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Don’t Write It If You Don’t Mean It: Black. & Green.

Don’t Write It If You Don’t mean It:

Black. & Green.

L. Valentine

Cover 3

Copyright © 2018 L. Valentine

All rights reserved.

~~~

To Little Lo,

becoming all she can.

~~~

~~~

PART ONE

BLACK.

~~~

The Black Woman F&R

The black Woman is subject to being made invisible.

To being made a spectacle.

To receiving no warning.

To over perming, over working and under earning.

To being through.

To being sick and tired of being sick and tired.

To singing the blues.

To not being quite enough.

To giving too much.

To, on one hand, being labeled a diamond in the rough while,

on the other,

being forced into being a piece of coal because being “pretty” ain’t for us.

To being told she’s too much.

To not being tough enough.

To being told she isn’t de la creme enough.

To carrying on in spite of such.

~~~

Harriet Tubman F&R

Harriet Tubman smells like Frankincense and Myrrh

I know because I’ve laid at her feet

kissed her cheek

in my dreams.

~~~

The Seed F&R

I am the seed of those who made it,

but I borrow some of my soul from those

who chose

to go overboard.

Spirit that chases generations to come back around

Because energy can’t be destroyed;

Damned sure can’t drown.

~~~

I Can Hear Africa F&R

I can hear

Afrika.

Ancient.

Present.

Calling me,

begging me,

to remember.

~~~

I'm Not Allowed F&R

I am not allowed to show that I am a sentient being too,

because somehow it makes me weaker than you if I do.

You

have already been persuaded

to hate me.

But the bait you took

came off the same hook.

They took your people too.

Never having brought them back.

Our various colored skins were all sold off of the same white rack.

~~~

Ancestors falling out F&R

I have elders falling out of my seams.

This is what being full of hope

and high esteems

really means.

~~~

I Do This F&R

I do this for my Ancestors

and Predecessors

that were Lovers

and Writers

and misTOOK

for Slaves.

~~~

PART TWO

GREEN.

~~~

For Those of Us F&R

For those of us

working to be more light-filled than

hand-held.

It’s a full-time job deciphering this life

from what’s real.

I’m constantly reminding myself not to take

the blue pill.

Setting reminders on my phone to stay

grounded and to take time to be still.

To meditate.

For my Heaven’s sake.

Being aware vs being awake.

Asking ethereal beings for guidance on the

next step to take.

At our fingertips, things the ancestors

couldn’t do.

So it’s only right that we ask for their light

to shine through.

Take our talents seriously,

knowing that they

are the Universe’s gifts to we.

Figuring it out as you go gets easy—

once you remember who sent you.

Who sent you?

Who’s in you?

Who am I,

starting with releasing who I am not.

This existence can put you under a lot.

Make it hard to see

or to be free with

all the varying degrees

of reality

on top.

You gotta take time to sort through

your own mess

and karmic debt.

Big part of incarnating lies in just resolving that.

I been

shedding false self like dead skin

like I don’t wanna have no skin left.

Trying to get to a level of consciousness

so clear that it’s see through.

Though the strivings may be stressful

Passion is always simple.

Compassion is elemental.

No matter what they tell you,

watch how far love will get you…

Follow your intuition because your soul knows more than your mental.

Balancing your feminine and masculine is essential.

You need me and I need you–

Don’t try to do it alone because none of us were meant to.

~~~

I'm tired (4)

I am tired of scrolling.

I am tired of searching.

I am tired of profiling.

I am tired of following.

Tired of the tags.

Tired of the mis-texts.

Tired of the subs.

Tired of the typos.

I am tired of status.

I am tired of location.

I am tired of broken links.

I am tired o—

Tired of t—

Tired of th—

Tired of click here for a free—

Tired of the scams.

I am tired of glare.

I am tired of counting time.

I am tired of quoting.

I am tired of filtering.

Postingrequestinginvitingerasingoverridingblockingcrashinglosingfiles

Filtersfakesmilescyberthugsvirusesglitchesposers

~~~

Woman. F&R

Woman.

-A Complete Sentence

~~~

The Universe F&R

The Universe is in a constant state of flux.

Change.

Growth.

Motion.

Now can you see what we are?

~~~

Hold A Shell F&R

Hold a shell to your ear.

What do you hear?

Some say it is The Ocean

and others believe it is The Blood in your veins.

I implore you: Is there a difference?

Do each not pulse with a rhythm,

while carrying and sustaining life?

Are both not capable of raising up and crying out to the moon?

~~~

Haiku F&R

Dragonflies Dashing

Koi are kissing their own kind

Sun on soul and skin.

~~~

When Writing F&R

When writing

you can pull words out of the wood paneling

and sentences from the spackled plaster ceiling

you were staring at.

Were they always there?

~~~

~~~

AFTERWARDS… (AFTERWORD)

~~~

So.

I came to a solid first draft and deleted the file by accident. This was a labor of love. I truly hope something in these e-pages resonated with you. Thank you for journeying with me.

I wish to give my images more substance and I want my words to be visualized. This is an attempt at such. The poems were written between February 2016 and May 2018. The pictures were taken in Brooklyn August 2018. Upon having the thought to combine the two, the sense of purpose I felt drove me to completion. I look forward to getting a better camera.

‘Don’t Write It If You Don’t Mean It’ will continue with “Red. & Nude.”, a collection of poems AND personal essays, this Winter. This is all in effort to make room in my heart and mind for new material. I made clear my intention to write and feel that I must literally release the old to welcome the new. I lost quite a few of my writing books in storage a few weeks ago, so this will be easier than previously thought. Silver linings.

Connect with me online and let’s catch up in the real world. I have created a Writer’s Guild and look forward to adding Writers of Color to that safe space. I look forward to hearing from you.

Warmly,

L. Valentine (Lauren A. Jones)

Facebook.com/lauren.a.jones509

IG: @_What.ever.Lola.Wants_

~~~

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Women in India go shoulder-to-shoulder for 385-miles protesting gender inequality.

In the southern Indian state of Kerala, millions of women gathered to form a 385-mile “human chain”.

At the center of it all is a Court ruling from November 2018 that dictates women of reproductive age be permitted to worship at the Sabarimala Shrine, in Kerala. Traditionally, women ages 10 – 50 are prohibited from worship at this particular temple as per restrictions of its deity, ‘Lord Ayappa’. After the ruling, right-wing supporters gathered at the temple to prevent the newly legalized women from entering. Left-wing government coalitions organized the ‘human chain’ response protest to run along the major highway, estimating 3 million supporters. Over 5 million showed up.

The current government, right-wing Hindu Nationalist BJP party, has stated that the movement towards reforming temple procedures is an attack on Hindu values. Precisely, if those values perpetuate biases of any kind. It is bigger than religion and such needs to be acknowledged.

If you are willing to consider a perspective outside of willful ignorance, it quite apparent that religion can be packed with oppression, patriarchy, and misogyny.

Realistically, all religions were “created”, whether through divine intervention or a response to socio-cultural conditions. The institutions of religion do not precede human existence; in every instance, religion itself is a man-made construct. With that said, even through divine inspiration, would it not take a prophet with misogynistic tendencies to bring into existence god(s) and laws that treat women as lesser beings? Contemplating this from the viewpoint of India’s past and present struggles with gender equality, the truth becomes self evident.

Regardless of the intrinsic nature of religion and the general resistance to doing so, all practices that do not echo equality must be addressed in order for any true progress to occur. Any excuse to restrict the existence of and/or discriminate against another human being needs to be done away with.

These women are no longer willing to allow their existence to be dictated by gender inequality in any way. 5 million women say enough is enough.

Read the BBC article here.

#JazmineBarnes

It is the most asinine thing for Sherriff Gonzalez to state that it is somehow irresponsible to automatically consider the incident racially motivated…

THIS. IS. AMERICA.

Both historically and contextually, it is the only plausible motive that makes sense. Immediately so. Simply because he didn’t shout “NIGGERS” at the top of his lungs as he unloaded his weapon into a car full of black bodies, there is room for plausible deniability? GTFOH.

Gonzalez is trying to keep the skin on his ass, however, his cower and lack of cultural competence is showing. In assuming that he is Hispanic, he should KNOW that considering anything ELSE is truly irresponsible. Or are they just arresting, detaining, and deporting thousands of Mexicans due to random selection??!!

This poor baby. Her. Family.
I’m tired of this shit.

https://www.npr.org/2019/01/04/682106384/police-release-sketch-of-man-wanted-in-slaying-of-child-in-texas

‘No Spectators’: ‘Burning Man’ festival comes to D.C.

This was the first year that I seriously considered attending Burning Man. Although circumstances dictated otherwise, in the way of the Universe, I stumbled upon the ‘No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man‘ exhibit at the Renwick Gallery here in DC. Admittedly, although I have been interested in attending the festival for years, I knew very little about the actual execution of Burning Man. I had read thoroughly the principles along with everything else on the website, but I wanted the experiential part to ride on the element of surprise. Although smaller in size, I experienced that very surprise walking into the gallery for the first time. My 26 years of life have garnered very few experiences that would have prepared me for what I was set to encounter.

Being a great fan of ‘Alice in Wonderland’, I felt similarly inducted into a world of fantasy and infinite potential. There were even magic mushrooms and kaleidoscopes dreams with no drugs involved. Such is the art of using sound and light to behoove the senses and reshape reality. Perhaps even just allowing a an alternate reality to shape itself. As I moved from one part of the exhibit to another, a new world materialized before my eyes. Testimony to the depth and breadth of the human mind and spirit, gargantuan handmade 3D installments and the larger-than-life principles greeted me at the entrance. Alternating fullness of silence and echoes of ethereal music guided me from one room to another. It was Fantasy; not in the way of simple make believe, but in reopening one’s existence to the realm of possibility. In demanding the most imaginative and authentic self in order to experience it in its fullest. Mr. Rogers would be proud. Life on ‘The Playa’, the desert location that hosts the festival, is not solely about existing within a Utopian society. In many ways The Playa seeks to rebuild a sense of what living should consist of along with a willingness to not only reject limited notions but to contribute individual goodness to the experience of the whole of society. Simply put: Accountability. Founded on principles like ‘Radical Self-Reliance’ and ‘Decommodification’, Burning Man creates its Utopian society not for escapism alone, but for a kind of meditative incubation that seeks to foster lasting solutions. Which seems kind of ironic in regards to the fact that the festival only lasts a few days, with another one of it’s principles being ‘Leave No Trace’. I found, and I would assume that all who have attended have done so also, that this doesn’t apply to the mark that the experience leaves on your heart. A thriving metropolis one day and a heap of smoldering rubbish the next, Burning Man is revolutionary in it’s elusive permanence. Countercultural by nature, Burning Man has created an Ethos that could quite possibly stand alone.

In one of the very first descriptive plaques it read “[Burning Man] radiates a heavy idealism and questioning of the status quo; it is a remedy for cynical times.” In the way of the dual consciousness that Black people often possess, as W.E.B. DuBois mentioned in ‘Souls of Black Folk’, I was able to experience the exhibition twice at once. I’ll admit that, in my foremost reality, I was entirely amazed at what privileged people with disposable income and resources are able to do with said income and resources. Burning man is a world in which all attendees get to escape the society that only a portion of those attendees and their forefathers have collectively created. Even in fully embracing the principle of ‘Radical Inclusion’, I have thoughts that stand separate from the immersive experience. Keeping in mind the fact that there are Blacks and other POC who have yet to determine existence for themselves in this country, I am interested in what manner and in what capacity would we create a like or parallel space? What would a “black burning man” look like and how would it differ from the original? Could we accomplish making a utopian society to serve firstly as a safe space for POC as such? What would come into existence if we took up not just the underlying theme of determining reality but the right to do so autonomously and imaginatively? Not to mention the tremendous sense of responsibility and intention that doing so would then engender. I am looking to join with like minds in order to explore said possibility. Somebody call the head of Afro-Futurism and tell them to send us the Dirtiest Comouters they’ve got. All Hail Queen Janelle.

Burning Man was entirely too complex to contain within this short analysis. In getting to see the likes of what man of kind can create, the sharp reopening of both my imagination and logical mind to possibility almost consumed me. I am sure actually attending Burning Man will be such a journey; so much so that the version of me that attends won’t be the version of me that returns. In fact, just immersing myself at the gallery has had a profound effect on my interpretation and interaction with reality. In tandem, I understand the necessity of repeating such a ritual yearly, if for no reason other than to continually renew one’s faith in the future of mankind and to stoke one’s own creative fires. Daily, I remind myself that there are NO SPECTATORS in life, and that we should all be actively living and building. In turn I ask, how will you participate?

CLOSING NOTES:
An overview of the exhibit can be found here.

I spent a great deal of time meditating and simply existing in the ‘Temple’ portion of the exhibit. I chose not to write about it because there are no words to do the experience justice. Although that particular portion of art was retired mid-September, here is video from the museum itself that gives you a glimpse of the greatness that was.

No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man‘ exhibition will be open at the Renwick Gallery until January 21, 2019.

D.C. Lovin’

I came to D.C. earlier in the spring and fell in love with it. As a Writer, I live with the greatest excitement in being able to share my experiences. So for the three months total that I have spent here, I have been taking pictures and notes in order to paint D.C. as I see it when I see it. I invite you along as I grow to know and learn the bigger picture, with more entries as I continue to do so.

So. DC is confusing at first. You can’t be sure what direction is due north because all of the street signs have 2 components ie NE/NW vs SE/SW. Your google maps might tell you it will take 45 mins to drive 3 miles. (Believe it.) However, once you get past the fact that none of the roads are straight and neither are the metro lines, there lies a beautiful city. Almost surrounded by water (which’ll make you wonder ‘how is this not considered an island?’), D.C. is a wondrous mixture of soil and concrete. With such a unique balance of business and nature, people that live here seem to indulge in both. From the Marines casually walking in a cluster down a block in capitol hill to a group of street dancers occupying a corner late night on U street, everything goes. DC is the city that everyone needs to be talking about.

D.C. has a big city feel and appeal while remaining so walk-able. One neighborhood rolls right into the next and at any point you can stop for any thing your heart may desire, including some soul food and a good conversation or two. It honestly feels as though everyone in D.C. is there by choice and is happy to share it. Houses made of rainbow mounted on brick red streets are in as full of a character as a made-up face. Entire streets seem to be competing for a spot on second line. Those who’s paint has been allowed to fade, seemingly for the sake of authenticity, bleed for times once known. Alley ways are a way of life in D.C. and I’m all for it. Being from NYC, I’m used to alleys being the stuff of nightmares and where the wild things hide. In D.C., alley ways belong to more art work, stores, galleries, restaurant entries, driveways, kids with footballs and plenty foot traffic. Don’t get me wrong, there are dumpsters and a few off smells as well, just not accompanied by the sheer terror of most big city dark corners. Not to mention the nature and greenery that abounds and surrounds D.C. The parks here take up so much space that it’s a wonder how there’s room for everything else. Rock Creek Park and Malcolm X Park sprawl in different parts in the North of the city. Rock Creek Park boasts rolling hills and Malcolm X is home to on of the grandest overlooks of the city. Along with Anacostia Park and National Mall in SE, as well as innumerable local parks and trails, there is so much green space in D.C. that there is no excuse for you not to cultivate an outdoor habit.

Most obviously: HU. Howard University campus sprawls and takes up a glorious chunk of the landmark Shaw neighborhood. The Historically Black University’s campus holds onto a significant piece of D.C. soul, making for a nice mix of scholastic aptitude, African oils and independently owned tea shops (Calabash though? Review to come). You are sure to run into Howard Professors and Students throughout the city. Although there are other big name universities in the district, I haven’t seen them get anywhere close to the amount of Washingtonian love that Howard gets. That’s Chocolate City for you. HU!

Giving you even more of a reason to love being out and about, the Street Art is stuff of legend. Murals span entire sides of schools and businesses. Vivid colors, geometric abstraction and fantasy flash flood your eyes without warning as you drive through the streets. Their aftertaste is more than enough to pull you back onto the street on foot and you’re in for a real treat. Follow the crumbs to find morsels of remnants of a once Chocolate City. The Musicians that play on the corners serenade, not for the money, but for the nostalgia ultra that floats through the air searching for a vessel and an open ear. Searching for someone who remembers. Whether you consider its history or not, your soul is subject to the depth of this time-capsule of a place. Music is just one part of its heart.

Even as the historic holy ground that D.C. is, much change is underfoot and not necessarily for its overall good. Urban renewal projects and rezoning construction runs rampant in the district, displacing families and, quite frankly, destroying neighborhoods and legacy. Entire skylines are crowded with cranes. With the 5th largest metro economy and placing 3rd as top tech city in the U.S. according to Forbes, economic development is showing no signs of slowing. In capitalism, someone is winning while someone is losing and Native Washingtonians, especially low-income households, are losing. Much of the latest developments that draw migrants like myself come at the expense of those who are from here. I’d be remiss like most other transplants if I did not take the time to learn and appreciate the town’s rich history. I look forward to sharing with you the fine story of D.C. as Chocolate city, along with sharing different aspects of the current maladies many native Washingtonians are facing. I intend to do my part as an Artist by reflecting the times here in D.C. to the best of my ability. Stay tuned.

@_What.ever.lola.wants_

P.S. Images were to follow. Except, I deleted/misplaced 3 months worth of files. Technology doesn’t seem to want to be my friend.