Lyrical Journal, Vibe Journal, words

Notes From TwentySeventeen

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It’s 2017, and the Obama Years are over. The luxury many Americans felt in the previous administration vanished, and has now been replaced with crippling anxiety and despair. The gravity that once held this country together, has collapsed into a blackhole called Amerikkka.

Nationalism is spreading globally, sweeping a number of important national elections to the far right. Donald J. Trump is the President of the United States. The systemic powers that have ceaselessly worked against minorities and against progression, have traded their hoods for red Make America Great Again hats.

[Kodak Black portrays the current racial tensions surrounding the political climate.]

All the while in this very odd year, the woke culture gains momentum. People from all walks of life and all ages are getting involved in political matters, galvanized by the troubling times. Young public school students are speaking up about the Secretary of Education nominee, and citizens are engaging in online exchanges about what they believe the national budget should look like.

I turned 22-years-old at the beginning of these divided times. On my birthday, I mused on what it means to be young gifted and Black in 2017, and found three goals of utmost importance in this definition: understanding the intersectionality of all minority struggles, spreading Black Girl Magic, and fighting for the liberation of Black people.

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One way I know how to achieve these goals is by re-learning the history of my people, as told by Black historians and scholars. History books paint slavery as The Big Bang of Black people, and celebrate only a few heroes that fought for our cause. In reality, there were many names and organizations that paved the path for Black Liberation, such as the National League of Colored Women and other Black women’s club movement of the late 19th century.

In Angela Davis’ Women Race & Class, she gives depth to accomplished pioneers, such as Mary Church Terrell and Ida B. Wells, who faced the hurdle of Antebellum America to establish political capital for Black women. She also gives breath to the many female Communist agitators, such as Lucy Parsons and Ella Reeve “Mother” Bloor, who fought against racist and patriarchal ideals for an equal standing in society.

Another way I know to reach these goals, is by preserving the culture and uplifting stories/names that have been left in the dark. I recently attended a discussion held by the California African American Museum titled #BLACKGIRLSMATTER that focused on the 1991 murder of Latasha Harlins. I was moved to tears when Latasha’s aunt spoke of the family’s struggle for justice. The panelists, who included professors, organizers, and two members of Black Lives Matter, inquired on a number of the details that influence the fate of black girls in America. Lack of representation in the media, the devaluing of Black labor, and misunderstanding the fullness of humanity in any all contribute to black girls experiencing the double-edged sword of a racist patriarchal society.

I’m doing more and more to get involved in fighting the resistance against our conservative government. Much like the Tea Party, The Indivisible Project has directed me with ways to communicate with my local representatives and other local organizations that can bring about real influential change. Last year I placed a heavy amount of importance on making money and building my career, this year however, the risks are too high to be selfish and not take a stand against the injustices introduced by this Administration.

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2016 felt rotten from the inside out. This year, I hope our new collective outlook on our government persuades a real underlying change in the way we shape ourselves. I know that the odds are against me. I know how lucky I am to see another revolution around the sun.

-Tyler

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Vibe Journal, words

Hot Fun

End of the spring and here she comes back…

 

“Don’t stay lost for too long,” was the first piece of advice from my Grandma after my college graduation. She pursed her dark lips and poked her heavy Southern hands into my shoulder. Her eyes, deep and wide as the Delta,  burned the fear into my skull.

Well, it’s been a year since Grandma’s forewarning, and unless you have a full-time offer for a position in your field immediately after college, getting lost is inevitable. Instead of running off to Europe [like the literal lost she was referring to], I got lost in Los Angeles and made it my home again. I found a part-time job at a cupcake bakery, and searched for myself in books and television shows. The months breezed by like spring, and I relinquished much of my writing to scribbles in personal journals, and letting my creative inhibitions surmount my passion.

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Gen X hearthrob Ethan Hawke in “Reality Bites”

However, when the world turned for summer, a newfound confidence glittered on the horizon. I now find myself in awe of myself, my strengths, and the weaknesses I’m still overcoming. It’s been a slow and undulating process of landing in the murky banks of adulthood, and now that I am here, I finally feel at peace with the little personalities in my creative control room. Thus, beginning a new chapter of this blog.

Much of this transition has to do with locating myself on a spectrum of empowering art movements. My womanhood is currently experiencing a tectonic shift of perspective, as I read through Angela Davis’s incredible book on Blues Legacies and Black Feminism. Like many of the newly freed black women in the postslavery era whom the blues were addressed to, I’m finding my cultural identity in a shared female collective consciousness.

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Gertrude “Ma” Rainey

Davis uses the artistry, performances, and recordings of songs by Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday to show how black women elevated themselves to be proud, assertive, and independent, while protesting themes like male dominance and a racialized and gendered social structure. The way Davis articulates the authority of these oft overlooked women of the blues is so empowering it draws on the sweep of modern feminine movements. The blueswomen and jazz lady she highlights, are the Beyonces of the 1920s, 30s, and 40s (respectively).

Also, this is all coming to me at a time when black artists like Kanye West and Beyonce are shaping our generation’s consciousness. Instagram queens like Rihanna, Zendaya, sensitiveblackpersonAmandla Stenberg, and Beyonce encapsulate the black woman’s crusade to preside over modern media. With projects as famous as “Lemonade” or as focused as the Art Hoe Collective strengthening the demand to be heard and taken seriously, there is so much raw inspiration in the beauty of the black woman.

Say, I wished I had me a heaven of my own

Say, I wished I had me a heaven of my own

I’d give all those poor girls a long old happy home

(lyrics from Bessie Smith’s Work House Blues)

And the drag of summer heat gives way to these goddamn sunsets. Life in LA can seem like a series of traffic patterns and Curb Your Enthusiasm skits, and yet, the world spins madly on. The important thing is to soak in the sweet stuff every now and then, roll down the windows, and smell the magnolias.

Thank you for reading.

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Photo by Michael Kagan

–Tyler

 

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