Non-fiction Saturdays

theblackvote
Photo by Bruce Davidson via The Civil Rights Movement Archive

Mister Charlie Has No Blues

Flash Creative Non-Fiction

An Audio Piece for Sam McKenzie Jr.

There were some, only a few — they wanted you to believe your best interests were at heart. They cared. They gave you underpaying jobs and called it “honest work” while dipping into your pay. They raped your wives — “sowing wild oats” and pillaging where they could. If you are property, you mean nothing. You are nothing. A calf had more value — a farm over your life . . . You, to them, were subhuman or not human, depending on who was speaking. Your backs — the commonplace for burdens and griefs, yet shedding tears offered you nothing. If you were given what you were due, that did not go unnoticed. It was praised and worshipped.

It hung over you like the holy good deed.

But, let them tell it — they were good to you. You had it all. A shed out back big enough to draw a circle in the middle of the common room and walk around it twice. A rickety shot-gun home, drafty year-round. This was your life until you wanted to live — until you figured out this was not living. And when brains met action, you were dangerous. You figured out a ground was meant to be stood upon and stand your ground, you did. And this was trouble.

Trouble . . .

For “Mister Charlie” who has no blues but too many black folks causing him tension. If you wanted more, knew you could get it, and were meant to have it . . . If you figured out that equality meant “for all,” they had a problem. Your voice was your weapon. Your feet were your vehicle. Your strength was your saving grace. The power of a race built to be resilient does not diminish. When all you have is your heart to guide you, your hands to push you forward, your faith to bless you, and your family to believe in you, nothing else matters.

You stomped. You ranted. You raved. You conducted peaceful marches and picketed for justice. Back and side doors, balconies, separate water fountains, the backseats of buses and trains . . . Segregation — separating you from the “better” race for your own good — for their own good. And what good did that do? Remember, the voice is a weapon. You sounded off — refusing seconds, scraps, and the bits and pieces that did not add up to your whole. You took the front seat. You spoke up. You realized that you had rights and rights you fought to get.

Bless the black man who knew he was more than just a black man . . .

Bless the black woman who got tired of being silent. The voice is a weapon. Shots fired. Bullets had no name. Words dig in deeper. Movements sparked up in your favor. The right to vote. Integration. Front doors opened. Floor seats became yours too. Oh, look at that bus now with you sitting up front — ain’t it a sight for sore eyes?

The work you did, have done, no one takes for granted. You washed your hands with the blood of your sisters and brothers who were slaughtered before your eyes. Nightmares haunted you at noon instead of deep into the night. When you are believed to be ghosts, people treat you like one. But you were never invisible.

You were never invisible.

And that’s what scared them.


*Author’s Note: I am currently reading Blues for Mister Charlie, a play, by James Baldwin. To say that it is moving would be a gross understatement. This piece is my “Thank You” to Sam for his tireless efforts and the ultimate weapon that is his voice. He is such a powerful writer & advocate for equality and justice for African-Americans and People of Color.


Originally published on Medium. The link shared is a friend link as this is a piece behind Medium’s paywall.

Featured Writer for January

Anthony Cloe Huie

Anthony has been on Medium for as long as I can remember and I used to edit and publish his work in This Glorious Mess a few years back. Naturally, when I opened up A Cornered Gurl to all writers on Medium, I reached out to him as I wanted to be able to continue to work with him and have his work published in my publication. I knew Medium’s readers would benefit from his lyrical approach to poetry and his rhythmic and melodic refrains. He has a knack for writing about love, the heart, and maintaining relationships. I love what he brings to A Cornered Gurl. The poem that earned him this feature is “You’d Be My Do-Over.”


You’d Be My Do-Over

Daniel Adesina@exileartisan

 Although we said goodbye so very long ago
still the slightest whispering of your name
brings back every loving feeling, every
painful memory
Each and every thought of you
reminds me
what I lacked then in courage to love you
I still lack in courage now to forget you
You are my sweetest thought
my bitterest memory

And yet if life offered me one do-over
I’d be all over you
And if only in thought
a re-do could be true
I’d crawl on my hands and knees
to get to you

Life has not treated me unkind in any way
and truth be known, when I awake
each and every day
I am blessed, having no regrets
glad to know the world around me
has decided to stay

Still those thoughts infectiously
chip away at me
chasing away my rationality
Sometimes I am not the me I should be
the slightest of distraction has me
thinking this way
What is it about you
I just can’t say
But your memories just keep
getting in my way

And yet if life offered me one do-over
I’d be all over you
And if only in thought
a re-do could be true
I’d crawl on my hands and knees
to get to you

Today I chased away
my final memory of you
I know that is exactly
the thing I said yesterday I’d do
but today my glass is dry
the bottles are all closed
I am a different guy
I am on that life’s natural high
Not looking behind me
because I could not stand
to see you waving goodbye

So forgive me, please
if sometimes my feelings get in your way
And if at times you wished you too had
turned the other way
Nothing will ever change yesterday
to become today
And if distance will have to be
the saver way
that’s okay
cause
in my heart, you’ll always stay

And yet if life offered me one do-over
I’d be all over you
And if only in thought
a re-do could be true
I’d crawl on my hands and knees
to get to you


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.

Non-Fiction Saturdays

beneath

a haibun, 3 parts

Photo by Sébastien Conejo via Mixkit.co

The wonders of the world lay deep beneath her hair. The very essence of what there is to gain from a stressful day full of anguish and the sounds of beasts rapping at closed doors is nothing. I tell her to press forward and find her strength in the pulse of a tiger’s breath, but she is not interested in climbing up the optimistic ladder tonight. I smell safety around the corner. She runs for cover. I stand with my hands held high — raised above my head. I surrender to the depth of this defeat. She claims my trust.

beneath her red locks
is a star-spangled blue moon
a wondrous new world

Broken babies and haunted Mamas wield their way into our midst. We shield ourselves from their pressure. The room is ice. There is no fire for warmth. I rub my hands together and watch the steam sift in through the cracks. She takes two steps forward, purses her lips against the air, and lets out a sigh of relief. The floor is empty. Patients are packing up — discharged by their residents or attendings. We dance alone. A tango. A foxtrot. A waltz. I simmer in the darkness with her.

lonely in this place
of impatience and patients
dancing the foxtrot

Big Pharma called the shots on the drug saving his life — it’s no longer covered. He’s in room 213 of the ICU. Death is standing by his door. She pulls a mask on to her face, laces her hands with gloves, and walks in to oversee the cleanliness of his space. He is barely breathing. The sun skips on the open blinds — his hair never touches the pillow. There, in the silence of the room, she prays to a God who walks the halls but forgets to open the doors.

on-call patient care
fills up her nightly duties
death is still coming


Author’s Note: I wrote this piece as a reflection on the most recent book I read which was In Shock: My Journey from Death to Recovery and the Redemptive Power of Hope by Rana Adwish, MD. If you’ve not given it a read and you’re interested in knowing what a physician has to say about being the patient who dies, is brought back to life, and lives to see just how medicine needs transforming — this is a book I’d recommend for you. Peace.

*Originally published in The Junction via Medium.

Strutting In The Sun

Vol. 8: End of the Year Good Things

Kelis Photo by Michael Mora

Hello, lovelies! We made it through another year here on Medium and most of us still have so many stories to tell. To those of you still following us, still reading what we have to share and still enthralled by every click of each post, we appreciate you. Surely, we would not be who we are here at A Cornered Gurl if it were not for each of you. A heartfelt THANK YOU does not seem like enough, but it is what we are gifting as well as our words.

This year, in January, we launched the opening of ACG up to every writer on Medium and since then, milestones upon milestones have greeted us. Currently, we have 1,131 followers and we are comprised of 159 writers with 75 of them in an active status here on Medium. Our theme–our dedication within this publication is to give you writing that is brutally honest, vulnerable, and relative & relatable. We are writers who, “Break out of the Box” and this is shown with every piece published in A Cornered Gurl.

The last few months leading up to the end of this year gave us the last Young Minds of Medium challenge with a theme of “How Do You Sing The Blues?” We also introduced our youngest contributor, Niharika Gursahani who is currently flourishing here on Medium as well as maintaining her readership on WordPress.

Two pieces I’d like to shine a little light on as contributions to this challenge are:

Anto Rin, Women are from Venus

Braden Turner, Southern Fried Circuits

The last challenge for all writers was this month with the following theme: “How Do You Like Your Love?” We had nineteen entries and I was more than pleased with each submission. Everyone was not only creative in using three words or multiple sets of three words to share how they like their love, but I also felt a sense of togetherness monitoring this challenge. I want to highlight three of those entries:

Willow T. Lovelace, Endless Endearment

Subo, Love

Rachel B. Baxter, How Do You Like Your Love?

I want to take this moment to recognize some of our newest contributors as they have shared poignant work with us toward the end of this year and I am certain next year will welcome the same: Roxana Ștefan, Esther Spurrill-Jones, Christie Alex Costello, MBA, Stephen M. Tomic, Sarah E Sturgis, and Bella Linda.

In A Cornered Gurl, we are built on community. It is important for us to not only encourage one another but to help each other grow and we are doing that by exploring many of the facets of writing available to us. The goal I envisioned, as we neared the end of this year, was to be able to present one of the local homeless shelters here in my area of North Carolina with a check or an electronic payment that would not only go toward providing meals but also a place to sleep or rest for a few nights too for those desperately in need. We did that. The amount donated to Samaritan’s Ministries was $75.00.

Not only did we raise enough funds to contribute in the fight to rally against homelessness in this area, but we were also able to gift St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital $90.00. Their remarkable care, professionalism, and willingness to help children diagnosed with cancer for absolutely no cost to their parents, blows my mind.

I have friends and family members who still want to donate and will do so and have been informed that their funds have been and will be placed in the ACG account to go toward next year’s charity donations.

Here in ACG, small monetary rewards distributed throughout the year to twenty-four writers for meeting various milestones in or outside of the publication added up to $262.00. I am overjoyed that we have been able to meet most of our goals and exceed in others.

Next year’s challenges will be totally different from this year’s and they will force us to use our thinking abilities as creatives and truly break out of the box. Stay tuned.

To anyone who has given their time, money, efforts, and support to this publication, I am honored. I cannot thank you enough and words do not seem to be justifiable given the accolades placed upon us. I look forward to what 2020 has in store and I hope you do too.

And now, a little Kelis: Get Along With You

Peace and blessings and a very Happy New Year to you!


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.

 

Non-fiction Saturdays

In Focus: Photo by Tremaine L. Loadholt

You Are The Creator of Your Boundaries

Know What You Will and Won’t Accept From Others

If you want to know just how resilient you are, try living through hurt, harm, danger, or wrong-doing from a loved one. They can press buttons no one else can. What is even scarier is they can lord things over you many would not even attempt at doing. I would like to say that I am someone who would offer the benefit of the doubt — that I am more forgiving than I am not, but there is a breaking point and everyone has it. The older I get, the more I am being introduced to my limitations.

This is to say, I am more in tune with what I tolerate and to what extent. I am creating longer paths on my journey, therefore, I have to implement and reconstruct boundaries.

boundary

Something that indicates or fixes a limit or extent — Merriam-Webster dictionary.

If someone hurts me or disrespects me in a manner I can clearly spot, I make that known. I call them on it. I then create a space for me to be able to express why I am hurt and what led to that. No one knows if they have hurt you or not based on their words or actions. Sure, most of us can recognize pain when it occurs in someone else, but are we so quick to jump to the conclusion that we may have caused it? I highly doubt it. I say this because I am not always open to claiming the pain I have caused. I know I am not the only one.

Often people don’t intentionally cross our boundaries. As per Liz Morrison, “Since no one has the ability to read someone else’s mind, it cannot always be assumed that a person will know if they are triggering something in them . . .” But whether someone means to break a boundary or not, the result is the same. — Liz Morrison, LCSW & Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S

I believe the words boundary and respect go hand-in-hand. One is what we create to suggest a limit, the other is being mindful of that limitation or extension — or lack thereof. One definition of the word respect, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is “an act of giving particular attention,” in other words — consideration. If someone will not consider your feelings in a situation, knowing that tension has been created or some sense of pain, then it is most likely, this person does not respect you and will more than likely not respect any boundaries implemented either.

You and only you know when a line you have drawn has been crossed. You know what boundaries to establish and why. If you have ever come into contact with someone who can be selfish, rude, racist, or asinine, chances are, you already have boundaries in place. The question I would ask you is: “How often do those boundaries get tested?” To take it further, I will be nosy and query, “What do you do when they are tested?”


Photo by Mantas Hesthaven via Unsplash

If someone does cross that line and an actual break of the boundary has occurred, you must be aware. There are things you will need to do that may either pull you out of your comfort zone or cause you to evoke feelings of discontent in the person who crossed the line. How you prepare yourself in handling this is key to if your vocalizing the displeasure in their actions will be worth it in the end. From my experience, if approached effectively and the person has a modicum of common sense and compassion, you will survive addressing what needs to be addressed.

Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. along with information taken from her colleagues in her article When People Cross Your Boundaries, suggests five ways on what to do when someone crosses your boundaries:

Handle it internally. When someone crosses your boundary, one option is to handle it internally, said Morrison, who specializes in children and families in New York City. First, you might find the positive in the situation. Secondly, question the situation.

Restate your boundary. Another option is to confront the person. Maybe they misunderstood you initially. Maybe your boundary was vague or indirect.

State your boundary in a positive way. That is, state what you want, instead of what you don’t want.

Offer a way to move forward. Assert yourself, explain your feelings and offer a way to move forward.

Reconsider the relationship. If you’ve been clear about your boundaries, and the person still keeps crossing them, consider if you want to remain in a relationship with someone who disrespects your limits.

This task, approaching someone who has crossed a boundary, is not easy. I do not think it is meant to be. When feelings and emotions are involved, it is hardly ever easy, but expressing yourself when you know you have limitations or intolerance for certain things and they are not being respected is important.

If you are anything like me, the potential of losing a loved one or becoming distant with a family member based on the fact that they just will not and cannot respect your boundaries is heartbreaking. But, there will come a time you will ask yourself, “Do I always want to mend my heart back together or do I simply want to live without constantly picking up its pieces?”

You have to know what is best for you. We are human. There will be mistakes made. However, if established boundaries are in place and those with whom you come into contact are aware, I find it best to voice any discontent and displeasure regarding the crossed boundary and this should not go overlooked.

You are the creator of your boundaries. You will also need to be the upholder of them as well. Stand your ground. Know when your guard needs to be up and move forward wisely to address situations that require attention. I have found that doing this creates less friction in my life and offers me the opportunity to weed out those who truly do not respect me or my boundaries.

Keep your heart healthy — your mind and spirit too. Know what you will and won’t accept from others.


Originally published on Medium. The link shared is a friend link that allows anyone who clicks on it to read it for free as it is a piece behind Medium’s paywall.