Figuring Out Our Hidden History- By Toi the Poetic Beauty

I woke up mad

So mad that I actually didn't get much rest the night before

The fire from my anger caused an inferno to my sheets where 

I couldn't get a good night's sleep anymore

 

Inflamed from the reminder of the things that I didn't want to remember

Watching our history unfold in the movie Hidden Figures

When I saw the story of 3 black women and all they had to go through

On that Movie screen

I silently screamed

 

"It's not HISTORY!" 

I wanted to yell this to the top of my lungs

Although, the work of these triumphant women is indeed historic

The hatred they endured is far from done

 

My black coffee has sat on the same table as your white milk so long 

That we should finally be the same temperature.  

But here it is in 2017, I am still going through the same things 

That those 3 women endured

 

Yes, the movie had a beautiful ending

But I had to look my children in the eyes and say

That this is far from over and 

I probably won't live to see the day

 

That it will be so. 

Where my piece of American's pie will be considered part of the whole

 

But until then, it is rehearsed and understood

That I have to do twice as much just to be considered half as good.  

Black women are the most educated group of people in this country, 

so why are people so shock that I have a damn degree? 

 

If I am the "black" friend, then I am not your friend.  

When whites make me feel that way, I quickly get rid of them.  

Why are you looking at me like that?

No, I am not the exception to the rule of becoming educated while black. 

 

Check my DNA.  

And you will find that there is a long

List of "colored folks" that are built the same way 

Or better

So quit acting like I'm walking around with an N on my chest, 

Scarlett Letter

 

This is NOT HISTORY!  When blacks are still scared 

Of the people that were designed to serve and protect, 

But your history books neglect

 

To show that they were never designed to protect blacks, 

On the contrary, it was the opposite of that. 

A legal extension of the Ku Klux Klan, 

To reassure that the Jim Crow laws would continue to go on as planned.  

 

And just in the city that I live, 

A street named Florida divides us 

South Baton Rouge looking real nice

But in North Baton Rouge?  Look what they provide us

 

Hardly any new buildings or thriving businesses run about, 

In the North side as it does in the South.  

 

I have to drive 30 minutes if I decided to almost die 

To get to a hospital that is on the Southside.  

And the black family as a unit is a thing of movies and fairy tales 

Is what the newspaper details 

 

So of course me and my family are considered and oddity.  

But how did this become to be?  

Section 8 creates a broken home, 

Where a mother and her kids have to be alone. 

Kids yearning to have their daddy home

 

Yeah, I woke up mad this morning!  Because as an educator

I have to not only teach my children how things are

But also how they should be. 

Hoping I do my part to destroy history.  

 

But it is so hard when you have the President of the United States 

That only takes the time to see a black face 

Is if it can done so in front of cameras and lights

But refuses to give any of those black faces the mic.  

 

They are ashamed of the way they treat us

So they try to make the disconnect of our history bigger

And we assist in this hide and seek game

So we are also to blame, that history is NOT HISTORY, go figure

_________________________________________________________________________________

Toi the Poetic Beauty- whose real name is LaToya Jackson Sibley- was born in Alexandria, LA. She realized that she had a love for poetry at the early age of 9. Toi has written countless poems, plays, and even 3 unpublished books. She currently resides in Baton Rouge, LA with her husband of 16 years, Brent Sibley, Sr. and their 2 children, Brent Jr. and Trista, where she is an educator and also, has chartered the first Rhythm and Poetry Club at her Middle school. She hopes that her words will immortalize her and that they resonate throughout the world

Toi is featured this week on the Thin RedLine Project on Facebook, Instagram and the website.

The Complexities Of Being Young, Gifted And Black- By Jahi Mackey

If I am the next hashtag

Let the world know of my complexity

Let them know that no matter how hard

They try, they can’t make up their own

Narrative

I have no criminal history, I’m soft spoken

And if I were to be the next hashtag

It would be because my brain

Intimidated more than my body

Tell them that in third grade

I knew the names of all the countries in the world

And developed chronic low-self esteem

Thanks to colorism

In sixth grade

I carried a viola

At 5AM in the morning

To the bus stop

Because I wanted to play in the orchestra in my middle school

In ninth grade

My grandmother raced me from Mckinley High

To NOCCA for

Creative writing while I did

Geometry homework in the car

And in eleventh grade

I finished high school a year early

Having to teach myself both pre-calculus and Javascript

To graduate

Let them know that

I have a BA in International Studies at UNO

And a minor in French

I spent every Spring Break in New York

At the UN

And in order to avoid puzzled expressions

From my kinfolk

I simply told people I wanted to be a diplomat

Even though I had no idea what I wanted to do

And the ideas I had were too complicated

Let them know that

I started graduate school at 20 years old

And I am currently getting my Masters in

Intercultural Service Leadership and Management

At the School of International Training Graduate Institute

In Brattleboro, Vermont

But also

Let them know how painful it is

To have worked so hard

And sacrificed so much

Just for no one in this city to respect

What I have studied or the work that I have done

Simply because they don’t want to understand it

Let them know that I left home and returned

To feel more like a foreigner in my own city

Than anywhere else I have been

In the world

Let them know

That I am socially awkward

Which means that I have a very

Difficult time making friends

And I often times go through multiple drafts of a text message

Just to avoid saying the wrong thing

Most importantly

Let them I am no one’s white savior experiment

I need no one to tell my story or help me

Tell my story because

I can do it myself

Nor am I a conservative’s counter argument

To try and prove systematic racism does not exist

Because my life cannot be seen through simplistic eyes

And being Black meant being taught that the world is our oyster

And a battlefield

And if we wanted to avoid having our dreams deferred

We needed to express mail

Them before anyone could

Tell us otherwise

If I am the next hashtag

Tell my whole story

And not just the parts you think are convenient

Don’t let me end up like all the other

Black and brown men and women

Who had their lives erased

And their humanity stripped from them

Once they became a hashtag

Reduced to just a tragic encounter

In which their frustration and fear

Was fatal

All lives will matter when

Black lives matter and

We have the right to be

Human

Which means

Being complex

1,000 piece puzzles

That once assembled

May open your mind

And show you a new view

Until that day may come

Memorize my story

Do not wait until I am a victim of

State violence

Lifeless on the ground

Video footage across the internet

With no warning that what you may see

Could be offensive to children

To understand me

If I intimidate you

Revisit your shortcomings

If I amaze you

There are many who are more brilliant than I

But just know

That every day that a person of color

Exists in this world

We exist to survive

We get used to being misunderstood

Lost in translation

Only valued when we fit other people’s boxes

Hoping for the day

We will live to be

Appreciated and

Understood

_________________________________________________________________________________

Jahi Mackey is a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He grew up in North Baton Rouge and graduated from McKinley Senior High School. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from the University of New Orleans and is currently pursuing a Masters of Arts in Intercultural Service Leadership and Management at the School of International Training Graduate Institute, located in Vermont.

Jahi is currently the Program Director and founder of The 821 Project, an organization that promotes global citizenship in the south Louisiana community through social justice and intercultural education programming. He seeks to promote multiculturalism and expand community education on multicultural issues in his own community. 

At the Intersection- by Kortni Blackmon

Today, I don’t plan to share an experience of racism with you.

Instead, I’m going to attempt sharing something more:

My existence. Rather, the experience of racism as an existence.

You see, …I reside at the intersection of black and woman…

And, here, we have set up camp.

Here, we care for one another. Here, we heal one another… with oil and herbs, lemonade and such things.

Right here… we praise Gxd because we know that She placed the sun in the sky with the ~i n t e n t i o n~ of creating us. And we know that She looks favorably upon us and is especially proud of this womanly brigade.

And we are here for it, baby… yes. we. are.

Here, we have birthed a pack of lone warriors fighting a war comprised of many battles that you. don’t. even. see …here.

Here, we dip our hands in history and wear it as warpaint.

Here, our grandmothers whisper into mamma’s ear and she then braids those whispers into our hair.

Here, we pour libations from the drinking well

And our ancestors gather the children and instruct them on enemy encounters:

Stand squarely, shake its hand firmly and look it dead in the eye.

Stand squarely, shake its hand firmly and look it dead in the eye.

Stand squarely...

Square up.

Here, we teach our children that THEY HAVE ENEMIES.

There are whole nations, systems and ideologies at WAR with your magic.

Here, we set up registries where we enlist our daughters… and our sons, until the moment that they forget the women that dwell within them…

Here, their heads are counted and crowned for war.

Here, we teach them to p i m p the s y s t e m. Here, I teach them to infultrate. Here, I teach them to TEAR. IT. DOWN.

Here, we learn, we laugh, we sing.

Here, we cry. Here, we scream.

Here, we preach, we intellectualize,

and —we twerk.

Here, we are all of who we were born to become. Here, we are ourselves fully.

Here, we may go unseen, but we will not go unheard.

Here, my tribe can feel you. — Here, your violence does not go unchecked.

I said...

Here, I*will*check*you, boo.

Here, at the intersection, I don’t have an experience of how racism has impacted me… I have an entire existence of one. What I open my eyes to each morning, what rocks me to sleep at night. The way I eat, work, laugh and play, … the way I love… c a r e f u l l y… the way I raise my children, the way momma raised me, the way I look after my brothers… calling them in midnight hours prompted either by the news or by my weary spirit. The words I speak and the places I cannot go.

Racism isn’t an anecdote; it is a life lived on the defense. It is children birthed on the offense.

It is Combat.

Welcome.

_____________________________________________________________________________

 Kortni Blackmon works for the Live Free Campaign, which is a countrywide movement of the PICO National Network (People Improving Communities Through Organizing) of faith-based organizations and congregations. This campaign is committed to dismantling the mass-criminalization of people of color and building electoral and economic power for the people.

Kortni was raised in Saint Louis, Missouri (more specifically, the Ferguson/Florissant area). She also attended Loyola University of New Orleans— experiencing the devastation of Hurricane Katrina during her first semester in the fall of 2005. Among many other things, she is also a survivor of domestic and sexual violence. Having lived in locales directly impacted by the fatal violence of police injustice, where the struggle to rebuild in times of disaster and hardship is visibly disproportionate in particular communities of color, and where she was called upon to mentor young women through their own personal experiences of abuse, Kortni was moved to begin a hotline dedicated to addressing the trauma of being black in America. Through this invaluable resource, black people of all backgrounds, ages, faiths, genders and sexualities come together to build one-another up and support each other mentally and spiritually through love and open dialogue.

Major thanks to Kortni for her extremely important work and for sharing this incredibly powerful piece!