Sunday, November 29, 2015

Complete

As I wake up everyday discovering something new about myself
I laugh at the idea
The idea they sold me
The idea that you could complete me
How could someone who was still learning about themselves complete me?

Is that what they told you?
Is that why you look at me with disgust
When I tell you I have not found someone?
Is that why you
To you, single means lonely.
To you, single means miserable.

Is that what they told you?
If tomorrow I change, how will you adjust?
If you completed me.


The Afrolegalise


Femicide

"I don't want daughters"
Signed
The Misogynistic Bastard


The Afrolegalise

Nwa Baby

As a mother, you are no longer a woman.
If ever you were a human being.  
You are no longer a human being.
If ever you had a choice.
You no longer have a choice.
If ever you enjoyed life.
You are no longer entitled to enjoy life.
Babies Sucking Breasts
Until you are out of breath
No longer able to live your life
Slow death diagnosed with burden, stress, shame, guilt, and
The World.

They said.
Stay in . Take care of your children.
If ever you put yourself first
If ever you take care of yourself
You are bad
Bad mother
Terrible Mother
Careless Mother
Reckless Mother
Dead beat Mother 
Heartless Mother 
Selfish Mother 
Evil Mother
Witch
Don’t you see?
When you become a mother, your burden becomes even greater.
You are no longer a woman.
You are no longer a human being with desires.
No more wants.

But as a father.
You are now the man.

Congrats.
We are so proud of you. 
All 30 seconds of it. 
All that hard work. 
You can do as you please.
Just be home when I wake up. 

The afrolegalise

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Angry BW

Be slow to anger
They said
But I am an Angry Black women
Angry at the world
Angry at everything around me
Angry at you 
And you 
And you
Angry
Angry
Angry
If this world were not so quick to judge me
If this world were not so quick to hurt me
If this world were not so quick to kill me
If this world were not so quick to ridicule me 
I would not be so quick to anger
Yet you demand in me a patience that you yourself never had to live
You demand in me a patience that you yourself will never have to live
Quick to anger
But I don’t always hold on to it
Sometimes I channel it into love for my sisters
Who know what it feels like to be
Angry
Angry Black women 
Sometimes I create with it
The complexity of my hairstyles
The vibrant colors of my attire
The knots in my hair tie
Sometimes I cherish it
I cherish it so that I can see that my daughters
Can be a 
LLLL
ittle bit more slower

Longing

Out of boredom
I write about the things I wish I had
I ought to have
I should have
I must have
Everything I want seems unattainable
So I write
And I write
And I write
And I write
And I write
Until I no longer long

The Afrolegalise 

The Greats

Have you ever had someone tell you that you are the greatest human being 
Alive

And believe it?

The Afrolegalise

Insanity

He once told me he loved me
He stuttered it but I know he meant it
Pulling teeth
I think he meant it
I know he meant it
The way he looked at me
I keep telling myself these things
Over and over again
Insanity
I know he meant it
Love

The Afrolegalise 

Onugbu

Radiant Skin
Her melanin fights against the hot sun
As she plucks onugbu
The heat is too much
Sweat runs down her forehead into her eyes
She rubs her eyes
Chai! She yells  
Burning sensation
Blurred vision
But she does not make any more noise
Because she knows no one will come
She bends over and waits for the pain to subdue

The Afrolegalise

Fonder

Absence makes the heart forget
I closed my eyelids
And you were gone
No fairytales
No fantasies
I wanted you out of my sight
Out of my mind
Hoping the pain will some day
Magically disappear

The Afrolegalise

Ofunneamaka

An extension of me
My best friend
My sister
Ofunneamaka
One Beautiful mother
Nyerem Aka Gi
I want you to plait my hair

The Afrolegalise

Anointing Oil

Splashing anointing oil on my forehead
Forgive those who trespass against me
O’ Lord

The Afrolegalise

Baptism

Baptism
Washing away my sins before I even knew myself
Before I even had a chance to live
Before I even had a chance to walk
Before I even had a chance to talk
Guilty by association
Purity is earned

The Afrolegalise

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

On Black American Hypervisibility


My point of view comes from someone who is first generation Nigerian Black in America. I feel like my perspective gives unique insight because I can see things from all sides of the coin . I was raised in a Nigerian household but I have lived in America as a Black person my whole life . My experiences are shaped by both my ethnicity and by my race. 

I think it's problematic when people say that the Hyper-visibility of Black Americans equate to privilege over other Black people in the western diaspora . Blackness in America has been commodified and exported throughout the world reducing Black people in America to a product of capitalism. By reducing Black people to a product , Black people are rendered invisible . There is literally no tangible benefit of being Black in America in a global world if people do not see you as a human being but rather a product that everyone is entitled to consume . Being seen as "cool" or "down" is exploitive no matter how many Black people say they love it. Everyone want to be Black, but don't nobody want to be Black. To people around the world, you are entertainment. You are a science project that they can dissect and analyze. You are not a human being . 

Likewise , Black Americans are not seen as human beings in America . Black people are dehumanized and reduced to racist stereotypes to perpetuate White supremacy. What does it mean to be Black in America when "citizen" is not applied to you as a Black person . Black people in America don't even have human rights , let alone civil rights . I think the same can be said about Black Canadians , French , British , German , Dutch , etc etc . What does it mean to be Black in a country that sees you as subhuman . The very function of #Blacklivesmatter is to assert the radical idea that Black people are human beings and deserve the same human rights as everyone else . 

No matter where Black people are , other people's experiences are used to silence and erase them . For example, after the horrific attack in Paris , people all over social media used the deaths of Parisians to erase the experiences of Black people in Missouri. People told Black Americans to shut up and realize that they are not oppressed . In fact , real oppression is happening over there in Paris and Black Americans should be grateful for not being seen as human in America . This happens all the time when people commodify the experiences of Africans (because every African in Africa has the same experience ) to tell Black Americans to be grateful for being seen as subhuman in America . 

The same thing is done in France when Black French take it to the streets to protest anti-blackness and xenophobia. People in France commodify Ferguson and use it to silence Black French people. Because Black French people should be grateful that they are not being shot by police everyday in a country that does not recognize their humanity . Because Black people in France supposedly don't get killed by police . 

A Black British person may come to America and be told "I didn't know there were Black people in the UK." Similarly , a Black American may travel to the UK and be asked "But where are you reallyyyyy from?" because many Black British people are 1-2 generations removed from Africa or the Caribbean . But even within this context , there are Black British people who are neither direct descendants of Africa or Caribbean but rather are similarly situated as Black Americans because of slavery . I think people forget that European countries also enslaved Africans . 

Who benefits from all of this ? Black people are literally rendered invisible everywhere they go and their pain is exploited to shame other Black people in the diaspora . It's not "better" for Black people anywhere and what does "better" even mean for Black people . I think sometimes it's a coping mechanism to think that there is a place where you can escape anti blackness but there isn't . 

Moving to the UK won't help .
Moving to Malaysia won't help .
Moving to Brazil won't help .
Moving to South Africa won't help.
Moving to Australia. 

I recognize my western privilege as Nigerian Black who has traveled to "third world countries ". But I think that is true for Black people who come from any western country . They have class privilege and probably come from a background where they had enough money or education to travel .

Who does it serve when one says people in Africa don't even have running water? It reduces African people to props or tools to make White people feel better about their oppression in their homecountry of America or France or Canada or the Netherlands or Russia . It reduces African people to poverty and disease . As Chimamanda says , the danger of a single story . It also ignores the fact that there are Black people in America who are poor and don't have running water . It assumes that everyone in America is similarly situated and that being poor and Black is not a thing because you are in a western country . What is happening in some village in Nigeria shouldn't be used to silence Black people in America . Especially when people don't even really care about what is happening in that small village in Nigeria . 

Similarly , the experiences of Black immigrants or Latinx immigrants or Asian immigrants are used to shame and silence Black American experiences and further the myth of American exceptionalism and the American Dream . Without fully understanding the history of Black people in America , people will use some arbitrary experience to silence them . All in all, it functions to erase the oppression of Black people globally . 

People may even argue that non black Americans are able to navigate through America easier such as the entertainment and arts industry . Where Lupita, Idris, Chimamanda , and Uzo are praised and given opportunities but I think that is a messy conversation and only promotes in fighting . So I will not get into that. 

But the fact of the matter is , most Black Americans don't have a passport nor are they traveling all over the world. Black people in America are struggling to tackle voter ID laws because mandatory identification cards negatively impacts Black communities. Most Black Americans who are traveling are first generation who are traveling back to their home countries . I think nuance is necessary in this conversation . And I think it's important to understand what these terms mean . There is nothing good about hyper-visibility . This is why people draw the distinction between visibility and hyper visibility . Hyper being negative and harmful . Hyper contradicting visibility and rendering you invisible .  

Anti blackness is global and anti blackness manifests differently in different parts of the world . But the function is the same . The function is to dehumanize Black people and render them invisible and justify oppression of Black people . So I would be hesitant to make broad comparisons of separate countries that have different histories and different ways anti blackness manifests . 

I have an American passport . I have a Nigerian passport . I have traveled to many different parts of the world . Central America, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East . My passport allowed me to get to those places but my passport didn't prevent me from experiencing racism in those places . But I also have two degrees and I come from an formally educated middle class household. I am only one generation in America so I don't represent the vast majority of Black Americans . Even though 3 million of Black Americans are immigrants,  we all have different stories . We all have different ways we got here . Not every immigrant is an America citizen nor do they have an American passport . Not every immigrant came on diversity visa . Not every immigrant is formally educated . Not every immigrant came to America by choice. Not every immigrant is flourishing in America . 

So no, I don't believe the hyper-visibility of Black Americans is a privilege or benefits Black Americans. I don't know when hypervisibility in the media became a good thing for Black people anywhere. I don't think showing Black people getting killed everyday without justice is beneficial. To assert this would be to believe that showcasing Black pain around the world somehow leads to justice in America for Blacks. But I know, you know, we know; that it does not. 

Yet of hope

I don't 
Even know you 
Yet 
A yet filled with hope 
The way the hairs on your face connect 
Arouse me 
Yet the youthfulness of your smirk 
Calms me 
I don't 
Even know you 
Yet 
A yet filled with hope 
But this image I've created of you 
From you voice 
To your touch 
To the way you look at me 
I feel like I do know you 
The way the hairs on you chest connect 
It's a pattern aligned like a road 
To me 
Perfectly made for you 
To balance out the smoothness of your skin 
A little edge 
A road less traveled 
To make you more of a man 
Signs of maturity 
I want you to mature inside of me 
And I don't even know you 
Yet 

Nwannem

And I wonder do they realize
The millions of people who were captured from my village
And I wonder do they realize
Geography didn’t end oppression
And I wonder do they realize that 500 years of oppression here
Included 500 years of oppression there
And I wonder if they realize
That we still existed
That my
great (1900)
great (1800)
great (1700)
great (1600)
grandmother
And your great great great great grandmother
Could have been fetching water together
When the White man snatched Ifeoma
Or maybe it was another Black man from another tribe named Adebola
Drunken with liquor , powerful with the touch of a gun 
Who Forced himself inside of her
Chained her up
And dragged her across the ocean
But there is a possibility that she didn’t survive
Maybe from sickness
Maybe she was brave enough to jump into the water
Maybe she had heard stories of those who left and never came back
Maybe her mother left and never came back
Or Maybe no one ever talked about it
Maybe everyone just moved in silence cradling their personal
Chi
Because we don’t talk. Maybe our ancestors didn’t talk either
I don’t know
Its hard for me to know
Because like you I am colonized
Or maybe she was among the Igbo Landing 
May 1803 
Savannah, Georgia 
"The Water Spirit brought us, the Water Spirit will take us home"
They chanted as they walked into the ocean and chose death
Over the life of an enslaved African
Suicide
Rebellion
Was that bravery or cowardice?
They say my people are stubborn
Igbo, Eboe, Ibo
They say my people fight . So when I see you
I see me . Because I see hundreds of years of resistance
Like them, you have .
But I don't know.
I am one generation removed from colonization
What I know is what my parents know or maybe what they don’t know
Because as soon as they stopped taking us to where you are
Where we are now 
They begin slaughtering us there
Burning villages
Hanging elders
Raping women
Capturing young girls
Taxing the poor
Exasperating internal conflicts
Steal everything. 
Take everything. 
Destroy everything. 
But our spirits . 

Or so I think . 

No. What I really think is that we are all suffering from post-colonial traumatic stress disorder
I imagine that’s what happened
I try to read books . I try to visualize.
I am obsessed with the past because I feel so much of me was taken
Here I am in this country
With my native name but still I feel empty
Is this a symptom of oppression
Am I imagining this? Am I making something more than it is?
Or do I truly have a longing to figure it out
Is there something to figure out ?

I say this because I too used to romanticize “ home”
But I am at a loss of what home is 
Who is home
And what does it mean to be home
What does it mean to have a home 
And I wonder if this is a symptom of colonization
Where borders were created
Identities manufactured
Nationality employed

Who am I
And 'What am I to you? nwannem?

Theafrolegalise 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Because Culture


Paul and Rose

Paul and Rose
Maybe no one ever told you two

But you are perfect to me
Rose’s passion
Paul’s insight

The thinkers
The engineers

My engineers
Everything I am is you and more
Thank you

Mbadiwe and Nnennaya

As you get older

You begin to realize the burdens
To parent
Because as they told me

They told you

Put your kids first

Forget about yourselves
Do everything for you kids
So that they may be better
And so you did

And so we were
I hope you don’t resent the freedom you allowed me to have

The freedoms that you only dreamt of
But what does it mean to be free
To be an immigrant couple

With a house full of children
In a community full of trauma
Sometimes your children is your only dosage of freedom
SO sometimes I get why you put so much energy and making me the best version of you

And more
I say and more because I have picked the best parts

Of You two to recreate my own version of me
Thank you

Imela
Daalu
Paul’s introversion
Rose’s empathy

Rose’s I am not yelling

I am raising my voice
My need to be heard like her
And my prudence like Paul

My engineers

Theafrolegalise

High


The Day


Saturday, November 7, 2015

Suffering and Serving

Lord, give me the strength to feed my kids.
My God, please never forsake my children.
Lord, let me not be bitter or angry towards my husband.
My God, please let my husband never leave me astray.
Lord, give my husband the strength to love me through thick and thin.
My God, please do not allow my children to go astray.

Blessed is the mother who gives her husband an abundance of children.
Blessed are the children of a self-sacrificing mother.
Blessed is she who puts all above her own.
Blessed is the overworked mother who never breaks.
For she who breaks is broken.
Blessed is she who never breaks.
Blessed is she who suffers in silence.

Virtuous women.
Who can find a virtuous woman?
Surely, those who she serves.

"Strong and resilient."
Suffering and serving.
Mother and Wife.

I long for the day she sees in her the humanity and god in She.
Woman and Human being.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Strong and Weak

It's a celebration.
She wakes up early in the morning to prepare for tomorrow’s festivities
Preparation takes days.
All hands on deck. She calls some of her friends to help
Washing the meat with her rough hands
Years of physical and emotional and sexual labor.
To be woman is to please.
To be woman is to satisfy.
The women laugh and sing Christian hymns.
They talk about how their husbands are always out.
Never home. Never supportive.
How they caught their husband in the act.
But for the good of the home they were told to deal.
Well they weren’t told, because they never told
Anyone
But somehow in their childhood, they got the message
To be woman is to forgive
To be woman is to gift
The giver of life.
They say.
9 months of torture. Hours of pain.
They forget how many lives have been lost in this process.
To be woman is to be a womb.
Full of fruit to be plucked. Until she is barren.
Winter tree as autumn leaves.
Sweet and spicy aroma.
Nutmeg, Grounded Pepper. Grounded Tomato and Onions.
It’s a celebration.

He walks in. She says, "Good evening di’m"
It is now nighttime and the circle of friends are hard at labor.
Peeling black eyed peas. Washing fresh cow and packing them in freezer before it spoils in the morning. Goat skin carefully seasoned and boiled.

Dry fish washed and mixed in with the cow’s intestines.
A true Igbo delicacy.
Plucking vegetable in the backyard. Trying to wash the bitterness out.
7,907 miles away from home but physical labor continues

My mother is strong they say. My mother is resilient they proclaim.
I am not sure what strong means.
What is strength to a woman who can never be vulnerable.
What is strength to a woman who is afraid to cry.
What is strength to a woman who is afraid to fail.
You say she is strong. I say you make her weak.

Superhuman nnem. Do you rest?
I know you keep praying to your god asking him to relieve you of this stress.
I see the unpleasant joy in your eyes.
It’s a celebration.
Husbands drop drinks at her house .
To be man is to pick up drinks from the store and drop them at a friends house.
To be man is to lift a box in a house.
To be man is to be man.
Because we will never know what it is to be a man.

But she. They. They are defined by what it is to be a man.
They bear the burden because to be a man is to be a man.
She hires workers to carry food to the hall.
It’s a celebration.

One by one, girls, young ladies, and women enter the hall.
Many know their place. They have almost immediately stood up after sitting down, trying to wave down someone to get a drink and chin chin for their dear husband.

Because to be a man is to be a man.
To be a man is to be served.
To be a man is to be fed.
To be a man is to be satisfied.
To be a woman is to satisfy

One by one , girls, young ladies, and women assume their positions.
Having cooked in their homes all week and having prepared the food for the event, they were also expected to  serve.

Because well. You know.. to be a woman is to ..
The night passed by. The women danced and danced, entertaining their dear, dear husbands.
Even those without husbands, danced, danced, danced
Entertaining their dear, dear men.

The single women danced and danced, hoping to find a husband.
Because to be a woman is to be married.
To be a woman is to be wanted by a man.
Even if you don't want him.

The night was coming to a close.
These women packed trays of food in their handbags.
I wondered if they had even eaten anything all day, the way they trampled over each other for the last piece of chicken.

I wonder about them, I do.
I wonder about the shame they carry.
The guilt.
The sadness.
The anger.
His woes. Their woes.
I wonder if she’s in a completely new life form.
Removed from reality.
Simply going with the motions.
Begging for an out. 

She tells me to go to the backyard and pick a switch.
Bitter leaves. Water leaves. Utazi. Ukazi. Uziza.
They all looked green. They all would do the same thing.
The little Igbo I knew came from plucking plants.
I closed my eyes. Spun around and chose one.

I came back inside.
“ Here you go,” I said.
She told me to bend over .
I cant remember anything after that.
All I remember is she hadn’t eaten at the party.

And then I remembered someone telling me that my kind is strong.
We are resilient. We must endure. We must. We have to. We ought to.
So many demands , I wonder how they do it.

Remain so strong .

To be woman is to be strong and weak.
To be woman is to be treated like a weakness but be expected to be strong. 
To be woman is to be woman. 
Because that is just the way it is.