But what about the redwoods, and the black women, and the future? What about cool days when fog protects you from the sun and you know that god has your back. What about all of your trophies in the living room and the recognition plaques on the walls? What about all of the people that appreciate what you do? Some of them tell you and some of them don’t but they all need you to be here.
Sometimes I wish that I didn’t bruise so easily but I do. Sometimes I bruise when I’m touched and the pain lasts for years. Sometimes even words leave permanent marks on my flesh. Sometimes cruel text messages do as well. Sometimes when people act like they don’t need me, I believe them.
But what about views of the Pacific Ocean from the Berkeley Hills? What about Lake Merritt on Sunday afternoons? What about fresh doughnuts from King Pins? What about your purpose? What about the fight and he struggle? What about taking a nap in the parking lot when the day is hot and being woken up by the beads of sweat gathering on your cheek only to roll down your window at the exact time a breeze is passing through, and all at once you are revitalized.
You deserve awesome things. You were born deserving them and before you perish you will get them and so much more. Be patient and be persistent. I love you. I will continue to love you. I believe in you. I trust you. I got you. We will do this.
As I lay here between these sheets using these letters as a pianist uses the keys of a piano to express himself through sound, I write for clarity and not necessarily for the final product. I just want to make my ordeal visible. Whatever kind of joy or yearning that I am experiencing I don’t want it to fester inside of me. I need to be able to dissect it. And I need to know that I will not be judged for my humanity. That no one will talk wreckless to me for not healing fast enough or for being petty. I need a place where I can be in my feelings without someone telling me that I’m in my feelings. I need to be able to take that mask off that Dunbar was talking about and be me, while I still know who I am. I write in my bed before I brush my teeth or use the bathroom or return that phone call or put my Pop Tarts in the microwave so I can know what I’m up against internally. So that I can know how I feel and deal with it accordingly. I write to remind myself that I am a human-being.
As I navigate the world I feel the burdens of my darkness making every step nearly impossible. Eventually I become overwhelmed so I stop to sort things out. And then when I stop everything is gone. As soon as I stop moving, the puzzle pieces disintegrate then they disappear and I am left with an empty box and no chance at putting it all together. It is in this sense that rest becomes an oasis. For every time I go to sleep I wake up knowing that true rest doesn’t exist. How can a man wake up feeling tired yet he has nowhere to be?
The voices that speak to me are barely audible and when I try to listen to them they flee. I keep telling myself that I should be grateful but I am not because I know that I have lost something very essential to my being. And that is the ability to assemble love from blocks of depression. For so many years I have been able to duck right before capitalism beheaded me. I have been able to go deep inside of myself and mine for solace until I reached my quota. I have, in the past, been able to keep my muse from moving but now she runs. I am hideous. I am pathetic. I am lost.
You can’t pay me for my identity. I’m not going to sell my dreams for an office with my name on the door. My life is haunted by struggle. Whenever I get my hands on money, poverty beckons. The Trap tells me to come back home. Indeed I never left. Poverty is when you let an outside entity tell you who you are and even worse, what you should strive to become. I live my life the eternal outsider, never interested in opening the door, never in the middle of the dance floor, never a member of the rank and file.
Let them distance themselves from me and I will feed off of their repulsion. Let me be young and black, let me be the ghetto sun that provides the heat and the fire and always rises. Let me be misunderstood. Let me be crazy. I want the voices in my head to trust me again. Trust that I will never betray them, that I will depict them accurately. That I will never place any occupation before them ever again. That I will never pursuit ungodly things before I have first given you life. I will accept your anger, your screaming, and your rage if only you will speak to me. For without your presence in my soul I am an ordinary man. A worker. A follower. A completely disposable human being. A wasted dream. This time around you won’t have to chase me down after work. This time I will come to you.
If you are going to be anywhere near the San Francisco Bay Area next Wednesday night then you have to come to this event. DON’T MISS IT!
If you will be anywhere near the San Francisco Bay Area on 5/28 the you need to come to this event.
The Fire THIS Time” will be a night of SUPERDOPE poetry you won’t soon forget, with dynamic performances by:
Dom Jones & Donte Clark!
You will definitely want to be in the building as two of the illest poets in the state of California tell us what it means to be young, black, and aware in these tragic yet inspiring times.
There will also be an open mic session so don’t forget to bring your own poems with you. This musical, poetic and politically conscious event will be hosted by the lyrically gifted and all around righteous brotha Davin “Do Dat” Thompson. Not to mention sets buy the ultra smooth band WVG.
In addition to the excitement onstage,
The hottest young entrepreneurs in Oakland will be selling their products in the lobby. So please support:
“Oakland’s Own” – the freshest clothing company in town &
“The Cake & Sugar Company” – the best cupcakes you will EVER taste!
This event is guaranteed to be the realist thing to happen in Oakland since Festival at the Lake.
Only $10 at the door / you can purchase your tickets early, here!
See you all at The Fire THIS Time
As much as I loved to see Bree Newsome climb that flagpole and put in serious work this morning, I have to confess that taking down the Confederate Flag won’t make me feel any better. Drafting stricter gun control laws won’t put my soul at ease either. What would make me feel better about the nine people murdered while they prayed in a South Carolina church is if the person who killed them was actually treated like a mass murderer as opposed to a child who threw a temper tantrum or unconsciously hurt someone’s feelings.
I was sickened when I saw the arrest of Dylann Roof. Perhaps even more sickened than when I read about his initial crime. In the video he pulls over to the side of the road and is very calmly and gently handcuffed and walked to an awaiting squad car.
It is confirmed that the officers later took him to Burger King because he said that he was hungry. There was no repulsion from the officers, no rage, no yelling, no violent search, none of the officers roughly crammed his body to into the patrol car after he was handcuffed. No. It was almost as if they all felt sorry for the kid. The 21 year-old-kid who accidentally walked into a church, befriended a prayer group and then blew all of its members away. They treated this heathen as if he had done god’s work.
I’ve seen a child as young as 12-years-old have his head slammed against the trunk of squad cars for participating in a dice game. I’ve seen suspects pulled out of car windows, and I’ve seen faces smashed into the concrete by arresting officers. Just at the beginning of this month Dajerria Becton was slammed to the ground and had a cop put all of his bodyweight on her because she was suspected of attempting to illegally enter a swimming pool, but Dylann Roof on the other hand—Dylann Roof is a special kind of suspect. He could be any police officer’s child or brother or, to be quite honest, he could be any police officer. They probably envied him for being able to kill all of those black people at same time while they can only pick them off one by one.
One can see that the officers care about Dylann Roof in the same way that the judge at his arraignment showed that he cares for him by announcing that Dylann’s family are victims. The Judge said this at a time when Dylann could have literally still had the blood of those which he had slain on his flesh. He could have still had gunpowder residue on his fingertips and his adrenaline was probably still charged from his bold strike for the white race yet, in that moment, he is viewed sympathetically and that judge and those officers and maybe even the whole system have the compassion to immediately see the humanity in this killer. Even though he has yet to apologize or express remorse. He hasn’t found Jesus or cried or looked afraid or ashamed yet the system has a place in its heart for the Dylann Roof’s of the world. I mean I’m sure that one could ask any drug dealer in Charlotte or Raleigh (who hasn’t killed anyone) is it North Carolina state policy to buy suspects fast food after an arrest and they would laugh out loud.
If one had any doubts about the existence of white privilege in every single facet of the American Judicial System then the handling of Dylann Roof should burn that doubt to a crisp similarly to how Dylann was photographed burning the American flag. So no I really don’t care if every state building in the South takes down the Confederate Flag or if every major retail store in America refuses to sell it. For the original Confederacy was a group of treasonous guerillas that rejected federal law by violent means therefore I’m sure the descendants of these individuals will not hesitate to continue to wave its flag and believe in its principles whether it’s on front of the state capital building or not.
All I wanted was for law enforcement to look past the color of a suspect just once to see that Dylann is a vile human-being who need not be treated delicately and need not be given a value meal on his way to jail. But that didn’t happen. America has waved its true flag in dealing with the South Carolina massacre and that flag isn’t orange and blue nor is it red white and blue. That flag isn’t decorated with stars and bars nor is it decorated with stars and stripes. That flag is all white. For white is the only color that has ever mattered in this country.
If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area then you should come to this event on Friday Night.
2926 Foothill Blvd #1, Oakland, California 94601
Join us for a night filled with the moving words of Roger Porter and music by the mesmerizing Azuah.
Donations will be kindly requested, though no one will be turned away for lack of funds.
Roger Porter is a writer and educator from Oakland, CA, USA, whose first book, The Souls of Hood Folk, is available at lulu.com. He describes himself as, “An average everyday man from East Oakland who writes about average everyday hood life.” He blogs at ghettosun.com.
Inspired by the mesmerizing sounds of Lianne La Havas and the soulfulness in the music of Allen Stone, Azuah is underway of making her debut in the music world as an alternative folk and blues artist with just the right touch of soul. Her emotionally provocative songwriting in juxtaposition with her haunting melodies captivates her audiences from the first note until the last strum.
There is ample street parking, but just to make it easy, there is an O’Reilly Auto Parts/Walgreens on the corner of Fruitvale and Foothill with a huge parking lot. Here’s a Google Map link: https://www.google.com/maps/place/O’Reilly+Auto+Partsemail@example.com,-122.233008,14z/data=!4m5!1m2!2m1!1so+reilly+auto+parts+near+Foothill+Blvd,+Oakland,+CA!3m1!1s0x0000000000000000:0xa74c9fbc2152bd68
Nomadic Press should show up on that map as well. We are just in between Austin and Rutherford on Foothill.
Hope to see you soon!
Somewhere along the way I lost confidence in my solitude and became dependent on that which cannot be trusted. This must have happened around the same time my soul was uprooted, the soil beneath my feet eroded, and I realized that I was disappearing. One can only trust a person to be a person. Unfortunately I put my trust in humanity and strayed away from my craft. Flesh is tempting yet woefully unfulfilling. We were all born having to carry the burden of the original sin thus we spend our whole lives falling. On this night I want to begin the process of falling in love with myself yet again.
I slept for far too long last night. So long that I woke up still feeling lethargic as if the entire day had escaped my grasp and I would have to wait until tomorrow to do something productive. I lay in my bed feeling like stagnation is my only option, like why should I even try, like my efforts won’t make any kind of difference in the world. I woke up feeling like no amount of education that I could ever receive would stop any white authority figure from killing me in the street or prevent any group of neighborhood goons from robbing my house or stop my loved ones from losing their minds.
I could get a PhD and be a professor at the most prestigious university in the world yet somehow, someway I would be reminded everyday that I was brought to this country to be a slave and nothing more. To be dependent and illiterate, to never own anything, and to always be humble. Lauryn Hill once said, “I look at my environment and I wonder where the fire went” and she spoke the absolute truth.
Every time I walk down Macarthur Boulevard or Bancroft or E14th in East Oakland I wonder what happened. Why can’t we have a thriving black business district like Mexican-Americans, Asians, and Whites? Why do we allow Arabs to sell drugs legally (alcohol which they do not consume) from every corner in my community while young black men get arrested for selling drugs in front of the same stores? Why do we create music that places strippers on a pedestal while simultaneously devaluing educated businesswomen who work for paychecks and not dollar bills? Why don’t we have our own police force comprised of people who are actually from our community and look like us instead of a bunch of white boys who grew up in places like Castro Valley and Napa and have no idea what its like to grow up in the hood? And finally why is the objective of successful blacks always to leave the hood as opposed to making the hood better? When experts speak of the phenomenon of brain drought they often discuss it in reference to developing countries like Pakistan and India when they ought to be looking at how this phenomenon has manifested itself domestically. The American ghetto has been the birthplace of the most creative, brilliant, and transformative minds that this world has ever known yet with each individual success there is a departure, which leaves the same void that ultimately, keeps the black ghetto from becoming a respectable fully contained black community. Our most capable compatriots would rather work for the white man than work for themselves. We have digested so much hatred for so long that we no longer question what white society is feeding us. So we spend our whole lives trying to be validated by our oppressor and of course we fail. We move out into the suburbs in an effort to be accepted by whites and of course we are rejected. We go to their schools and sacrifice knowledge-of-self for academic success only to spend the rest of our adult lives confused about who we truly are.
What happened to the revolution? We are currently in the midst of a movement that is screaming Black Lives Matter to white people in an age where we don’t value our own lives. We don’t know that we come from greatness. We don’t know that we were the original people. We don’t know that our women are the most envied in the entire world. At what point do we put ourselves first? At what point do we keep our resources in our community?
To be a Black-American in the 21st century is such a bizarre experience. The summer before last I found myself in Paris approaching the Eiffel Tower when I saw a young black man with a Wiz Khalifa shirt on. The day before that I had seen a young Parisian man driving down the street with a Compton hat on. It tripped me out when I realized the impact that my people have on global culture. I thought about the dichotomy of on the one hand having the entire world wanting to be just like you while on the other hand being a member of a culture that continues to be robbed of its self-esteem and made to feel inferior to every other culture. And so many of us die not knowing that so many people the world over would die to be us.
We have been asleep for too long. Our luminaries have left us in the dark and we have somehow learned to make being blind fashionable. But we still need vision. We need to see that how other people see us is not nearly as important as how we see ourselves. We need to see that we can make our own community better but first we need to see that it’s worth it. We need to see the humanity in one another. We need to see the beauty in ourselves. We need to wake up, get out of bed, and unlearn all of this hate.
I stand alone even when I am in the middle of a great body of people. I don’t lend myself to the movement or to the moment but rather I am always hyper-aware of my own individuality. People die not knowing what love is. At times I wish that I could have spent my entire life in such oblivion. If only I could have never loved then I wouldn’t know the acute pain of having to lose what you are convinced that you need. My circle of family and friends is too small to even make a circle. Trust is an issue and love is a liability.
At some point I adopted the mentality that a man should never be vulnerable and when I think about it, isn’t that what love is? Isn’t love accepting the reality that you need another person to feel complete? Isn’t falling in love merely a romanticized sacrifice of one’s own individuality? Love is a stain. Love is a handicap. Love is a selfish thing that never gives back what it takes. Often times I’ll sit back and reflect on all the ways that my own lens victimizes me. How the trauma that comes along with betrayal has tainted my interactions with others.
There are gorgeous days when I somehow manage to keep the pain contained in my subconscious mind. Days when I feel free enough to ask for guidance, to ask for help, to ask for salvation. There are nights when I feel connected to an entity that exists outside of my own flesh. There are days when I allow myself to draw the conclusion that staying alone does not necessarily mean being alone. And on these nights I dream half a dream and she conjures up the missing piece. When the sun rises we put the pieces together. We speak on a shared future. We plan out our day, our weekend, our lives, and everything feels very normal. Then I fall asleep again in poor health and wake up feeling just as guilty as a junky that has relapsed once again. I stand alone in front of the shrine paying homage to my lost soul and hoping that god will listen to a man who refuses to get on his knees.