cop out. To believe that so many women enjoy being victims. To believe that being oppressed or experiencing struggle is somehow a want or a blessing speaks more to you than it does feminism.

I do not hate men nor do I blame men for everything that is wrong in my life. I happen to have a very good relationship with men in my life and if you took a journey through my blog you would find my appreciation for men and love.

What I do hate is misogyny. I hate sexism. I hate patriarchy. I hate white supremacy. I hate classism. I hate ageism. I detest them. I abhor them.

I am not here to place blame.  I am not here to make you feel guilty. No. 

I want everyone to take accountability and responsibility for the systems that benefit some and harm others.

I have a deep resentment for men who know better but don’t do better. I have a deep resentment for people who understand systems of oppression but choose to ignore it or only discuss it when it benefits self. No one is perfect. Yes. But I value integrity. I value honesty. 

I am angry. I am angry at the fact that we live in a society where people excuse Bill Cosby and Ray Rice's behavior. I am angry that I am constantly battling in my head what is and what is not acceptable as a black women. I am constantly at war with what I have learned and what I am unlearning. I am angry at the fact that I have to continuously explain to people why having the ability to make choices as a woman, free from judgment based on gender and outside of society’s constraints is necessary to my humanity.

That is what I am angry about. That is what disgusts me. I am not disgusted by you individual men. I am disgusted by the system that places you on a pedestal for none other than our difference in sex organs. No other than the fact that I menstruate and I have the capability of carrying a fetus for 9 months. I think this is both irrational and illogical.

I am disgusted by the fact that both women and men have been socialized to internalize these norms.

I do not hate you men. I don’t blame you individually for my woes. But what I must point out that while it may seem that I speak about “ society” as an idea, I am acknowledging that society is made of individuals.

So while I am not attacking you personally, I am attacking you as a a collective who is part of a greater society and system. I am challenging us all to step outside our comfort zone and view things from the perspective of the vulnerable and the oppressed.

I want myself and others to ask, “ Why?”.  Why. Why. Why.

When something becomes normalized, we internalize it. It is very hard to bring our subconscious thoughts into the conscious. It is very difficult to see how our subconscious thoughts manifest in a way that is harmful. But I do not think it is impossible.

All I ask for is accountability and responsibility. I do not ask for guilt because you think I blame you individually for my woes. That is a cop out.

Do not reduce black feminist to their justified anger. Do not make blanket statements without context. If I am angry it is for a reason. I can be all things at once. I am a whole human being who has the capability to experience different emotions at once. I am a whole human being that can experience both pain and joy. I am a whole human being who can both love men and critique patriarchy.

I am a whole human being that can step outside of my comfort zone and objectively view systems that hurt my sisters and myself.

Feminism is not a slur. My feminism does not harm me nor does it harm you. My feminism does not blind me. My feminism allows me to view the world in ways that I would not have otherwise. My feminism gives me the language to speak on my experiences and connect with other women in ways I have not before. My feminism allows me to create community.

But most of all my feminism allows me to define feminism for myself because as a woman I should have the choice to do so. 


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

To be black and woman and have a voice is to be constantly at war with society

When you speak out about misogyny , sexism , and homophobia expect to be attacked .

As it stands, we live in a society where white patriarchy dominates conversations and culture . We live in a society where the norm perpetuates misogyny , racism , and homophobia . Without the oppression of these groups , the status quo cannot remain . Thus , when the status quo is questioned in a way that we are not taught to question it , the questioners are abused .

However , what I do know is that I am not perfect and I don't claim to know the absolute truth of everything in life . That would do me a disservice . That would mean I have no room to learn and I don't value growth .

What I do know is that I can speak to my experiences on being black , being a women , and being a black women . I know that everything about me is political.

I claim to know myself and my experiences better than others because I work everyday to deconstruct the patriarchy that has been internalized within me. I am at constant conflict . But I understand this . I take up this responsibility . I own it.

I have taken a choice to make myself vulnerable to criticism because to assert myself in places where I was never and still am not welcomed is powerful to me. It is empowering to me and empowering to so many other women who are working to deconstruct patriarchy .

As a black women , I am forced to navigate both through systems of sexism and racism to survive . In order to deconstruct these two system I have to understand how they operate to benefit some and hurt others .

I am constantly asked to put my humanity on trial. Those who benefit from my oppression become my judge, jury and executioner . They force me to speak on their terms . They create this window of rationality that only benefits them. They claim objectivity on a matter that pertains to my personal experiences . Then they turn around and call me bias .

This playbook is so unoriginal and boring . But because I want to deconstruct the system that benefits you and hurts me, I understand why it is so hard for people to unmask their privilege and begin to listen . I understand the pushback. I understand the misunderstanding. I understand it but because of my deep love for my people, I want us to always to better. I want to always do better. It is my deep love of people that I feel compelled to speak out about injustices.

I have been there before . I have not always had the answers and I do not admit to have them now . But I have always been a learner. The only way I have been able to learn is by educating myself and by listening but most of all making myself uncomfortable . Forcing myself to think . Challenging what I have been taught.

Change does not come out of comfort .

Otherwise ,

What incentive does one have to break the systems in which they benefit from ? What incentive does a man have to denounce misogyny ? What incentive does a white person have to denounce racism ? What incentive does a heterosexual have to denounce homophobia ? It takes a special type of constant introspection that is not fun nor comfortable .

To find out that what you've been taught your whole life is a lie . That your existence is predicated on the oppression of others is not something to look forward .

When you live in a world that perpetuates your ignorance and favors your violence , there is rarely an opportunity to find a space to deconstruct it .

What may be true today may not be true tomorrow but I embrace that . The beauty of life is that we have the unlimited capacity to learn . But in the same breath , there are facts that exist today, in real time that help us operate in today's world.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion but not their own facts . As it stands there are Institutionalized systems of oppression that effect my livelihood . I am told that my narrative is not enough . I am not told that statistics are not enough. What good is engaging those who don't respect your humanity and intellect enough to listen ?

Which is why I firmly believe self education is the best education . Everyone must always be willing to constantly educate themselves and listen in on spaces that are reserved for those who experience it .
I don't ask for your sympathy . In fact I don't think any activist wants your sympathy . I simply want the space to be human . To experience joy while actively deconstructing systems and speaking out on things that affect me and millions of others .

If you are not interested in the work or are not interested in adding value to the conversation , I ask that you respect that .

To be black and woman and have a voice is to be constantly at war with society . I own that and I am okay with that.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

On being First Generation Nigerian American Pt.1


My parents did not anticipate the result of raising a Nigerian in America
This unidentified identity that is sometimes swept under the rug
The “I never fully had the American experience growing up in a Nigerian home”
Yet “I never fully had a Nigerian experience because I grew up in America”
The “how to I identify as a black person when my direct roots are from Nigeria”
Yet “I never fully had the Black experience because my parents are immigrants.”
There is something unique about the Black first generation American that other immigrant families do not share. Particularly because of the unique experience of Blacks in America. There is a great disconnect.

Part of the disconnect comes from my generation’s inability to find a space that helps unmask and articulate the conflating experiences.

While my parents grew up in Nigeria , they are no more free from white supremacy than Blacks in America. It is the ramifications of colonization that forced them to immigrant to this country. While I cannot imagine how it was to immigrate to a foreign land, this experience has a direct impact on my experience as a first generation Nigerian American.

While my parents taught me culture. That is, respect your elders, don’t use your left hand, education is highly valued. They did not teach me history or my language. Or so they tried.

My parents’ need to assimilate and survive in America left them voiceless and story-less as to the reason why they had to come to America. What caused one to leave a country? This is a past my parents wont discuss. Instead they focus on their struggle to come here and the struggle to survive here. But what one must understand is that the immigration was a choice and a privilege that too often is used to erase the white imperialism that created a situation that gave rise to the migration.

Anti-blackness does not only exist outside of blackness. White supremacy thought is deeply engrained in the upbringing of Africans. Abuser pathology does not only exist in Black Americans. It exists in Nigerian Immigrants. The need to belong and be accepted by people who until this day dehumanize you and ridicule your culture.

Nigerians thought they were the exception. If they just practiced respectability politics, they would be favored by White Americans. Yet the need for assimilation is the direct cause of a lost generation of young people yearning to search for self.

Both my parents have English names. All my siblings have English names. Most of my aunts and uncles go by their English name. Assimilation was a tool used to survive. But we know too often that using the master’s tools to liberate ourselves will only end in failure.

By ridiculing Black Americans while trying to get the acceptance of White Americans, you failed. But I don’t blame you. Again anti-blackness exists within all of us. It is through colonization and imperialism that we were indoctrinated with the idea that our culture is primitive and unworthy. We pride ourselves in culture yet ignore the rampant influences of White supremacy and its deadly effect on our ideology and outlook of the world.

It is because of our insecurities, that we defer to our ethnicity or tribe without constructively criticizing how our culture has been manipulated and packaged in a way that appeases Whites. This naivety has left their children with a lost identity, scrambling to put our Igbo words into sentences. Struggling to keep our food well seasoned.  

I wish my parents did not shield me from being Black in America. I wish it did not take me into college to understand what blackness meant and how it affected millions of people’s livelihood. It would have helped me to better articulate my identity and create a space for those who identify with my experiences. But I don’t blame them because I don’t think they knew better. And if they did not better it was their defense mechanism to having your whole existence being determined by your skin color. But if my parents and so many others were able to come to terms with that and not deflate the reality, we would have a better sense of self.

But I don’t blame them. Theories and ideologies are for the privileged.  Language is for the privileged. So many shared experiences but no spaces or words to convey what has been felt. My parents did not have that privilege.

I know more black history than Nigerian history. I want to know both because they both influence who I am and how I am perceived. History is a powerful tool so it is of no surprise that many of the early books on Nigerian History were written by white people.

It is as if African history started when the colonizers came and began to “ observe” .  In order to reserve my sanity, I need to connect the dots. I need to create a space in which I am Nigerian, American, and Black American but also a Nigerian woman and a black woman. Intersectionality is important and it is not binary.

I struggle with creating a space in which I can express my differences without being called divisive or a space in which I can express my difference without my peers creating a hierarchy. At the end of the day this is about claiming and preserving our humanity and identity. One does not need to dismiss another’s humanity to preserve our own. We must recognize that when our brothers and sister’s are oppressed we too are oppressed.

So in this same space, it is important to recognize my privilege as a first generation Nigerian American. Why? Because my parents had a choice to migrate to this country. They came here for school. Although they went through loops and hurdles such as literacy test similar to Black Americans , they automatically entered a space of academia that was not afforded to many Black Americans.

As a result, I grew up comfortable. While I was not afforded all the privileges of my White counterparts, I was afforded far more opportunities than my Black American peers.

Because of Black Americans, my parents had the opportunity to come to school in America. But the privilege that my parents have that I do not have is a strong sense of self. By the time my parents came to America they already were immersed in their own culture. My whole life has been me figuring out how to navigate in America with Nigerian roots while identifying as Black American. Yet I am not afforded the space to discuss this. There is an assumption that because my parents came from Nigeria, I have a direct relationship with Nigeria and all things Nigerian. This is false and erasure. It does not give me the opportunity to explore my identity or talk about the experiences . It limits my ability to grow and become more self-aware.

It also makes me embarrassed that I must find journals and books to learn about myself. Because it is assumed that I indeed know about myself.  I am still figuring out myself. While I know how to cook Nigerian food and know how to shake my behind, I am still searching.

I find that because Nigerian Americans lack a sense of history, we, like our parents, cling to our culture, which shields us from learning. We accuse Black Americans for not knowing their history yet we fall short of our own. But what we must understand that it is a result of the same force, that is, white supremacy.

Audre Lorde captured it the best: “ It is learning how to take our difference and make them strengths” “ Without community there is no liberation, but community must not mean a shedding of our difference, nor the pretense that these differences do not exist”

We act as though different experiences are a bad thing. We need to understand our differences in order to genuinely come together and understand one another. With this new wave of first generation Africans, it is impossible for us to move forward without both sides reconciling. This is also true for my Afro-Caribbean brothers and sisters whose migration wave to America was much earlier than ours.

When we don’t understand ourselves, when we don’t face our past, when we don’t question why it is where we are, we fail ourselves. When we fail ourselves, we resent others and abuse others. We use the same tactics that our oppressors have used to divide and conquer. Audre Lorde urges us to rid of divide and conquer and replace this notion with define and empower.

There must be space to define our experiences and identities. But we must not invade the space of others. It requires us to check our privilege, which is often hard to do when we don’t have a great handle on who we really are. Our fear of losing the little that we have comes off as arrogance and we have to change that.

How to share differences without creating a hierarchy . How to create spaces without one interpreting it as divisive.


We have to start documenting our experiences. We also must educate ourselves on Black history. We must then reconcile our experiences so that our children will be able to navigate through America better than we have.

the afrolegalise 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Puzzle

Sometimes I fear that I am too kind .
For when it comes to the world
My skin has not one crack
But my heart crumbles
Is it the humanity in me ?
That produces this compassionate
And kind behavior
Even when faced hurt
How then can I build the facade that
Keeps me sane
Up against the world
My outside reflection
And integrate it into my heart
I wish only for barbed wire
So I never have to feel
Love does that to ones soul
The chaotic eruption
Two loud words expressing the bursting of human emotion
But I have not yet felt that love
But I watch as people's hearts crumble
And I so badly want to lock my kindness and compassion inside
A locket with a key only I hold possession to
How brilliant it would be to unlock and lock
For more people would fall in love
a switch, a programmed amygdala
If vulnerability was something we could control
But I see too many hearts crumble
Crumbs don't afford the luxury of a puzzle
They are shattered unrecognizable pieces
Something of the past
Suppressed memories and emotions

Friday, November 7, 2014

My existence

I don't want to escape this reality .
Despite how harsh the world is .
I want to be here to witness my survival.
I don't want to dream of what may be .
I want to experience it . I want to feel . I want to do.
Because that is what makes me feel human
In a world so cold
In a world that does not see me as I see myself
My existence is what keeps me sane
It is what gives me hope
But what keep me sane is where I experience the most pain
My existence

Do we believe that?

Some say "if there were no more problems in the world we wouldn't have anything to live for " do we really believe that ?
Fighting something that may be inevitable .
Discouragement lingers .
Hope dies .

Are you there God ?

Are you there God ?
It's me Chichi
I was wondering if I could get a sign
A foundation of hope
My addiction to making things better
Mrs justice on coke
I am no longer sure love is the way
For your children are filled with grief and dismay
So much anger hate and I just wonder
Where is my sign ?
The sign things will get better
Where is my leap of faith
That all this talking learning working isn't in vein
I swear people are so evil
Swear they are so bad
And maybe I'm looking myself in the mirror
Maybe I'm coming to terms with myself
This idea of morality spoon fed
Making us think were better than we are
But when I read books
I listen to stories
I hear about experiences
All I see and hear is pain
Why so much pain ?
Why so much suffering ?
Why do some get so much and others so little ?
Are you there God ?
It's me Chichi
I need some answers .
Why are people so cruel
Why do people abuse their power
Why do people hurt
Is the "devil " that powerful ?
How does one find hope in a world so cold and dark
I don't know there is a such thing as eternal happiness
I don't know that things will ever get better
One solution . Five more problems .
Are you there God ?
It's me Chichi .
I just want to know how to be the light in a room full of darkness
Especially when many choose darkness instead of light

Friday, October 24, 2014

I am

I am a Nigerian . I am not a virus .
I am a black person . I am not a criminal .
I am a woman . I am not an object .

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Strong

Strong
Redefined by the strength in my tears
Every drop left a crack in the cement
Where It traveled and found a seed
The rebirth
Oxygen from my hard breathing
As I wept out loud between each crowd of tears
Strength in my tears that helped heal me today
So I could move on tomorrow
See they lied to me when they said
Hold it all in
And it'll all go away
Be a big girl
Be strong
But I want so badly to let it all out
So it can never come back my way

The times I woke up and said
I am okay
Made all the difference in that day

Whole

I so badly want you to be human
I so badly want you to feel
Your Expressions of authenticity
The hurt
The agony
But I want you so badly to resist
Resist the notion of being broken
Because you are whole
A whole woman that feels
Pain , misery , hurt
But never broken .
Never in pieces
Because you are whole
Through life's battles you are whole

Intergenerational Disconnect

Nnem
Biko, nyem mmiri
She nods
Rushes to the kitchen to get mommy a glass of water.
That she understood
Nwam ahurumginanya
My baby, I love you.
Ezigbo Nwanyi
Good girl
So she was called often when she greeted her elder.
She knew to do that.
Some things she didn’t understand but she knew she had to.
A broken people. A broken culture.
Making whats left into something of substance.
Her middle name Christina.
She recently disowned it.
She wanted to understand her culture. Learn her history.
Put the missing pieces together.
Gini ki choro?
What do you want?
I want so badly to connect with my identity. To make sense of this world through the lenses of my ancestors.
Broken English.
Remnants of a people who tried desperately to resist the deterioration of their history.
Books written by the White man.
She struggles with her native tongue.
She struggles to find authenticity in today’s traditional practices.
Olunne.
The youngest child. Ever so anxious and curious to learn.
Ever so rebellious. She refuses to turn and hear her past name
That is, Christina.
In a country of forced assimilation to tries so hard to connect.
Azu
Fish. She knows this because she loves to cook.
The smell of dry fish seeps through her bedroom drawers into the seems of her clothes.
She wants to know . She wants to understand. She wants to be inspired.
For she knows her people did not give up their history and culture so easily.
She knows they fought. The melanin that fights off the radar of the sun.
Had to be somewhere in the eyes . Inside the soul of her people.
A spiritual group of people. In nature they found themselves.
Tata.
Today.
Another word she knew. She learned so in her Igbo class as a child.
But the yearning for oneself travels to Echi.
Tomorrow.
O gini?
Whats wrong? Mommy used to ask.
A communal caring group of people.
Poisoned with corruption and strife.
She wants to know how we got here. So she searches everyday.
Generations of lost people. She feels so distant.
But she knows we try.
Our song and our dance tell no lies.
I di mma.

It is well.

Aham Bu

Chisara
Okwu
God Answers Prayers
In a name. Is a story. Is a people. Is a culture.
They took our land and our resources
But they did not take my name.
Beautiful Resistance of a Name.
Out of her womb came a name.
In a name. Is a story. Is a people. Is an experience.
My head covered in plasma was a prayer answered of Life.
Nnennaya
My Dads’s Mother.
Read from Right to Left.
So many N’s you better remember it.
For it does not simply mean grandmother.
It means I am my grandmother.
Through me She lives.
With me . We remember.
Her life lives on. Generation after Generation
Oh. The Beautiful Resistance of a Name.
The intricacies of a renowned social order.
Where names tell stories.
Where names give purpose.
Where names give people value.
A child is priceless.
For a child carries the traditions and cultures of the family.
The blood and tears of the family.
The heartache. Like my ancestors did.
Through the struggle. Through the destruction of one’s idenity and culture.
A name remained.
A name gave hope.

I am the future. A prayer answered by Chi.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Clasp

And there it was.
My hand in yours.
But before that I noticed something.
I noticed that you had five squiggly lines that looked just like mine.
But mine all turned to the right of my palm. Towards my thumb.
And at that point I wondered what it meant.
Was it that we had come on two different but strikingly similar paths?
Did those paths meet when you clasped your hands into mine?
At that moment I wondered if soul mates were real
If there was a God and if she purposefully and intelligently made me for you.
The way my hand met yours.
Science could not explain the levels of radiation that filled my heart.
How it sunk and so many breaths were lost.
Electromagnetic spectrum.
Waves of energy. I was literally shocked.
A literal pause in time.
Figuratively in heaven.
A match made.
Or that’s how the allegory goes.
My thumb met your finger
Like the strongest creases on the human hand.
And there it was .
The simplicity of a clasp.
I needed to get a grip.
And suddenly my heart began to thump. I became unlocked. Open. Viable.
When joined my hand in yours. I literally stopped.
I could not.
The relaxing chill after an intense orgasm.
The resharpening and realignment of both my brain and vision.
And there you were. Your hand in mine.
I felt.
Something bigger than us. Driving me to you.
Like the lines on my hand that perfectly matched up with yours.


Lets go

I want to go away with you
I know it sounds cliché
But cliché gives me hope
It helps me to dream
Because I know that somewhere underneath all this skin
These organs
These bones
There is hope.
Hope that lives in the soul
I know it sounds cliché
But when I met you I connected to your soul
I felt this Earth was too harsh to cold
For our love to grow
So at that pointed I wanted to go
I wanted to go somewhere far away
So that our love could grow
So I could feel the vibrations of your soul in the depths of my heart
Perhaps Mars with its burning fires
Third degree burns no wonder Im in so deep
So raw . This love
The momentum of Venus
She spins the opposite way of Earth
Because although this is cliché
And everyone must say
Their love is authentic and real and out of this world
Its opposite of everyone elses
I don’t blame them.
Because the eeriness I feel with you is not cordial.
It is not friendly
The strangeness of our connection doesn’t make me comfortable
It makes me wonder. It makes me think . It makes be question
How all this time I had not known something so vicious.
Something so pure.
How I had gone all this time and not understood
Until I met you.
This ongoing shock.
It excites me. It amazes me. It energizes me.
Like that vibration from your soul to the depth of my heart.
And now I want to go.
Far away with you.
And I just hope you come.
I hope everything I feel about you is everything you feel about me.
Perhaps more.



Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Simply exists

Lately I have no been myself
Strong
They see me as strong
But I'm weak
I feel
Or maybe strong is to feel
And weak to suppress
But I don't want to be strong
Some days I don't want to feel
Sometimes I want to simply be
I want to simply exists
Exists in a world where strong and weak do not exist .
A world where me is enough
Where happy sad anxious angry is me
Me
Can't I just be me
Why do I have to be strong
For strong seems like too much
Too big a burden
I am still trying to master being me
Just me

Alive

She was alive because She chose to be.
The moment she died was the moment
She chose to be.
Her life was a choice.
The way her thoughts transformed into actions.
It kept her alive.
To keep her mind moving and heart booming.
She was alive because She felt alive.
The moment she died was the moment
She felt like she did.
Her life was a choice.
The way her negativity consumed her and her idleness removed her.
She had a choice and that made her alive.
Her ability to choose meant her ability to live.
The freedom to choose.
The freedom of choice.

She had one and she was alive.

She was not alone.

In her thoughts so alone.
In her head shes on a throne.
Valued and Revered.
For if she just thought it maybe itd be.
Maybe the crown would be at her feet.
This is what she fought for.
This is what she sought for.
But there were so many of her.
Maybe she was not alone.
The value and reverence simply misplaced.
When she looked closer.
It was too her surprise.
So many crowns. So many thrones.
So many queens.
Out of hiding and shown.
She was not alone.
Her vision was tainted.
Her thoughts so grainy.
She cleared her eyes.
And a breath of fresh air.
When she learned to see beyond her own.
She was not alone.

She lost in spirit.

What he gained in wisdom I lost in spirit.
Where he found strength in my words.
I found weakness in his actions.
She never understood the inside of his book.
So full of pages
So empty of words.
Incomprehensible scribbles
She couldn’t make it out.
She too was empty of words.
Loss of words.
Perhaps he had another book.
A book full of words and vivid pictures.
Shed never know.
She could never tell.
So one day she found a pen and she wrote in his book.
She kept writing in his book.
Shed hope he read it.
She left it under his bed.
The next day . He was gone.
But he left his book. With her pages ripped out.
The words were gone. Her voice gone. Her story gone.

What he gained in wisdom. She lost in spirit.

Mommy, how do I be you when I grow up

She was a little girl with dreams.
Big dreams.
Everyday she woke up and asked her mom.
“Mommy how do I be like you when I grow up”
Her mother worried.
She worried so much .
She worried that if she told her daughter the truth.
Her daughters dreams would shrink.
Small dreams.
If she told her daughter how much she had sacrificed because of her feminity .
If she told her daughter how much she sacrificed because of her womanhood.
She was worried.
She was worried that if she told her daughter the truth.
Her daughter would no longer run to her in the morning and say
“ Mommy how do I be like you when I grow up”
Her mother wanted to tell her how easy labor was.
How easy the nine months were.
She wanted to tell her that the hardest part about being her was being her.
She wanted to tell her daughter that she could be anything in the world but her.
She worried so much.
How could I raise by daughter, with kinky hair and brown skin in a world that hated her.
Hated her for her blackness and her feminity.
But her daughter was five.
She realized for these past five years.
She had survived.
The truth was that while the world hated her. She loved her daughter and herself.
Her self love is what brought her daughter into this world and what kept her alive.
She worried less.
She worried less about telling her daughter the truth.
Her daughter asked her
“ Mommy how do I be like you when I grow up”


Chioma

Chioma. She had a lazy eye with overgrown lips.
Her hair cut low, even though she had seniority.
She always seemed so lost. She always seem so far.
I never understood Chioma. But now I do.
Chioma is the girl who went to fetch water but returned with an empty bucket.
The bucket was once full. But when she saw the blood falling from between her legs.
And on to the dirt road. She used it to wash it away.
She wanted to wash it away.
She took more steps. More drops of blood fell.
Her pain. She had experienced before.
Images flashed in her head. She saw dark brown forearms grabbing her waist.
She opened her eyes. She closed them back.
Images flashed in her head. She saw dark brown forearms grabbing her buttocks.
She opened her eyes. She closed them back,
She opened her eyes again. No images. Just emptiness.
Just her emptiness and her empty bucket.
She went to fetch water. But shed' been to fetch water before.
They'd been to fetch water before.
The water she needed to nourish and cleanse herself.
The water she used to cleanse herself. She felt dirty. She felt impure.
They took it from her. He took it from her.
I wondered why she always felt so lost. But now I know.
A piece of her. No all of her. All of her was so empty and so far.
Her lazy eye and overgrown lips told a story.

One that is hidden in that red African dirt and that bucket of water

If not me.


I speak. They shut me.
I walk . They block my path.
I sprint. They trip me.
I try. I try . I try
Draining my tears down the pipe.
Drowning in this water of opposition.
I once knew how to swim.
I once knew how to float.
But sometimes just being under water is relief.
Away from the shores.
Away from the edge.
Im afraid I will be cut.
Im afraid it too sharp.
The current to powerful.
But if I give up so will she.
But if I give up so will he.
I close my eyes.
I try to trace back .
Back to the time where I learned how to stroke.
Left arm. Right arm. Left Foot. Right Foot.
Synchronized. I gain the momentum.
I gain the strength. My mind recharged.
I speak. And I keep speaking
I walk. And I keep walking.
I sprint. And I keep sprinting.
I can and I will.

Because if not me. Who?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Malcolm X on Women Rights

As Malcolm X travelled the world and witnesses the way women were treated. His privilege, his blinders began to disappear. He began to recognize how what he said and did aided the oppression of women, particularly black woman. Had Malcolm X lived longer, I believe his view on women would have continued to evolve. Here are some of his last remarks.

" In every country you go to, usually the degree of progress can never be separated from the woman. If you’re in a country that’s progressive, the woman is progressive. If you’re in a country that reflects the consciousness toward the importance of education, it’s because the woman is aware of the importance of education.


"But in every backward country you’ll find the women are backward, and in every country where education is not stressed it’s because the women don’t have education. So one of the things I became thoroughly convinced of in my recent travels is the importance of giving freedom to the women, giving her education, and giving her the incentive to get out there and put the same spirit and understanding in her children. And I am frankly proud of the contributions that our women have made in the struggle for freedom and I’m one person who’s for giving them all the leeway possible because they’ve made a greater contribution than many of us men."

Saturday, July 26, 2014

And so She Loved Herself.

And so she loved herself.
So wonderfully and beautifully made.
Every piece of her served a purpose.
But the greatest gift of all was her voice.
Her voice with all its vibrations ringing through the earth.
The carbon of dioxide . Her voice gave them life.
The roots could finally spring.
She knew she had a purpose.
She knows she has a purpose.
The power of the tongue. Vested in her.
And so she loved herself.
So purposefully and intricately made.

The Best You

There is some kind of a sweet innocence in being human- in not having to be just happy or just sad- in the nature of being able to be both broken and whole, at the same time.- Joy Bell 

The killing of one's soul begins at the beginning of comparisons with others . Part of having faith and walking with your faith is to recognize that each individual has a purpose and gift in life. One persons gift may be different from another's gift but sometimes we spend so much idolizing others from the outside that we never internally explore our speciality . Society breeds competition. Who wore it best . Who's won first . Who discovered it first . The fact is someone else's success or joy does not take away from yours . There is a lot of peace ,to be found in this concept . We fear what someone else might be capable of but don't recognize our own talent and how beneficial it is to society .

I am a firm believer in being the best you . Society like to box us in categories or rank us by numbers but we are far more than that . We have weaknesses and strengths but that only makes us human . A weakness is just that , a weakness. Sometimes we don't necessarily need to waste time bettering our weakness but rather accepting it as part of us. Having a flaw is not negative it's just that a flaw. The only time a weakness can bad is when it negatively impacts your growth and your ability to do better. 

I know I can't draw. I've never been very artistic with my hands but I am not going to beat myself up with it. But I do have a creative mind and I do know how to convey my ideas so that someone who does have the skill set I'm lacking can create . Knowing your strengths is more important than dwelling I'm your weaknesses or flaws . 

We are perfect the way we are , we are equipped with everything . Whether we've unlocked or unpacked the equipment is another thing. But always remind yourself how great you are . Be wise enough to know you are not better than anyone but that you are different and have something to offer.

This mindset is a life skill. A survival skill.