on Claudia Rankine’s Citizen (an extended poem)

no exaggeration to state that my body quakes
my eyes the amateur boxer
versus
experienced tears the reigning champion
the internal awakening is incomparable

the way I feel when I read my people

truth sucked from my soul onto the page
size 14 black font
white paper
Arial?

Rankine’s, Baldwin’s, Jordan’s words
yet the truth is mine

the avid reader I am
since childhood:
leaping from cliffhangers
hiding from the shadows
burying in the pages of fantasy

but only these Black voices evoke
quakes
gentle caresses validating previous thoughts
unearthing my Blackness under the weight of hooded spectres
tectonic plates of Black theory colliding creating new matter

page 14: I stop to write
this brink
this precipice
feeling like a citizen

page 17: forced to pick up my phone at 2:53pm
my black pen testifies to
“newly found uncles and brothers”
and Eve Ewing, Chicago summer 2015 speaks through
the brother who walked past
chimed in later with an are-you-alright to the group
the group who went out to meet the woman
the woman who the group hadn’t met in person
Mellon Mays and @ signs tying a string around our color
the woman who live tweeted
the campus police
the city police
the campus police and the city police
inhabiting four large sports utility vehicles
apprehending three young men
three young Black men pulled over for biking
while Black

one supposedly stole a phone
Eve questioned
can police question
can police hold kids without their parents
‘Curfew’
the group
the group who went out to meet the woman
containing only male: me
the group of many sisters
one brother to protect these young brothers
to meet up with this sister
yet it was too late
police took the kids
their bikes
‘away’
vehicles remained

afraid of the fate of Sandra Bland
the woman cried in her car
helpless in the face of hapless cops
the young woman
a hero stood yet
in the face of the slave patrol
a single Black woman is never safe

page 18: tears
when the new therapist yells at the author like a dog
“When he door finally opens, the woman standing there yells, at the top of her lungs,
Get away from my house!
What are you doing in my yard?”
“I am sorry. I am so sorry, so, so sorry.”
I have no patience for whiteness.

page 25: “what does a victorious or defeated black woman’s body in a historically white space look like?”
all I can think is: where in the U.S. do those spaces exist.
the Black church the result of, the mark of, settler colonialism
the Black _______ tainted by ________
the Black hair salon may be one of the only spaces
unless one wants to venture into
domestic work
the Black launderer
the Jezebel
what is a historically black space?
where is a historically black space?
why does she not capitalize the b?

this poem becomes a note to self: look up Patricia Willians’ Alchemy of Race and Rights, as cited on page 34

page 36: ignored as I view

page 37: a white blonde woman tennis player whose name is irrelevant
stuffed bra
stuffed ass
skirt with the adidas logo embossed
underneath the logo in the designer’s name:
stella mccartney
all lowercase letters
elbow pointy
hair frizzy
glossed nails pointing
cupping
her fake ass
yet not making contact
don’t forget
teeth-baring smile
she knows what she is doing.

I must ask myself:
how do white people move through life in such an ahistorical manner?
I tweet about this I move back to

page 36: disassociation
Beyoncé as Sasha Fierce to perform
the claim that Serena Williams “has had to split herself off from herself and create different personae.”
survival strategies

Page 41: section III reminds me that I fly through this book because it is my truth
“What did you say? You ask, though you have heard every word.”
as familiar to me as my first name
as if I am reading theatre directions that embodies the director’s intents
the author’s intent
down to the syllable.

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Confessions of an emergency room clerk

“My advice? Don’t drink four pints of vodka before lunch,” the nurse said with a straight face.

He took his eyes off the work on his screen, starting to crack up at this seemingly random piece of advice. It had been quiet, and each of them kept to themselves for the most part. He was using the downtime to work on his homework. She was enjoying the break from the usual rush of patients, most likely by searching the web.

She continued on, explaining her reasoning for the unsolicited tip. She added with a smile, “I should be able to do better, but that’s it.” They talked, entering each other’s worlds. It was nice, for both of them. Trends occur all the time, if you keep an eye out for them. One day there are multiple patients who happen to drink four pints of vodka…before lunchtime. One day there are many patients of Salvadoran descent. And some days the patients are just pleasant. The conversation was quickly dropped when a patient arrived at his station, ready for check-in. He finished her registration and the patient went to the next window. The nurse checked her vitals. Her name was called shortly and off she went to be seen. During this process he returned to his work, as did she to hers. Eventually it was silent again, comfortably silent.

Paying it forward

Walking? Singing? Running? Blogging. I love Anthony James Williams. You may not know him, but you will.  He’s another star on the rise, an amazing artist, a beautiful human being, a smokin’-hot black male, and among other things, my best friend. Hello all. I hope you are all having a wonderful closing of the first week of march.  I couldn’t ask for a better one myself.  It was a stressful week, but it paid off.  I worked hard on the two audition … Read More

via mynytimes

See, this?

This is why I love Sofia. Not because of her praise, but because she inspires me to be better. Not only is she in NY pursuing her dreams, she is aware of where she is, where she wants to go, and who she wants to be. This makes me proud that I am her friend, and grateful to have her in my life. In my short time here on Earth, I’ve learned that a huge part of success is support. That goes for any field and any venture. A circle of supportive, positive, and honest energy is something I try to keep in my life. I don’t always succeed, of course, but I try. Sofia is definitely a pillar of support for me, along with Zack, my family, and a few other friends. She makes sure I don’t lose sight of who I am, pushing me to do things, calling me on my bullshit. Sofia starting a blog directly inspired me to start my own, to explore my voice as a writer. Sofia writing a play has encouraged me to just go for it one day, and not to judge myself before I even start. We’ve had a relationship that is unique in that I create and she builds upon it. And it goes both ways. She creates, I critique and add. We always compliment each other and turn what one said or did into something better and more specific. But enough praise, I bet I’m making Sofia blush. For those of you who do not know Sofia, you will soon enough, believe me.

As a side note, I started reading (non-textbooks) again lately. I used to enjoy reading so much as a kid, but it fell on my list of priorities. As I got older, I suddenly “didn’t have the time.” When, in reality, there is plenty of time. I realize when I am reading a book that I miss it so much. It seems like I read about one or two books a year, which is pathetic. Right now I’m reading a book that my current English professor wrote almost 11 years ago, “Please Please Please,” by Renee Swindle.  I’m about 60 pages in, and this novel is definitely not what I expected, but I love it. The language is wonderful, and although its gears aim more towards a female audience, I like it. It’s an African-American drama of race, relationships, romance, and infidelity. The biggest thing I’m taking from it so far is the realization that I rarely read works about and/or by black people. Or even female writers! Sure, I have read a few, but the majority have been by authored/about white men. And the ones that were not by white men I read in school, which means I need to seek more diverse literature outside of the classroom.  Just a little observation brought about by the fact that race is a hot topic in this novel.

But back to the book; when I fall in love with a book I have a habit of plowing through it because I just can’t stop reading. I want to further the story, find out what happens next. I’ve taken it slow, though, to avoid that sinking feeling that is left inside me when I realize that this book I was thoroughly enjoying has ended.  The last time I read a book for pleasure like this was when I was working in San Francisco and was taking BART all the time. It was Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk. But writing things down makes me accountable, and once I finish this book, I’ll start another. Reading can reduce stress, inspire me, and serve as an escape. So another goal of mine in life? Read more, especially ethnic and female authors. I need to explore more works from Zora Neale Hurston, Maya Angelou, Junot Diaz, Sherman Alexie, Brent Staples, Richard Rodriguez, and a bunch of others too.

Expand your mind, Craig.