Empowerment – The Fire Within (A 2013 Throwback)

The following piece was written back in 2013. While 4 years have passed, the underlying message is still quite relevant today.


As members of the LGBT community, it’s sad that we still live in a world that cannot see beyond our sexuality. How appalling is it that the masses fail to realize our worth or accept us wholly and completely? When faced with hatred, discrimination, and stereotypical imagery in media and entertainment, we can’t help but feel a bit of shame, guilt, and anger. So many misconceptions and stigmas continue to cloud judgment, perception, and understanding. But for what? Our sexuality is one of so many parts of who we are. While it doesn’t define us, we can’t ignore it. And it’s obvious that public officials, conservatives, and organizations (that shall remain nameless) are obsessed with our sexuality more than we are.

Did the powers that be, holy rollers, and haters forget that we’re human too? We desire, no, we deserve the same things as our heterosexual brothers and sisters – family, friends, love, happiness, success on our own terms, good health… I could go on, as the list is endless. But you wouldn’t know this reading or viewing some of the media and entertainment created daily. How hypocritical can a society be that prides itself on freedom, but shames, victimizes, vilifies, and silences those who don’t fit the preferred, traditional archetype? We’re well past the time to lift the veil on the alienation and isolation that comes as a result of living in such a heteronormative society. But let us not be defeated.

Validation from the outside world may not come in the time, manner, or fashion we desire it to. However, we shouldn’t let it hinder us from living or having what we want in this life. No matter what the outside world says we must remain steadfast in knowing ourselves and trusting what we believe in. No matter what the world says, we are beautiful in every way. We are not less than. We are warriors.

Sometimes we have to forego or question everything we’ve been taught or led to believe as truth to find out who we really are. There’s so much that we deny ourselves when we feed into to the B.S. aimed at refuting our existence. We have to shut ourselves off from the noise and the hysteria to make way for what’s real – to make way for peace, serenity, and truth. When we’re able to free ourselves individually and collectively – the change we see within and around us will be miraculous.

As Audre Lorde said, “Life is very short and what we have to do must be done in the now.” We cannot wait. While we should celebrate the recent Supreme Court rulings in the DOMA and Prop 8 cases for being a step in the right direction for gay marriage, the movement doesn’t stop there. These rulings should only intensify our fight for justice, equality, and freedom for all. And everything we need for this fight lies within.

The key to finding what’s within, the power within, is loving ourselves. We talk a good game about loving ourselves, but how many of us actually do? How many of us can say we truly love ourselves? It’s impossible for us to love ourselves if we continue to allow internalized hatred to ruin our progress. It’s impossible for us to love ourselves if we continue to tolerate the abuse, ill-treatment, and foolishness we encounter daily.

We must not let fear run our authentic selves away. We must be brazen. Stand up for those who were/are not able to stand up for themselves. Realize that in doing so, we’re empowering ourselves and challenging everyone to (always) strive to be and do better.

When we find the love within, the power is never too far behind. When we find our power… When we realize our power… When we utilize our power, its intensity will inspire action and breed the change we need in our families, communities, and the world.

Ours is a power that not only changes lives, but also saves lives. As James Baldwin said, “The world is before you and you need not take it or leave it as it was when you came in.” So let’s find our power and wield it lovingly, strongly, boldly, and unapologetically. It’s our world. Now let the power within—that internal fire—lead the way!

BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez, A Riveting Documentary about a Literary Lion

 

Image courtesy of Cinema Clock.

Image courtesy of Cinema Clock.

Sonia Sanchez is a lion in literature’s forest. When she writes she roars, and when she sleeps other creatures walk gingerly. ~ Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou was spot on when she called Sonia Sanchez “a lion in literature’s forest.” From one literary giant to another, Sanchez is a force of nature. She’s a writer, poet, playwright, professor, and activist. A strong proponent of Black history, literature, and culture, women’s liberation, racial justice, and peace, Sanchez has inspired generations of writers, activists, and academics in the struggle.

If you’ve been following my blog, it’s no secret how much of an influence she’s had on me. So when I found out that the documentary BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez would be screened in DC on the opening night of the African Diaspora International Film Festival (“Where Black Life Matters On The Big Screen!”), I jumped at the opportunity to support it. And I’m so glad I did.

BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez, a riveting documentary by Barbara Attie, Janet Goldwater, and Sabrina Schmidt Gordon, celebrates Sanchez and her contributions as one of the most influential writers of the Black Arts Movement. It chronicles her life – the personal, professional, and the political. Interwoven throughout the documentary are Sanchez in her element–performing her work with a live jazz band, along with readings and commentary by Amiri Baraka (Rest in Power), Nikki Giovanni, Haki Madhubuti,Ursula Rucker, jessica Care moore, Ruby Dee (Rest in Power), Talib Kweli, and Ayana Mathis, to name a few. Their interpretations of her writing and what she means to the world showcase the tremendous beauty, power, magic, depth, and influence of her work.

One (of several) elements I loved about BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez is that it shows Sanchez–the artist–at work. This level of intimacy is something we don’t often get to see of creatives. Truly a treasure to behold. Leaves one wondering if what she was writing in the documentary ends up in her next volume of poetry. One can hope.

During the Q+A that followed the showing, Sanchez dropped several gems about the struggle and the importance of work. She said, “Nothing changes unless you work… You have to do the work.” This statement is so relevant to issues of personal and societal concern today. Entitlement doesn’t bring change or reward. If you want something in this life, you have to work for it. If it’s something that truly matters, playing your part is essential. Her words serve as a testament to why she and other artists of the Black Arts Movement are so significant. They not only created work that touched the hearts of many, but they also did the work that was critical to changing the world.

And what’s a better way to top off your night by speaking and taking a picture with one of your biggest inspirations?

Me with writer, poet, playwright, professor, and activist, Sonia Sanchez

Me with writer, poet, playwright, professor, and activist, Sonia Sanchez

Thank you Sonia Sanchez for your spirit, strides, and all the blessings you’ve given to the world. You are phenomenal!

If BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez is showing in your town, please go and support it. Also check the listings for your local PBS station, as there may be a showing in the near future.

Personal and educational copies of BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez can be rented or purchased from the California Newsreel site.

Inspired 2 Be

Courtesy of The Root & Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images

Courtesy of The Root & Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images

Those who’ve come b4 me have left me
Inspired 2 be
Just like, just as great, and better
I’m inspired 2 be
By those who’ve raised me
Those who fought 4 me
By those who stand by me
By those who set the example
I’m inspired 2 be
Because a way has been paved 4 me
A way that may not have been
If our ancestors did not fight
2 make a better day
A better nation
A better world
A better way of living
So that we could be free
I’m inspired 2 be the best
I’m inspired 2 be the greatest
I’m inspired 2 be
10 times better than
what the masses expect me 2 be
because I have the blood of gods,
kings, queens, soldiers, warriors, pharaohs,
leaders, activists, slaves,
fighters, mothers and fathers
flowing through me
I have a legacy to live up 2
and people, spirits and most of all, myself
that I cannot let down
There4, I’ve been
Inspired 2 be

© BuddahDesmond

Black Magic

Image courtesy of http://beautifulbrownies.tumblr.com/

Image courtesy of http://beautifulbrownies.tumblr.com/

Blackness in full view
Open and vast
Varied and rich
Not hidden in the cloak of
your lies and shame
Blackness doesn’t need your acceptance
or validation
It just is
As it is
And my, what our blackness is!
Full-bodied power
A vivid cultural mosaic
Intricately woven
Connecting our past, present, and future.

My experiences are too often judged, rarely understood
If I let you tell it –
my story simply wouldn’t be
My existence – my truth –
buried, annihilated
At the other extreme, you’ve tried to tell
my story as if you know me better
than I know myself
Praise to the gods that there never is and there never will be
a substitute for the real thing.

My story – our story –
more hype than virtual reality
Afro-futuristic dreams—
we live them every day
Casting spells before you
can comprehend
#blackgirlmagic
#blackboymagic
Rocking it like no other before, during
or after.

Forever an enigma
Keep ‘em guessing, as Mom always says
And just when they think they’ve figured
you out – flip that shit!

My blackness is unapologetic
Will not turn down
for your comfort
It’s everlasting
Just like the storied journey passed down
from my ancestors
Label it haughty or narcissistic
It’s simply self-love
Black love and BLACK PRIDE.

The strength and resilience
of my blackness is unbreakable
as the blood I share with my brothas and sistas
Forever catching our fires like Sonia
Yielding the fire within
Bringing beauty and beyond to the world
And making history every day
Now, that’s BLACK MAGIC!

© 2016 BuddahDesmond