14 February 2015

The Love Project #14

*Note: I am failing at completing this project but that's good for me to know. Learn and grow. 

#14: Loving Love

I love love
I like the rush of discovery
The slow, methodical process of getting to know something new
I like the excitement of infatuation
The burn of desire
Holding love in my hands and heart
Throwing my head back with pure joy
The tingle of anticipation. 

I LOVE love
But I don't know if I've ever been in love
If I've ever fallen completely
Losing myself
But gaining something bigger
That's what I imagine it is
To truly love someone else

I l-o-v-e love
A long walk into endless conversation
A slow fall into a soft bed
Or someone's arms
Whispered voices under soft sheets
Warm limbs and lips
That is as close as I get to heaven

I love love
More than it loves me

04 February 2015

The Love Project #3: For the Love of Sleep

#3: For the Love of Sleep

I do it for the love of sleep
I run myself aground for the promise
Of eight unbroken hours
In my sanctuary
My bed

I sleep cocooned in the comforter
Of knowledge of days off and late sleep
I wake reluctant to rise
And quick to fall again into oblivion

I spent too many years forcing my eyes open
For tests and quizzes and facts
I can barely remember
Now nothing stands in the way of my sleep

I grind for myself
And rest when I must
Because I've earned the right
To show my love with contented snores
And no one can stop me

03 February 2015

The Love Project #2: A Love Letter to Ava

*I'm  already behind a day because I keep overbooking myself on my days off but ho-hum not going to stop the train because of a hiccup. 

#2: A Love Letter to Ava

How do you do it? 
How do you capture us
In all our hues and shades
Coloring us in so we are full

Sometimes it feels like our story
Is one long length of hardship
Re shaping itself into teardrops
But you shift that tide
Until we are riding waves of joy

When I look at your art
I see my great-great-grandfather
Born to slaves cum sharecroppers
Who sat with me and marveled at how I could read
At only 4
His face etched with lines like Cager Lee
Who couldn't vote until he was 84

I followed Maye as she waded through
The detritus of a loved one's life
And felt beaten down my own choices and
Fears writ large back at me
Staring into a picture of yourself
Scarily accurate and challenging
And not flinching
Thank you for that reflection

Adrift in the middle of nowhere
But buoyed by quiet moments
Bus rides across well-worn miles
Your art is the blessing of knowing you're not alone

Sometimes it is frustrating
Feeling as if nothing changes
The same images recycling us
Like we have no nuance or distinction
Running on the hamster wheel
A never ending winter of our discontent

Your art feels like spring buds
Reaching for sun rays on a cold day
A newness that puts our lives onscreen
In full technicolor and HD
Nothing is dimmed, dulled, or daunting
You show me the unwavering wholeness of myself
And I cannot turn away

01 February 2015

The Love Project

*Writer's Note: Full disclosure, I love this month. Generally, I always enjoy February. You've got Black History, unlimited chocolates, and I can wear red lipstick every day; but this year February feels even more special. Look at that month. All the days perfectly aligned and full. There's even a Friday the 13th in there for good measure. And because I'm so enamoured with this particular month, I'll be writing one "love" poem a day. Now L-O-V-E can mean lots of different things so I'll be exploring all of it. In honor of the Superbowl (and my Patriots being in it) my first poem is going to be about patriotism. 

21 October 2014

Time Stands Still

 There’s a scene in the documentary Time is Illmatic where the frame is filled with photos taken for the cover of Nas’ seminal album Illmatic. They are snapshots of an era. Queensbridge. New York. 1994. In many ways, those scenes will never be captured again but they also haven’t changed. Set against the backdrop of this groundbreaking album, these first time filmmakers, One9 and Erik Parker, take the viewer on a trip from the Great Migration, through redlining, to the beginnings of hip hop and the takeover of crack to show the audience how Nasir Jones made an album that would become a defining experience for many.

16 September 2014

On Spanking, Pathologizing White Violence and Using Common Sense

In the wake of the Adrian Peterson child abuse case, the Twitteratti and the Facebook "politicians" have begun an extensive debate around the idea of what's just a "whooping" and what exactly is child abuse. As a Black American, the idea of a whooping does not shock nor horrify me. I was on the receiving end of a few in my youth and I remember the horrified looks on my White classmates faces when my Black friends and I would sit around the cafeteria table and wax nostalgic about the beatings we'd received as children. Back then, my White classmates would exclaim about these acts and how wrong they were and at the time I didn't have the courage or the understanding to tell them the truth: everything Blacks in America learned about discipline, we learned from White people.

02 July 2014

On Robin Thicke, White Male Privilege and the Black Female Body

In 12 Years a Slave  there's a scene where Michael Fassbender's Master Epps corners Lupita Nyong'o's Patsey and desperately whispers and moans his desire for her as he slowly rapes her. The scene is unflinching and Steve McQueen shows us every moment of Patsey's torture and Epp's mental instability. He's caught between a heinous desire and shame for wanting this woman whom he ultimately views as a work-horse. By the time Patsey begs Solomon to take her life, we are there with her. Anything to get her away from this man.

About a week ago, Robin Thicke released his music video for the single "Get Her Back" off his new album Paula. The album is a seeming ode to his estranged wife Paula Patton whom he separated with in February. In the video, Thicke presents himself as a battered man, broken by his love for this woman. He is desperate, he is in love, he is baring his soul (and their private messages), why won't she love him back?

Much has been written about the abuser dynamics and the public shaming Thicke is attempting with this album but what of the issues of privilege and power being played out here?

Thicke has built most of his career on emulating the sound and style of Black musicians, even going as far as to allegedly steal from the legendary Marvin Gaye without giving him credit. Thicke has engaged in a level of privilege that so many White artists have. He has the ability to take the parts of Black culture that suit him and profit off of them while discarding the rest. Furthermore, that privilege was bolstered by his Black wife. She gave him the "street cred" to push the boundaries of Black culture to its excesses. Patton and her assets have been heavily featured in his music videos adding to his cachet for snagging one of the "baddest" Black women in the entertainment industry. Therefore, Paula (and Paula) becomes a lamentation not only about lost love but lost power. And Thicke has been aggressively seeking to gain that power back. The video, his numerous pleas onstage and on the radio for her forgiveness, all of these have been met with silence by Patton yet he continues to push her to forgive through public acts of shaming. These actions show a lack of respect for her as a person and the public nature of them alludes to Thicke's sense of entitlement. He can air their personal business for the world because he is the aggrieved party. He can pick apart their lives publicly because as a White man he is entitled to feel his feelings without fear or shame. Patton is not awarded the same leeway. 

And our society is complicit in this entitlement. Just today Robin Thicke went on Hot97 to talk about Paula and Paula (the album and this relationship are inextricably linked so expect it to come up for the next 6 months to a year while he promotes and tours with this music) and his "woe is me tale" was met with this reaction from The Source online: 
"Poor Robin do you think Paula should take him back?  It’s pretty evident that he is sincerely sorry. The two have known each other since high school."
What is our measure of "sincerely sorry"? Does his apology trump her feelings? Historically, yes. At the very least, we know that his need to "make something artistic out of a very difficult time" trumps her personal privacy.

So in his desperation to get his wife back, Thicke continues to make his career off of her. This time using their personal life as fodder for his watered down R&B music. If he can't have her physically, the remnants of their relationship will be the fuel for his next round of hits. And he will continue to reap the benefits of her body. As Thicke said in his video when it comes to Paula, "this is only the beginning."

*Note: At the time of writing this, Thicke had not yet released the second video of the album "Still, Madly, Crazy" which is equally disturbing.