poetry

His Story: A Poem for Trayvon: Rainbows and Rope Burns

His Story: A Poem for Trayvon: Rainbows and Rope Burns

His Story

trayvon_martin1

At the end of some rainbows lay Olympic size pools of blood from a body that once was… breathing. In search of  a pot of gold, or hell maybe just tryna get home. Cause Skittles commercials ain’t supposed to end this way, cause drowning at the end of the rainbow isn’t the way Trayvon wanted to end this day. Trayvon wanted to get his cousin some Skittles. Not boycotting for Civil Rights or protesting some capitalistic sin. And the only thing Trayvon was occupying was his skin. He just wanted to get his cousin some Skittles. But as a young black man Trayvon’s body was inherently political. Because the rope burns around our necks are residual. Because our skin, the vault that houses the narrative of our collective souls has a memory that is impenetrable. So as Trayvon lay there, drowning in a pool of blood, I can’t help but thinking the experience was unforgettable, because his blood had been there before. Whether from the extended branch of a tree, or from the metallic bumper of an SUV, his blood had been there before. Whether from the asphalt of a New York street, or the fields of the Confederate elite, his blood had been there before.

At the end of some rainbows lay Olympic size pools of blood, from a body that once was… breathing. And on this day that rainbow gave Trayvon rope burns. Because his Skittles were Emmett’s whistle, and therefore Zimmerman considered that rope earned. Earned not by reading Pedagogy of The Oppresed, earned not by looking deeper into the incomplete Autobiography of Malcolm X, earned not by sitting in a seat when being told to move, earned not by staging a revolt against being owned and abused. Earned because Trayvon wanted to get his cousin some Skittles. You see when you’re black being political ain’t got shit to do with being “political,” cause our politics ain’t just personal; it’s residual! And the process of rainbows closing in on us is continual.

So as you sit there doubting whether or not rainbows can give a person rope burns, you may want to pause and ask Trayvon’s mom what her son earned? You may want to ask her what was her sons favorite color? Ask her if he’d earned the chance to one day find a lover. Ask her if he’d earned the chance to bring his family wealth. Ask her if he’d earned the right to live, so that he could protest about himself or so that he could care less. You see the freedom to be indifferent is what we’re gonna lose next. What is a family to do, when they are told the reason their son died is cause he looks like you?! Because his soul was housed in skin that was home to flowing narratives that had been there before. The gunman who took his life is still on the streets… don’t think I need to say much more. I just want Trayvon’s family to know that we care. And that even though his physical body may be gone his narrative is here… and there. We carry him with us each day not just in our thoughts at day or night, his story courses through our bodies, and therefore his story gives us life. Our blood has been there before.

At the end of some rainbows lay Olympic size pools of blood from a body that once was… breathing. The lynch mobs never disappeared they just got licensed handguns and badges. And as they try to wipe us out, there’s one thing that they haven’t accounted for, and that’s our spirit of always fighting back… Our blood has been here before. Taste the rainbow.

chrisrobertsAbout the Author: Chris Roberts is a Poet. Scholar. Activist. B.A. Maryland ’11/M.A. SF State ’13/Incoming PhD student, Temple University. Write 2 free. Speak 2 hear. Listen 2 liberate. Elevator of Thought · Check out his blog ietherevolution.wordpress.com

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Exquisite Women: Dr. Kimberly C. Ellis

Exquisite Women: Dr. Kimberly C. Ellis

Exquisite Women

TheBlackManCan: Dr. Ellis, You also go by the name Dr. Goddess. Can you tell us how this name came to be?
DE: I started online as “Goddess” at first to not only reclaim my spiritual crown but to also serve as a response to the rise of misogyny in American culture, namely in Hip Hop and Rock. It was like an addition to Queen Latifah’s song, “U.N.I.T.Y.” in which she says “you ain’t a bitch or a ho”. After some revelations, I thought, “Right. I’m a goddess”. You can’t just say what you’re not, it’s important to say who and what you are. I also knew that other women, in particular, would relate and cosign, which is exactly what happened, although I was surprised to find how many men supported this moniker in its honorable form as well, despite the fact that, at the time, if you typed “Goddess” into a search engine, most of it would be porn. #FAIL
TheBlackManCan: You are a scholar of American Studies with a specialization in African American Literature and History, why did you choose this field to study?
DE: It was perfect for me. I love History and Literature, America is a fascinating experiment and I love Black people and wanted to learn more about myself, my culture, my people, so I could properly assess myself and, of course, extend that love to everyone else. Charity starts at home.
TheBlackManCan: Currently you are the Executive Director of the Historic Hill Institute. What is the Hill Institute?
DE: It’s the preservation organization for the Historic Hill District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I am an Historic Preservationist and have been trained by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It was an easy side step, as a professor of American and Africana History.

TheBlackManCan: Where did you develop your passion for poetry and theater? 
DE: My mother was an English teacher who always inspired an enthusiastic love of learning. I’m sure that most of my propensity for language, art and learning comes from her. In addition, she enrolled me in the (Betty) Love School of Dance at the Downtown YWCA, in which I took three straight hours of ballet, tap and jazz classes, with short breaks in between. We also had fabulous, annual dance theater performances in elaborate costumes with professional lighting and some of the best choreography, ever. Ms. Gibbs was wonderful. She had worked with Katherine Dunham, had performed in Paris and brought her experience and high expectations to all of us kids (many of whom were working class and/or poor). She gave me life. Literally.

I also did Black History Month plays in grade school, was a flag girl in an all-Black drum & bugle corp and upon the cusp of my becoming a teenager, my uncle’s play hit Broadway and he became the most produced Black playwright in the country, over the next 20 years. So, I grew up on August Wilson and it was as wonderful as anyone might imagine. It’s been five years now and I still can’t believe he’s gone. I just can’t believe it…
TheBlackManCan: You have performed, facilitated workshops and classes all over the world. Why is it important to be a global citizen in 2010?
DE: Because it’s a small world and, yet, for young people, for people of color and for poor people, in particular, they need to know that the quest to affirm their humanity is both aligned with and in relation to that of the rest of the world. Get off of your block. Get out of your neighborhood. Leave your state. Leave your country. You can come back but you MUST go.
TheBlackManCan: In Louisville, Kentucky on July 27, 2006, a day was called”Dr. Kimberly Ellis Day” by Mayor of Louisville. How did this come to be? How did it feel to have your own day?
DE: I was shocked, for real. I’m a member of the Black Theatre Network and they do not play about supporting their people. I’m sure that Dr. Lundeana Thomas is responsible for that. And they also have a very sick sense of humor because when I was given the certificate, it was after my show, which was close to 9pm, so I was told to enjoy my day because it would be over by midnight. AHAHAHAHAH!!!  I love them so much.
TheBlackManCan: Can you give us some information on your two shows that you are currently touring?
DE: I started Dr. Goddess!: A One Woman Show to start a revolution. I can’t even lie. It’s working, too… The sequel, “Dr. Goddess Goes to Jail: A Spoken Word, Musical Comedy (Unfortunately) Based on a True Story” came about because of the energy in the universe but also because I was commissioned by the Three Rivers Arts Festival to produce something because the Executive Director and staff were fans of my work and heard of its popularity throughout the city. So, I agreed and it was one of the best things I could have ever done. But that cast and crew was 26 persons. We did a short tour and people continue to ask us to do it but it is now on DVD and I would greatly appreciate it if people purchased it. http://www.drgoddess.com/merchandise.php
TheBlackManCan: You a very accomplished woman and all that you have achieved so far is just the tip of the iceberg. What is the legacy that you want to leave?
DE: I’m just getting started. I feel like I’m five years old, so I’ve not that much about my legacy. But now that you asked, I want for people to know that:

I intend to be free. And I intend for you to be free, too.
TheBlackManCan: What advice can you leave for the youth of today?
DE: Wow. Um, first, “don’t believe the hype” about yourself. You are not a lost generation. You were meant to be here. However, many of you are extremely ignorant because you have not unplugged from The Matrix. Please do that. Then take a look around. Then leave your block (see above). And then come back because, as Alice Walker says, it’s important for you to come back home and think about why you thought what you thought when you thought it.

Further, you are not any bad name that anyone has ever called you. You’re not a thug, a gangster, devilish, worthless or a bad seed. You’re not a bitch, a ho, a slut or anything else someone has come up with. What you are is a survivor in a majority culture that doesn’t value you beyond how you can serve them. But you were not born here to be a slave. You were born here to change the world. Turn the TV off for a second. Click off your music for a moment. You hear that silence? That’s the god and goddess in your talking. Be that. Do that. Do you.

 

Exquisite Women is where we at TheBlackManCan highlight Black Women who are making positive and remarkable contributions to society.  Nominate a Black Woman today on the contact page or e-mail team@theblackmancan.org, subject line: Exquisite Woman!

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