All posts by Andrew Bradford

About Andrew Bradford

I’m a single father who lives in Atlanta. I have worked in academia, politicial consulting, and journalism. I’m currently a writer at LiberalAmerica.org and also have a news and opinion site at deepleftfield.info. Other than my family, what I love most of all are words.

‘Why Girl Code Matters’ by C. Imani Williams

I’ve got stories. Girl Code matters. Simply put, it’s the art and tradition of women looking out for each other. There should never be a time it isn’t employed. Sisterhood is about unity and solidarity. It’s about having your sister’s back and not accepting, tolerating, or promoting misogynistic behavior. I don’t care how badly you like seeing your friend smiling and happy because her heart and punany are turned up. Even if she’s married sh*t can go awry. Maintaining Girl Code keeps you in the loop and may help keep her safe should life get crazy. There are guidelines to sisterhood, and the recent and untimely death of Kaneeka Jenkins,19, of Rosemont, Illinois, means we need to revisit the rules.

Kaneeka’s Death Was Preventable
We still don’t know what happened or how Kaneeka ended up in the basement of a hotel where she was celebrating landing a new job with friends. Her body was found frozen in a hotel walk-in freezer almost 24 hours after she attended the party. Hotel video shows that she was severely impaired. The FBI has elected not to pursue her death, and people are making memes about the tragedy. Kaneeka deserves justice. Shame on people. If we learn anything from this senseless loss of life, let it be—that we do our best to protect those we care about and love.

Sister, We’re Two Of A Kind
It’s been said that a special place in hell is reserved for women who won’t help other women. This is true and precisely why Girl Code matters. The covenant of sisterhood should start early. Back in the day, young women venturing out into the dating world were encouraged to always keep “mad money” on hand. A dime in a penny loafer or a coin purse ensured car fare or a phone call home. It’s a bad idea to meet up with people you’ve met online and know nothing about. So, slow your roll. There’s time connect after a few phone conversations and you’ve done some background digging Right? All that glitters is not gold.

A rite of passage into dating should include mandatory Girl Code. A must-do list that needs to be followed to help ensure safety when mingling with the opposite sex. I’ll add, that unsavory situations pop off in same-sex settings as well. This is not specific to clubs and bars either.

Many times, sexual assault takes place at in-home functions. Casual get-togethers and open-house parties both present opportunities to get caught up in madness.

College Coeds Should Practice Girl Code

Sexual assaults on the campus of colleges continue to raise concerns as they are often slow to investigate, and quick to re-victimize women who suffer assault, in an environment where they should be safe. Too often, affluent student and athletes receive a slap on the wrist for rape and assault. Female co-eds have been victimized by school administration and shamed on social media for coming forward about an assault. Whether it’s a campus party, a house party in the hood, or on the cruise you’ve waited eight months to take, Girl Code needs to be in place.

We Come Together, We Leave Together
Form a pack and hold each other accountable. There’s no dipping out with the fine A. F. the person standing in front of you, making your panties wet. Get a phone number. Nope, you can’t stay there with the cutie if we decide to bounce. Take a picture and get a number. You’re leaving with the crew you came in with. Bathroom room runs require pairs. Besides, we like going with a friend anyway.

Tricks Are For Kids
The presence of alcohol makes it easy for fuck boys and narcissistic women to have fun at the expense of others. You’ve seen a Lifetime movie or two. In a nutshell, watch your drink. It’s so easy to slip something into a glass in public spaces. Big Mama, yours and mine both, always made the drink rules clear. Don’t accept one from strangers, don’t drink it if you didn’t see it poured, and once you walk away to the ladies room or dance floor, it’s a wrap. Don’t lift that glass back up to your lips. I don’t care who’s supposed to be watching it, people have short attention spans. Even if cost twenty bucks, or was free. Even if it’s just juice. Leave it.

Alcohol will pretend to be your friend and can give a generally reserved person, “girl of the hour” courage. It lowers inhibitions and can make you feel fabulous and then take you to lowest of lows. Turned up, sexual inhibitions can drop. Fun flirting with the cutie across the room can lead to conversations that turn into physical pleasure, real fast. Most of us have been there.

Designated Drivers, One Person Not Faded
Everybody can’t turn up. Decide on a designated driver before going out. Even if you Uber, at least one person has to be alert. Yes, it’s that serious. Safety reasons present again. In a society where rape culture and misogyny are common and over 64,000 Black women are missing in the U.S., we can’t risk losing another person. Girl Code matters because rape and human trafficking are sad realities.

Adjust Your Crown
Girl Code dictates that women stand for and with each other. Fighting patriarchy, and refusing to be treated as lesser than, are born rights. We have to demand respect from men. Girls, need to know that they have a voice. Boys need to learn respect of women early. Calling a girl a thot and pulling her hair in third grade is not okay. We have to stop brushing those “kids will be kids” moments off. Not addressing it tells a girl that she is not valuable.

The thing is, we’re all valuable. I don’t care how muddy your shoes got while you were in the storm getting the lesson. You’re not alone. Value and honor sisterhood. Let’s entrust each other to stand for that which makes us stronger, and more fierce. The tighter the squad, the higher we can fly. Girl code matters and true sisterhood is priceless.

Copyright 2017 by C. Imani Wiliams. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.

‘Burial’ by Art Metzger

When Alice wakes up everything is dark. She is lying, stretched out, on something soft, and there is softness all around her, close. There is also softness above her. She can’t see it, but she knows it is there. She remembers flowers and organ music. People are filing by her, she can’t see them, but she senses they are there. Nor does she really smell the flowers, hear the music.

It occurs to her, lying flat in total silent darkness, imprisoned, that perhaps she is dead. Alice has no memory of dying, of being dead. She doesn’t know what might have happened – automobile accident, heart attack, a disease, but she knows she is dead. There is no other explanation, though she cannot explain her continued consciousness. Is it going to be like this forever, leaving her trapped, buried in a coffin? Or is she wrong? Has she been buried alive? She needs out. She doesn’t know how long she has been trapped here in the darkness, but she can’t allow it to go on. She can’t imagine it going on. She begins to struggle. She begins to scream. And scream.

Alice doesn’t know how long the screaming goes on, struggling and thrashing in the tiny space, but eventually she starts to calm down. She remembers a movie she saw several years before in which a girl, recently buried, suddenly reached a hand up through the graveyard dirt. Everyone in the theater jumped, there were several squeals, a few people screamed. So, she wonders, how did the girl do that? Had she be buried, not only alive, but coffinless, just lowered into a hole in the ground and covered up? Or did coffins have a weak spot that the girl had managed to penetrate, allowing a stream of dirt to rain in until she could force her hand upward, through it, into the light? Alice feels around above her; with her nails she manages to tear the fabric above her, shredding until she feels wood. Then she begins to pound as much as the crowded space will allow. She does this for hours, days, perhaps months. She rests occasionally, then begins again. Finally, lifetimes later, she feels something start to give. She pounds and pushes and suddenly a thin trickle of dirt begins to fall around her. Pushing, up and up, knowing escape from her prison was imminent. Pushing, clawing, resting, then pushing and clawing some more. Dirt cakes under her nails, falls on her face and breasts. She begins to wonder if the coffin was simply going to fill with dirt, leaving her even worse off than before – double buried. She wonders if she should stop for awhile, then she feels her hand burst through into warm sunlight. She flexes her fingers, moves her hand back and forth, waving. Through the earth she hears the people above her screaming; she feels the vibrations of running feet. She tries to wave them back, a single hand beckoning. But no one turns, no one comes back. It is then that Alice begins to wish that she had learned sign language.

Copyright 2017 by Art Metzger. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.

‘Club Heaven’ by C. Imani Williams

I was solo as I entered Heaven, an after hour gay dance spot on the northeast side of Detroit, MI. A rare find in a city that didn’t offer much to the black gay, and trans populations. Totally closeted I hadn’t approached anyone about where Black lesbians hung out.

Heaven was a cultural gem that stayed under the radar.

Creating Community

Folk don’t give too much of a fuck about Black gay folks today. In the late 70s they sure weren’t dealing with the “funny faggot” issue. The Black power era was not inclusive of all its brothers, and embraced even fewer sisters. By 1992, Heaven was a staple for Detroit Black queers, who enjoyed the sanctuary of a “for us” space.

Seeking Safe Space

I was quietly bi-curious and Heaven was a place for me to check things out. Anonymously. I always went alone, with the exception of a couple of times, when I left  a straight house party in search of more music with a str8 friend, who was used to queer crowds.  Her dude was a house dee jay. I doubt if any other of my str8 crew would have accompanied me. I felt like a spy on a queer ass mission.

I Needed Heaven

The music was an aphrodisiac, House does something to me. It’s spiritual. I get high off the rhythm; I ride that bitch, no alcohol needed. Back when Heaven was open, I was still drinking, especially if I was partying. The fact that I’m an alcoholic hadn’t quite kicked in yet. With thirteen years of sobriety I look back on that time and see a lot of places where I was overly confident and sometimes just plain foolish.

This night though, I was full. Not drunk, but still floating from the music and the long island iced tea I’d had earlier. For five dollars you could dance at Heaven from two am till five thirty. Sometimes, the music played longer and daylight was on the horizon when patrons exited the club. I’d decided before heading out that evening that I was going to ask someone to dance. I didn’t’ know the protocol.

No Facebook Live To Capture The Vibe

As I walked in the walls were sweating from the energy in the room. Queens walked around dressed in miniskirts and six-inch stilettos. Others opted for platforms. Faces beat, in all that heat. There was a party going on!  The music was hyped and folk were taking up every inch of space.

As usual there were not many women in the house. By women, I mean lesbians. There were a few but mostly the crowd was gay and trans. This was their spot and I was grateful to be allowed to enter such a sacred space.

I Watched With My Heart

As I took in my surroundings a young male couple hugged in front of me. I guessed them to be in their late teens. They were all over each other, as if the days between meeting at Heaven had depleted them, and this was their opportunity to breathe again. They kissed, as the shorter one pulled the taller one back into him as he leaned into the wall. I watched them feeling all kinds of things.  I noted to myself that there was nothing wrong with feeling that way about another human being. Their passion was intense. I’d heard of people fucking through songs on the low. They weren’t that deep but they were close. He turned his man around and made him claw the wall he’d so eagerly backed into. I was digging it.

Well, Hello!

I looked up and saw “her”.  A couple of inches shorter than me, me she stood about 5’2” and had curly hair. Somebody with Indian blood was close in her family line. Deep dimples dotted her chocolate skin as she smiled chatting with the woman next to her. She was working her jeans and her Guess fitted tee, very nicely.  I didn’t know if they were a couple but I was feeling the music and decided, that I was going to make my move soon. Generally you don’t ask someone to dance at a House spot. Everyone is on their own thing. Dancing alone, partnered, and in groups. But I didn’t know the etiquette rules for bi curious folk.

There was a lot of good feeling going on. Drag Queens on platforms dancing sexy above everyone on the dance floor. The fog machines were pumping as people danced under the many strobe lights.

Heaven Made Me Feel Free

You could literally feel the stress of living black and queer in a pro-hetero, homophobic, community falling off through the hypnotic music. It helped folk deal the constant racism and oppression of a straight thinking community. Layers of bullshit were removed at Heaven on a weekly basis. It was a spot where black queers found acceptance and nothing but love.

Thank you, Ken Collier

DJ Ken Collier brought his musical gifts opening the door for many Detroit House deejays. He inspired and groomed Detroit mix masters both women and men who have made huge names for themselves, with thirty plus years on the tables. Detroit’s “Godfather of House” Collier defined entrepreneurship in the arts for an underground movement that pushed through to become a genre staple for across the world.  Respected until his passing in 1995 for bringing some peace and good time to people who deserved a break, even if, it was only once or twice a week.

Understanding this, I over stood the passion of the two young men slobbing each other down, and feeling each other up as if their lives depended on it. It did. As for me, I got that dance and Dimple’s phone number.  

Copyright 2017 by C Imani Williams. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.

‘Smoke Celebrations’ by Jostein Wolff

“I stumbled out of bed
I got ready for the struggle
I smoked a cigarette…”
Leonard Cohen

The three of them have been inseparable for a long time. They have been best friends since elementary school.

Anna made the decision. Alex took the initiative. They have tried many ways to convince Milena to give up smoking but all proved a failure. They discussed her deteriorating health, they talked about the rising prices of cigarettes, but Milena seemed too addicted to quit. She insisted on being careless with time. Her time on earth.

Anna is the formal kind of person. A dirty job indeed, but somebody’s got to do it. Especially in a company of three, in which no other is willing to take the responsibility. On the day Leonard Cohen died, she felt the need to make a formal statement on the social media. She took herself too seriously to not comment on such a serious event.

“R.I.P. great poet,” she wrote in all formality.

On the other hand, Milena suffered in silence. She’s the invisible type. She spent some hours smoking, in front of the screen, watching the posts, the comments, yet she did not participate, or interact in any way with anyone on her friends’ list.

“I’ll talk to the guy who owns the shop downstairs. That’s where she usually goes.” Alex was sure that their plan would work.

“We’ll have to find every shop in the neighborhood and inform them,” insisted Anna, arranging her hair in the mirror.

“You’re probably right. Still, I’m certain she will be too bored to go far. Just the closest places will be enough.”

“Do not underestimate the power of addiction.”

On the day Leonard Cohen died, Alex uploaded many of his songs in a few moments. He would have uploaded more, if he hadn’t had to go to work. He, too, spends most of his free time on the internet, commenting on every subject he finds interesting, without second thoughts.

Alex is the impulsive type. Without him boredom would prevail among them. He is the spark, initiating fires, when routine gets tiring.

“Next time she comes for a pack, talk to her as much as possible,” Alex told the guy in the store.

“I don’t get it,” answered the man. “But I will do it if you think it’s necessary.”

Milena is desperate for a smoke. She goes down and asks for a pack.

“So, how’s life going?”

“It’s ok,” she answered, avoiding eye contact, to end the conversation quickly.

“The prices have gone up. How do you get by?”

“I still can handle it.” She had not realized the man knew her. Perhaps it was time she changed her habits. She should buy her cigarettes somewhere else, where people did not know her well enough to engage in small talk.

A few days later, she had already visited most of the stores in the neighborhood, having faced the same reactions.

All shopkeepers seemed in the mood for small talk. Milena hates small talk. She has always been the introvert in an otherwise extroverted company.

Anna, in her best dress, is ready for a night out. Milena wants to stay in. She has run out of smoke again, yet her options are limited. She could either visit one of the closest stores, which seems a nightmare to her, considering the conversations she will have to get herself into, or drive to the next town, where her face is still unfamiliar.

“Have fun,” she tells her friend, having decided to sleep early.

“You should quit smoking,” says Anna, in her formal voice, as if she is talking in front of a camera.

“I don’t want to, yet I think I will.”

“I know.”

“You know what?”

“You hate small talk, you hate going far, it seems you have no option,” Alex said in enthusiasm.

Milena unfriended both of them. Both in life and social media. It was an easy choice. She chose addiction.

Manipulation is the end result of formality along with poor impulse control, she concluded. She set fire on their friendship and used the flame to light a cigarette.

She moved to another city and threw away her old phone. Leonard Cohen started smoking again when he turned eighty.

Two years later, he died. She was already eighty four. Determined to be carefree with her time. Determined to celebrate the rest of her time on earth, in smoke.

Copyright 2017 by Jostein Wolff. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.

‘Over-Reacted’ by Gloria Christie

She had invisible sharpened cat claws that scratched me bloody. I had known her for every moment of her life, and still…I can see her wicked smile every time she hit a vein. Oh, sure, she was the favorite one. The one who wouldn’t eat even as our mother begged, but the one who was adored for her small size as Mom called me that ugly, disgusting word –“big”. The one who got the permanented curls while I got the butchered bangs.

Yes, I was jealous. Of course, how could I not? And she knew it. I can see her inside of my mind, standing in our mother’s shadow. That smile as she watched Mom take anger out on my psyche. That smile as she feigned a headache, and I was handed her chores.

Mom handed out the labels that I squeezed myself into. I was the smart, big one. She was the petite popular one. That meant I had to be the clodhopper hiding in the corners of solitude with saddened eyes, afraid to step out, while she had countless friends and countless good times.

She had invisible sharpened cat claws that left me shredded, even though she was not as smart as me – Mom said. Each claw had a honing instinct that reached deeply into the spot that would hurt the most. Yet, any retribution was forbidden. It was my job to accept the abuse even as it drained my life blood of self.

She got what she wanted or else she took her teenage tantrum self to her car and hit the speedometer, breaking ninety and more. Once, I talked back, and Mom slapped my face. The humiliation stung worse than the pain.

At a time when I was counting out slices of bread at college, paid in full by my years-round job, Mom was buying her a house. I was jealous with the anger than simmered always, its stench unbidden.

Distance has its advantages, yet she reached across my self-imposed crevice and tried to get the federal government to invite me into their cells for punishment of an uncommitted crime, one never even considered. She reached across the canyon of my separation to get a restraining order barring me from our father’s hospital bed. Why? “Because I like to.”

She called my largest contractor repeatedly unbeknownst to me, causing them to pull away from my “unstable” business, which fell into the space between us, crashing on the rocks of her entertainment.

After a surgery, so needed a cane to walk, but refused. They found her lying on the sidewalk unable to rise. A concussion. “Use a cane for stability”, others urged. But no, she did not want to, always did what she wanted, and so she did not.

She fell again. Another concussion and two black eyes. And she fell again, another concussion. This time with convulsions. Another fall, and now there was brain damage.

She lost her short-term memory, but her short-fuse anger remained. Furious with me for imagined slights, “pissed off” and not speaking, which was a normal state of being, the two of us, and one I rather relished. Then, the text.

“I over-reacted.”

Two words, an apology that verged on the miraculous. And then, my world as I defined it in relationship with her shifted. The past tense had a new context, one that felt strange in my mouth. Now, I must feel my way in the darkness of this newness, of the formerly cat clawed person brain damage had shaped into something neoteric.

Copyright 2017 by Gloria Christie. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.

‘Tiny Puffs of Air’ by Art Metzger

A man is looking nervously around the waiting room. He is dressed, not in the suit that his wife wanted him to wear, but still nicely in dress pants and a white shirt. He is sunk down in a leather chair that is almost too comfortable. He fidgets in the chair, every few minutes he feels an almost uncontrollable urge to get up and pace. But pacing is for maternity wards, not marriage counselors. Besides, he isn’t sure when his wife will come out of the inner office. When she does he wants to at least appear relaxed. When she comes out it will be his turn to enter the inner office to tell his side.

The man edges forward in the chair as if he is ready to spring. He has never been and never expected to be in the office of a marriage counselor. No, not a marriage counselor, a couples therapist. “I’ve arranged for us to see a couples therapist,” is what his wife had told him a few weeks before, taking him completely by surprise. What was she telling him? He doesn’t know of any problems, at least none that are serious enough to warrant bringing in a third person.

He looks at his watch. She’s been in there for nearly thirty minutes. The need to pace, or at least move around, is becoming stronger. He pushes himself up from the chair and stands. For a moment he considers picking up a magazine from the table next to him. He knows he won’t read it, but at least it will give him something to do wih his hands. But just as he reaches for one the office door opens and his wife comes out. “It’s your turn,” she tells him. She bends down to kiss him. “Please try to keep an open mind.”

The therapist’s office is decorated in the same style as the waiting room. In the middle of the floor two leather chairs face each other. Against the far wall is a leather couch. The wall to the left of the chairs is dominated by an ornate wooden desk. He wonders, as the therapist closes the door behind them, if he will be told to lie on the couch. He wonders if his wife had. But the therapist waves him to one of the chairs, then sits facing him.

“I have to admit,” the therapist said, “that though I’ve often seen couples for problems in the bedroom, none have been quite like this. I know your wife is the one who made the appointment, but can you tell me in your own words what you think the problem is?”

“I know that she doesn’t like that I won’t use a blanket. If I’m cold, or if it’s a cold night, I turn on a space heater, even though she says it runs up the know electric bill.”

“Do you know why you don’t like blankets?”

“As I’ve told her, I just can’t stand the weight of them on me.”
“Why is that?”

“I don’t know, but it’s been that way for as long as I can remember.”

“Anything else?”

“I usually sleep with a pillow between us, right against my face. And often when we make love I wear pajama tops. She doesn’t like that.”

“Do you know why you do that?”

“I know this is going to sound odd, but I can’t stand the feeling of breath on my arms, the little puffs of air when I exhale. So I block it with a pillow.”

“And the pajama top?”

“Same thing. The sleeves cover my arms so I can’t feel her breath when we’re close.”

“Okay, that’s essentially what your wife told me. She doesn’t understand why you can’t just change. Those slight rushes of air are harmless and she doesn’t why you can’t just ignore them.”

“I’ve tried to. She knows that. But it’s just no good.”

“And you have no idea how these habits originated, when they started?”

“No, it’s just always been that way.”

“One thing you need to keep in mind is that your wife called me because she’s worried about you. She wants to understand what’s going on, and I believe that you do as well. She suggested, and I agree with her, that if we could find the reason you do these things it would ultimately be easier for you to stop, to break the habits. As problems go these seem rather harmless, but they obviously bother your wife, and you yourself might feel better if you knew the reason for them.”

“So what do we do?”

“Have you ever been hypnotized?”

“No.”

“Do you have any objection to hypnosis? It might be the best way to find out what’s going on.”

“No, whatever it takes.”

“We can do the first session today and see what happens. After that we can set up a schedule for more sessions until we get to the bottom of things.”

“That would be good.”
“Okay, if you have no objections I’m going to have your wife come back in to observe. That way she’ll see that you’re willing to take steps to change, and it may help her to understand what’s going on.”

The man waits nervously while the therapist asks his wife back in. She settles on the edge of the couch and mouths a silent “Thank you.” Then he is told to relax and begin counting backwards from one hundred while the therapist moves his watch back and forth and talks softly.

It’s his bedtime and he hates going to bed while his father is still out. His father has been off work now for at least two hours, which means he’s stopped in a bar somewhere. The boy begs the babysitter to let him stay up. If the boy is still up perhaps his father will simply pass out when he gets home, before anything happens. But the babysitter says no. She doesn’t like it when she has to stay late waiting for the father to come home, despite the fact that she is paid for the time. She has other things to do, and she has school in the morning. So, knowing it’s inevitable, the boy undresses, leaving his tee shirt on, and pulls on his pajama bottoms. Then he climbs into bed.

He pulls the covers up around him, even though he knows that they can’t be trusted, they won’t protect him. He is lying on his stomach, it’s easier that way, and that way he can keep his face buried in the pillows. Then he waits, waits in the darkness. A short time later he hears the garage door.

He hears his father come in, then hears the babysitter leave. There are footsteps on the stairs, then the jangle of keys and a belt buckle as trousers drop to the floor. The boy buries his face deeper into the pillows as he feels the side of his mattress sag with extra weight. Then the weight is on top of him, and he can feel his father’s breathing, small puffs of air, on the back on his neck and his arms. The breathing quickens, and the boy’s pillows begin to soak up the tears.

Copyright 2017 by Art Metzger. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.

‘Let’s Be Clear I Am Completely Here For Black Liberation’ by Imani Williams

The countless murders of Black people by police, the rape and violence perpetrated against Black women and children, and brothers killing each other, along with a society that is confused on what consent means and when to apply it, have me worn out. A shift has taken place over the last week. At least with me, it has.

As I’ve dealt with all the privilege that floats down my social media timelines, I’ve felt a pull. That pull is leading me closer to my destiny. I abhor all the isms that make this life unbearable for so many. I abhor the people who use “isms” as navigational tools the most. That Black people support white supremacy without even thinking about it, is very concerning. As a people, we accept so much and question so little, where it matters.

The shift that took place happened after I published a piece on cultural appropriation. A topic which burns me up and warrants discussion. As a Social Justice writer and activist, I put uncomfortable shit out there. We have to deal with it. Some white people on my friend’s list are not dealing well with my Pro-Black Queer Stance on equality and advancing this Mighty Race. Marcus Garvey was onto something, so was Brother Malcolm.

I know that now. I extended an olive branch in the name of “I’m not always right and I’m big enough to admit that.”  As I explained in the article, my white friend and I both artists, both outspoken, and will go toe-to-toe for our beliefs. We worked through our stuff, it was hard. I wasn’t backing down, she wasn’t either.

Last night, I get an inbox from another Facebook friend, also white.  She cautioned me against alienating white people with my anti-white posts. Let’s also be clear on the fact that I’m not anti-white. I’m against white supremacy. Two completely different things. On top of that, she and I aren’t close Facebook friends. She rarely comments on my posts, it’s happened maybe twice in five years.

I’m like man I am so over white people who refuse to do their anti-privilege work before stepping to me. With this shift I’m channeling not only Garvey and Malcolm X, I’m rolling with Dr. King, Mother Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Nat Turner. I’m so over it. I want to drag edges with Maya Angelou’s poems as my shield. I’m channeling Yoruba Priestesses and Priest. All.Of.This.

I’m feeling every bit. I’ve been an advocate for justice and equality a long time. The world has changed in the thirty + years since I’ve come of age.  I don’t recognize people I thought I knew. I’m so concerned for the children. They don’t get to remain innocent long enough. I’m concerned for our elders. Who’s really looking out for them?

We haven’t even had our post-slavery discussion talks yet. No real town hall gatherings where we check in and love and love on each other have happened on a large enough scale for me. We’ve survived so much and yet the struggle continues.

My recent shift entrenches me deeper on the path for Black Liberation for my people. White supremacy be damned, my armor is on and there ain’t no turning back. I’m using my pen and the blood of millions of Black people as strength. If people handle the truth and they have privilege on their side and aren’t using it to right the horrific wrongs that exist, I have no use for them. Not an iota.

I’m about freedom and equality for Black people. When redlining and gentrification are stopped, and Black education means quality education reflecting the cultural greatness of Black people in this country and the world, when school  administrators stop stealing from babies, housing is affordable, and child care doesn’t make working outside the home futile, when food deserts in Black communities are banished and instead are overflowing with well-tended community gardens, and libraries are opened and functional in urban neighborhoods, when my people stop breathing in toxins that corporations pump into poor neighborhoods, and health care is not only affordable but accessible, when people dying of cancer and hypertension are treated, and stress from being poor and tired is lifted, I’ll take a break. But, as long as the fuckery continues, I’m in the game.

Copyright 2017 by Imani Williams. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.

‘An Open Letter On Cinco de Mayo’ by Imani Williams

In 2005, I like many others celebrated Cinco De Mayo in Southwest Detroit. I did the street festival and ate at Armando’s. My feet were burning from wearing new sandals on hard concrete I was full and tired. I called my Cool Cat when I got home. I had no idea it would be the last time I would ever speak with my Daddy. His power was out and he’d called DTE to explain his bill was paid.

Daddy’s words, “I’m sorry for not being much of a conversationalist baby, but I’m having problems with this candle,” will forever ring in my subconscious. The phone line went dead. I called back three times and tried to lie down.

I was restless, something was wrong. I jumped up, grabbed my keys and purse and hit I-75. I made it to Southfield in 15 min. I could see and smell smoke as I drove up the I-696 service drive. Firetrucks and a Channel 2 news van took up the length of the block. I think I almost passed out from fear. After parking behind trucks, I walked up the block as six or seven firemen hoisted Daddy into an ambulance. I followed the ambulance to William Beaumont in Royal Oak, they couldn’t handle his injuries. A few hours later we were at Detroit Receiving. I waited alone for five hours to before I was called up to the burn unit.

Complications from the fire and several surgeries over three weeks took a toll. I knew when I walked into his room in the Burn Unit of Receiving Hospital at the end of May, that he’d taken a turn for the worse. The nurse shared that he was unresponsive when given a shot. I’d gotten to know the staff and this young man knew what he was talking about. The doctor confirmed a stroke and my heart dropped again.

We did hospice at Receiving and Daddy held on a couple more days as not to transition on my birthday. He passed away on June 2, the day after my 41st. I haven’t celebrated Cinco De Mayo since. Southfield Fire Dept. and the staff at William Beaumont and Receiving Hospital Burn Unit, will forever have my gratitude for being empathetic And professional. This year I stand in solidarity with my Mexican Sisters & Brothers by writing this letter. I am not here for laws that criminalize and throw people away for wanting a better life. My Cool Cat was a humanitarian with a big heart. I honor that spirit.

Copyright 2017 by Imani Williams. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.

Featured Image Courtesy of the Author

‘The Moon’ by Lucy Heasman

Silver star duster,
Light guider,
Path finder,
Sky brightener.
Night keeper,
Pure encircler.
Symbol giver,
Sleep enricher.
Wisdom seer,
Grace caller.
White revealer,
Bright blazer.
Hill top lighter,
Glare in darker.
Cloud and star enhancer.

Copyright 2017 by Lucy Heasman. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.

 

‘A Breath Of A River’ by Lucy Heasman

Doubt recalled a spout of the water formed, rocks of mould.
Melting with the green floss, sing water, sing,
Up higher the trees surround, shades fall and coolness bring.
Down below the river flow, motion, water gently ripples with a fold.

Green lava, smooth slick and thick, darkness deep,
Underneath there are growing river weeds and colorful fish that swim,
Catch a glance if your eyes are quick, up to the surface they spring.
Jumping over rocks and the waters sinking surface, feather light leap.

Voice of the river, soothing soft slither of water beneath the trees.
Trees rustling in the breeze, sounds of the sea can be heard.
But this is a trick, leaves like a tambourine, fly bird.
Shaking and blowing, shiver leaves.

Dips and a plop and drums soft stop, the flying fishes fall,
River pour your water from hilltop, down, shower and never cease,
Always you must flow and drip and grow over plants silent crease.
Applauds of the leaves, flashing wind, river call.

Copyright 2017 by Lucy Heasman. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.

Featured Image By Lucy Heasman