BlaPoWriMo: Bad All by Herself

Girl,
Ain’t nothin’ on yo head ugly.
Don’t you know nappy the new Black?

And you Black
Which makes you better.

Smooth like cocoa butter on yo elbows and knees
Quenching like shea butter saturatin’ them kinks.

Girl,
You glowin’
And I ain’t done a thing.

—Nortina


Written for Black Poetry Writing Month, 2017— a fortnight of “black” love poetry. Join the challenge and share your love poems today!

Black Poetry Writing Month: Write a Poem that Promotes Self-Love

Black Bourgeoisie

has a gold tooth, sits long hours
on a stool thinking about money.
sees white skin in a secret room
rummages his sense for sense
dreams about Lincoln (s)
conks his daughter’s hair
sends his coon to school
works very hard
grins politely in restaurants
has a good word to say
never says it
does not hate ofays
hates, instead, him self
him black self.

—Amiri Baraka

 

The primary objective for phrases such as Black is Beautiful, Black and Proud, Black Girl Magic, Black Lives Matter, Black Girls Rock, and many others is to promote self-love in a society where hatred of the black body is the norm. They are also meant to combat self-hatred, which is very common within the black community.

Self-hatred stems from the internalization of others’ opinions about ourselves. Let’s look at hair as an example. For years, black women have put dangerous chemicals into their hair to alter its naturally kinky texture because the dominant society has said their hair is too “nappy,” too “ugly,” and too “unprofessional.” Today, many black woman are tossing those assumptions to the wind and embracing their natural hair, which is beautiful. However, there are still a lot of people, men and women, in the black community who don’t like natural hair, whether it’s preferring loser curl patterns over kinkier ones, or “liking” natural hair but still thinking the afro is unkempt.

woman-with-natural-hair

Another example would be the contempt that upper (or middle) class black folk (or the black bourgeoisie) often have toward those from the lower class. They think they’re better. They may have a degree and a good paying job and so assume that all blacks who live on minimum wage are lazy. They may view all black men who wear oversized clothing and talk slang are thugs. They may try their hardest to fit into society and pretend they’re not as “colored” as those loud, ghetto blacks over there. They may spend most of their time trying to prove that common stereotypes associated with black people applies to ever other black person but themselves. They may prefer to socialize with white people or people of other ethnicities over blacks because blacks “don’t know how to act” in public.

All of these are forms of internalized self-hate. While some may not see it that way, we have to remember where assumptions like the “too nappy” afro hair or the “loud, ghetto, don’t know how to act in public” black person originated. It wasn’t from blacks, but after hundreds of years of being beaten down and oppressed by slavery, and later by Jim Crow, black people have unknowingly accepted those horrible stereotypes about themselves as truths. Now, we’re doing the jobs of the racists for them, putting ourselves down. It’s time we break that cycle.

For today’s BlaPoWriMo prompt, write a poem that embraces black beauty and promotes the love of all black people—relaxed and natural, quiet and loud, well-behaved and party animals, educated and street smart. Let’s break the cycle of self-hate.

—Nortina

#BlaPoWriMo: Dark Girls – Different Shades of Darkness

Lyf Mindset Strategies

black_women

Black Girls, Brown Girls, Dark Girls,

We come in all flavors.

Some are in shades of Black, Brown,

Caramel, Red, and Yellow.

Some are tall, short, round,

thick, thin, and curvy.

We are intellectual, musical,

inspirational, sensational, and motivational.

We are mothers, sisters, grandmothers, teachers,

pastors, writers, artists, leaders, executives,

administrators,  friends, wives, doctors, lawyers,

scientists, entertainers, athletes, CEOs,

Congresswomen, and even the First Lady.

Some of us have been hurt, rejected, segregated,

despised, hated, loved, celebrated,

liberated, married, divorced, manipulated,

encouraged, and discouraged.

Some have failed, been to jailed,

burned, killed, raped, mutilated, humiliated,

demonstrated, birthed nations,

and raised other folks babies.

We have long hair, short hair, curly hair,

nappy hair, kinky hair, wavy, and weaves.

Some are sometimes happy, sad, excited, delighted,

belligerent, diligent, militant, anxious,

suspicious, malicious, meticulous, ridiculous,

talented, creative, successful, classy,

sassy, talkative, sensitive, insensitive,

sensual, sexy, spiritual, holistic, charismatic,

charming, and gracious.

But, all of us know the experience

of…

View original post 6 more words

#BlaPoWriMo: Formation

esescogitation

201031map003 Nigerian art

It is formation not damnation

Unless confusion is your circus and your real appellation

Be it Bey, Nicki, Kanye or Rhi-rhi

Each with a sword a double edged sword

The one which uses words that you and I can also reword.

Absurdity, insanity, profanity at its highest peak

Formation, evolution, generation, inception, the list goes on and on…

You choose to see the bad? I choose to see the good

Beyonce-and-followers-in-V-formation-670x473

View original post

Black Poetry Writing Month: Write a Poem for the “Dark Girl”

To a Dark Girl

I love you for your brownness
And the rounded darkness of your breast.
I love you for the breaking sadness in your voice
And shadows where your wayward eye-lids rest.

Something of old forgotten queens
Lurks in the lithe abandon of your walk,
And something of the shackled slave
Sobs in the rhythm of your talk.

Oh, little brown girl, born for sorrow’s mate,
Keep all you have of queenliness,
Forgetting that you once were slave,
And let your full lips laugh at Fate!

—Gwendolyn Bennett, from Caroling Dusk: An Anthology of Verse by Negro Poets (1927)

 

Saartjie “Sarah” Baartman is recognized today as the first video vixen, probably the most degrading “first” of an African or person of color in all of history. Similar to the video vixens of today, who shows off their bodies to the pleasure of men in raunchy (usually rap) music videos, Saartjie Baartman was paraded around Europe in a traveling circus, her body put on display under the title, Hottentot Venus.

Black women’s bodies have always been a topic of discussion; since Saartjie Baartman, they’ve always been “on exhibit.” European explorers marveled at the African woman’s larger breasts, buttocks, and labia. They described their physical traits as abnormal to that of white woman. African women were characterized as hypersexual while white women were viewed as pure and delicate. White men put their wives on pedestals—frail, virginal angels, barely able to withstand childbirth—while at night they snuck into the slave quarters and lived out their sexual fantasies with the “jezebel” slave women, usually without consent.

jezebel-large

This why so many slave mothers dreaded having daughters, because they knew the stigma of their bodies would force them to grow up too fast, that their masters’ eyes would soon be wandering. This is why fugitive slave and author of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl,  Harriet Jacobs, hid in an attack for seven years before finally escaping to the North. This is why Margaret Garner, the inspiration behind Toni Morrison’s Beloved, killed her two-year-old daughter with a butcher knife rather than allow her to be recaptured into slavery.

After her death in 1815, Saartjie Baartman’s body was dissected, her genitalia and buttocks analyzed as if they were scientific specimens. Her skeleton and body cast was put on display until 1974 and 1976 respectively when feminist argued for its removal on the grounds that it was a degrading representation of women. However, her remains weren’t returned to her home soil in South Africa until 2002, after endless legal back and forth.

I love Gwendolyn Bennett’s poem because it pays homage to the Dark Girl like Saartjie Baartman. She was physically characterized as abnormal and ugly, and was exploited as a sex object, but she is still a Queen. From her brown skin, to her round buttocks, to her full lips and wide nose, she is still beautiful. From the pain and depravity she had to endure while enslaved, she has only grown stronger. This is why Beyoncé’s new song “Formation” has quickly become and anthem for black women. Like “To a Dark Girl,” it expresses racial pride and affirmation of black female beauty.

OK, ladies, now let's get in formation, 'cause I slay . . .
OK, ladies, now let’s get information, ’cause I slay . . .

For today’s BlaPoWriMo prompt, write a poem for the dark girl. What delicacies do you see within her that the world has historically turned a blind eye to? Now is her time to be raised up on a pedestal. Debunk all the stereotypes. Admire her for her royal, brown elegance and grace alone.

—Nortina