Turn down for what? Here are 30 reasons why you should

Turn down for what

1.)  Because you’re 43.

2.)  Because you can’t afford to buy another drink.

3.)  Because no matter how many drinks you buy her she still won’t invite you to her place.

4.)  Because you can’t afford another baby’s mama.

5.)  Because you don’t want herpes.

6.)  Because someone in this club has a gun and you don’t know who it is.

7.)  Because you don’t want to get shot in the face for doing something that you won’t even be able to remember.

8.)  Because you have work in the morning.

9.)  Because whenever you drink too much alcohol it makes you poop a lot the next day.

10.) Because no matter how old you get you still can’t handle your alcohol.

11.) Because when you dance too much it makes your forehead sweat thus

drawing attention to your receding hairline.

12.) Because you have asthma.

13.) Because the last time your son got suspended from school you told him that

he “be doing too much.” Now look at you.

14.) Because “Molly” is just another white girl that’s bound to get you caught up (see Rosewood, Emmett Till, The Scottsboro Boys, and The Central Park 5).

15.) Because you don’t want to violate your probation.

16.) Because if you come home high again your girlfriend is going to leave you.

17.) Because if your girlfriend leaves you then you won’t be able to afford your own place.

18.) Because the woman who you’re dancing with will never call you back once she finds out how much money you really make.

19.) Because when the club ends she’s going to go home to her man and you’re going to be so drunk that you’re girlfriend won’t let you in the house.

20.) Because when you get drunk you think you can fight but you really can’t.

21.) Because the bouncers haven’t been drinking at all and they’re much bigger than you and they know the exact location on your chin to punch you in to put you to sleep.

22.) Because when you get knocked out the girl who you were trying to impress will scream “Daaaaaaaaaamn!” And cover her mouth and laugh at you. Then she’ll slip the bouncer who knocked you out her cell number and friend him on Facebook while she tweets “This drunk dude just got KTFO! Trying not to laugh #ILUVD-BO”

23.) Because it’s not cool to be out of control.

24.) Because you only get high because you’re insecure.

25.) Because your roommates will vote you and your girlfriend out of the house if you throw up on the bathroom floor again.

26.) Because when you get too drunk you start crying for no reason and you blow everyone else’s high.

27.) Because you have to drive home.

28.) Because you don’t ever want to go back to jail.

29.) Because DUI is a felony.

30.) BECAUSE YOU HAVE A FUCKING PROBLEM!!!!!!!!!

 

-YB

Am I A Real Man Now?

I feel as though my roots have been severed. My voice has been lost. For the most part I feel like I don’t know how I feel. I hide behind my work like a coward, like a sociopath, like a man. My grandmother died in the first part of February and I haven’t cried about it yet.

I’ve put in a lot of hours at my job. I’ve continued to take care of my child. I went to the play at her after school program and I cheered her on at all of her basketball games but no tears for mama.

My sister called me when I was at work to tell me that “Mama was dying.” Silence. “Are y’all at the hospital?” I asked. Then she said yeah and waited for me to say that I was on my way but I never said that. I didn’t leave my job until very late that night. Then I drove slowly, very slowly to my house. I got on Facebook and discovered that mama was dead.

I didn’t want to be around all the drama. All the howling and shouting that accompanies the death of a family member. I was in the room when my uncle was dying of AIDS, along with all of my other family members, until I looked at his face twitching and his body convulsing. My Aunt rubbed his forehead and gently gave him permission to let go and said that it was OK. I left. I went into the waiting room until I heard all of the lord have mercies accompanied by the guttural moans. When I came back in he was still and gone. At the age of 14 I didn’t cry. I remember feeling very proud of myself and ashamed for my family for not letting the man die alone. I told myself that if I should perish in a room full of people then I would use my last breath to say, “Get the fuck out.”

It’s strange because most people believe that is the most honorable way to die but not me. I would never want my family to see me weak. Maybe god won’t forgive me for being so prideful, maybe my family won’t respect my wishes when I tell them to leave or perhaps I’ll die very suddenly and it won’t matter.

My grandmother’s death wasn’t sudden at all. It seemed as though she died steadily for about 10-years straight. She slowly lost everything. At some point I could no longer tolerate it so I ran. I ran to the boxing gym, I ran to my job, I ran 10 miles a day. All the while the powerful lady who bore 12 children and never forgot anyone’s birthday began suffering from senility. She saw things that no one else could see and started to tell secrets that only she knew and I heard about all of this through the gossipers because I was gone; away, inside my own head, hiding from memories of me trying to take care of her and her leaving, saying that we were trying to poison her, she’ll never know how much that hurt, I held my grudge, now she’s in the dirt, what does it matter, it doesn’t matter at all because mama is dead.

I work all day. I run around the Lake and I sweat. I bought my daughter a new pair of shoes. I flirt with the women. I talk shit with the fellas. I forgot how to cry. Does that make me a real man now?

Am I a real man?

-YB

Notes on abortion amongst black women in New York

I recently came across a statistic that bothered me more than anything I’ve read in several years and, to be frank, I read a lot of very depressing literature. The statistic is that in New York City there are more abortions than live births for black women (http://blackamericaweb.com/2014/02/27/in-n-y-c-more-abortions-than-live-births-for-black-women/).

 

Now before all of the women that may come across this blog cringe at the thought of another man expressing his feelings on abortion, I would like to say that I fully realize that as a man I will never be pregnant and thus I will never be in a situation where I have to personally consider getting an abortion. Maybe it isn’t my place to speak on what women should and should not do with their bodies but as a black man it behooves me to decry the low cultural self-esteem and internalized racism amongst black people that this study confirms.

 

The study goes on to say that although abortions in New York City were down overall black women comprised 42.4 percent of the abortions performed.

 

When I finished reading the article I was at a loss. What happened to the idea of black folk handing down our dreams to our children no matter how bleak our current circumstances may be? If the whole country is stuck in a recession and a whole generation of young people are coming into adulthood mired in debt that they don’t have the means to pay off due to their inability to obtain employment then how is it that unborn black babies suffer more than any other demographic?

 

Has abortion become completely normalized in the black community?

 

When I was in high school if you got your girlfriend pregnant then you were supposed to “make her get an abortion.” Now as I tread deeper into the murky, unknown waters of manhood I see that a lot of my peers have been unable to shake this mentality. I know a lot of men who hold complete bitterness and hostility toward the very notion of them being a father.

 

“The bitch trapped me.”

 

“I don’t think she’s really pregnant.”

 

“I want a paternity test.”

 

These are all very strong sentiments that undoubtedly have a tremendous impact of the decision-making process of a black woman who all of a sudden finds herself to be in a pregnant condition. It’s hard for me to blame a sista for voluntarily choosing not to bring a child into this world out-of-wedlock knowing that she is going to have to raise the child without the assistance of the child’s father.

 

I do, however, wish that we remembered how much the descendants of Africa have historically cherished life. Be it on a rural plantation in Georgia or post earthquake Haiti blacks have always found hope in keeping our culture going strong. No matter how impossible our situation may appear to outsiders, we have never given up because quitting is probably the most Un-African thing a person can do.

 

It saddens me to know that the majority of black women in New York City have been led to believe that the termination of the spirit growing inside them is the most logical course of action to be taken.

 

-YB

Viewing happiness through my own lens

At some point you’re guaranteed to feel like a fool when you’re searching for something that may not even exist. Too many of us look outward for love instead of staring at our souls and preparing ourselves for whatever life may make of us. Just because you’re by yourself does not mean you have to feel lonely. And of course the inverse of this fact is also true, as my life has proven.

 

I’ve been in very large rooms full of people with alcohol flowing and music vibrating the walls and all I wanted to do was leave. I just wanted to be as alone as I felt. I’ve lain beside women that I find to be repulsive only because I didn’t want to sleep alone. And as they took up space in my room and marred my faith, I only wished that they would leave. Or better yet that I would have had the strength to never have invited them.

 

I have just recently begun asking myself if instead of looking for a life-partner I should be searching for spiritual contentment. Perhaps this contentment will include a wife and more offspring but then maybe it won’t. There are many forms of happiness just like there are many forms of misery. The question that resonates in my mind as I compose this piece is “If joy should come into my life in completely untraditional garb would I be able to recognize it?”

 

I need to care even less about what people say and how I may look. I need to be able to see positivity through my own lens and completely disregard how that may appear to someone else.

-YB

Where I am

Jesus Christ never raised his voice at his followers. That’s what I think about every time I’m sitting in a church and the pastor begins to yell at the congregation. I think why is all of this necessary? When is this going to be over? Why am I here?

 

Sometimes I just want to experience the gospel without the theatrics. Sometimes I want to give to people in need on my own accord rather than to place my money gold-colored collection plate. Well actually that’s more like all the time. I’m at the point in my journey where I no longer want to dress up in luxurious clothes so everyone can admire me while I worship. I no longer want to nod my head, say amen, and get down on my knees because another man tells me to. I want to follow god and not a preacher’s interpretation of who god is. That’s where I am right now.

-YB

When Manhood was a Myth

 

And then sometimes I want to go back to the days when manhood was just a myth. When we used to sell wolf tickets about the girls we had been with to try to conceal the fact that we were still pure. When we used to pay local drug addicts to buy us cheap liquor from the Arab stores and drink until we threw up. When we used to have cap sessions for hours. I talked about his fat bottom lip because he tried to clown me about my wide nostrils. Then he talked about my old shoes so I got on him about his black ass mama. That’s when he started getting serious which meant that I had won.

 

This was before Sean got shot to death and before he went to San Quentin and even before juvenile hall. This was before H.G. lost his mind and started living on the streets and before his girlfriend had his baby and didn’t let him see his own son. This was before Kamari went to prison for life. Before he violated those women and told us that he didn’t do it but the newspaper down in San Jose said otherwise and so did the jury.

 

This was when we all played junior varsity football and we all wanted to play in the NFL and be millionaires and have all the women and pull up to the club in an old school Mustang or a brand new Lamborghini like Latrell Sprewell, C&H, and The Luniz. When we used to get on the bus all musty after practice and see a girl from school and argue over which one of us should go and try to get her number.

 

This was before I lost touch and shut down. Before my daughter was born. Before I got arrested for the first time but was never charged and started having daily fantasies about killing the police officers who harassed me and sneaking out-of-town never to return again and being a ghetto folk hero like Frank Matthews.

 

These were the days when I used to fall in love everyday with some beautiful girl that I couldn’t have as opposed to this day where I have a beautiful women that I don’t know how to love. When we believed in our future success like we believed in the words of Tupac. When we used to roam the halls of our high schools together acting way harder than we ever were. Before I had to write them letters in prison and before I had to visit them in the cemetery and before they came to my house in unkempt clothes and disheveled hair asking for a dollar, we were all friends.

 

We all wanted to be men. We all wanted to be somebody.

-YB

Soulful V: “Only the Strong go Crazy” is 12/7/13

If you are anywhere near the San Francisco Bay Area then you need to get to this event this Saturday Night…Thank me later.

SoulfulVflyer

“Soulful V: Only the Strong go Crazy” is going to shine the artistic flashlight on mental illness in our community. It was the great revolutionary Assata Shakur who once wrote “Only the strong go crazy, the weak just go along” so on Saturday, December 7th at 8:00pm at the Grand Lake Coffee House six of the best independent artists in Oakland (Amol Ray, Demetrius Raiford, Luisa Lejia, Taijhet Nyobi, Victoria Michelle, and Do DAT) will refuse to just go along. We will read dynamic poems, perform passionate prose, and sing beautiful songs to create awareness for mental health.

It’s $5 at the door and a portion of the proceeds will go towards “Beats, Rhymes, & Life” a community based non profit in Oakland that is dedicated to promoting positive mental health outcomes among marginalized youth through hip-hop.

Also please support the closing act DO D.A.T. who will be selling his critically acclaimed album “Skinny 2: Bare Bones” for only $5.

Check the line up!

Luisa Leija’s work arrives in the form of dances, prayers, and invocations of a universal spirit. Her words call us to recognize ourselves within the world we inhabit; a world that equally inhabits us. Drawing from the indigenous traditions of the Americas, Xican@ and Mexican culture, Luisa unifies themes of community, family, history, and ceremony into a seamless journey through the mystery of human existence. A search for transformation, for truth, for connection, is ever-present throughout Luisa’s work, an endeavor that is both timely and inspiring for our present world.

Demetrius Raiford is a writer, poet, hip-hop artist and current student at Laney College. He is originally from San Francisco, CA but now currently resides in Oakland.

Taijhet Nyobi teaches poetry and performance art to youth in the Bay Area. Her poetry has been published by Saul Williams and various literary magazines. Currently, she performs with local Bay Area theater productions and independent film projects, and is the 2013 recipient for Astraea’s Global Arts Fund. She is currently starring in the Oakland based web series “Dyke Central.”

Somewhere between a fond love for the double helix, a youth spent making music in various forms, and an attempt at anthropology, you have Victoria Michelle. Frequently noted as a “wordsmith”, Victoria is currently a graduate student in Anthropology at UC Berkeley who has been making her way through the Bay Area open mic scene since April 2012. Her style employs philosophy to a flow in hopes of building a bridge between academic and public discourse. But at the end of the day, her primary goal is to excavate emotion from the depths to provoke the possibility of genuine feeling and thinking. She is currently working on her first chapbook of poetry titled “She” as a reflection her journey as a young woman coming-of-age in her own skin.

Davin A. Thompson, professionally known as Do D.A.T, is an emcee, arts educator and event host, born and raised in Oakland, CA. Throughout his career, Do D.A.T has released four albums, as a member of “The Attik” crew,
as a solo artist, and most recently collaborating with DJ/Producer Malicious.
Listen to his music @bandcamp.dodat1.com

Amol Ray is the son of Indian immigrants and was raised in Saint Louis, Missouri. He has a writing style that is just as unique as his upbringing and he possesses a natural ability to poke fun at the cultural practices that most young Americans view as being normal. He is an alum of the highly prestigious VONA workshop and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College in Oakland, CA. He’s a also a very proud father.