Poetry and personal blog – Spilling my guts to strangers

Posts tagged ‘Race’

Post-Racialism in a World of Niggers and Crackers

I continue to be intrigued by this idea of post racialism and am still trying to figure out exactly what that looks like. Some people are afraid, and rightly so, that post-racialism means that we all will start to look and talk the same and that our identities will dissolve into a common, post-racial culture. Indeed, there are some who would rather not acknowledge people’s differences because it makes them feel uncomfortable.

For instance, (more…)

Am I a Black Poet?

As I reflect on Martin Luther King, Jr’s’ birthday today, I think about the notion of a postracial America, which I believe is the same thing Dr. King talked about in his “I have a dream” speech–a world where race doesn’t matter as much as individualism does. Unfortunately, racism is still alive and well. But despite that fact, the world is still evolving.

What I mean is, black people used to be thought of as a group, not as individuals, lumped together due to the circumstance of slavery. Once slavery was abolished and we were able to move about freely, we still maintained a close-knit group identity even amongst ourselves, generally speaking, as we were still bound by hardships.

Over time, through the struggles of Dr. King and countless others, known and unknown, we became more diverse through education, travel, and the like. We began to pursue our individual dreams. Eventually, the once unthinkable happened with the election of a black president, voted in now for an astonishing second term.

3c7786aa5cf6d12e4584b65d0e2bdc77When I was a kid, to my mind, black poets (more…)

The Language of Childhood

The writing style which is most natural for you is bound to echo the speech you heard when a child. – Kurt Vonnegut

What speech patterns did you grow up with as a child?

My mother’s family migrated from North Carolina when she was young, and from then until the time I met her, she had eliminated everything from her speech that would betray her roots.

Not so my grandmother.

My grandparents were born in the 1890s. Just to put that in context, the Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1863. My grandfather’s father was nicknamed Pen but his full name was Independence–so named, I think, to celebrate his birth outside of the institution of slavery.

My grandmother was a fairly typical of black women of her day. She had raised her brothers and sisters when their parents died youngish. She herself was a young widow who eventually married again, to my grandfather. She was not overly educated, at least not formally, but she was wise in the ways of life, witty, and quick on her feet.  When my own parents separated when I was 7, (more…)

Freedom Ringing

The day Martin Luther King was assassinated was the first time I had ever heard his name.

On April 4, 1968, I was just shy of eight years old, and it was another in a series of confusing events that occurred during the past year: the riots in Newark, my parents’ separation, moving, changing schools. It was a violent year.

If I remember correctly, the announcement was broadcast during the evening news. We lived in a large house with my grandparents, my aunt and uncle, and cousins ranging in age from newborn to late teens. Pandemonium broke out (more…)

Bein Colored

This past weekend, I went to see the movie, “For Colored Girls,” based on the 1975 play for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf written by poet Ntozake Shange. The play is 20-part poem that chronicles the lives of Black women; it was published in book form in 1977.

Here are a few opinions without plot spoilers: On an emotional level, I enjoyed the movie. The audience I saw it with was full of colored girls like me, crying in spots and generally empathizing with what was happening on the screen.

The poetry is divine and was woven seamlessly into the dialogue. However, this may have been a drawback because (more…)

Hometown Glory: The 2010 Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival

The magnitude of having attended the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival in my hometown of Newark at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) this past weekend is almost too overwhelming to talk about. It’s not a very Newark thing to say but I can’t believe that I shared the same air space with 50 or so major poets.

My daughter and I attended sessions on Saturday and at some points there were as many as 10 events going on at the same time. Choosing from among them was brutal and in many cases we had to take solace in the fact that we had watched the internet simulcast of the opening night (Thursday) readings by 24 of the poets, including Billy Collins, Kay Ryan, and Sharon Olds.

We went to a session on craft conducted by Rita Dove, Pulitzer Prize winner and two-time US Poet Laureate. She talked about (more…)

Post-Racial America

When I was creating my “About” page for this blog, I had to really think about whether to mention my age (I’m 49) and my race. My ultimate conclusion is that the most important thing about me is that I am human and of the female sex. Species and sex say the most about how a being functions in life.

But so many in the US take one look at me and form a preliminary opinion because I am African American, and because I am African American, I tend to see things from a particular perspective. These attitudes are not inherent to mankind but rather are manmade. (more…)

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