Category Archives: african american culture

more than all our fingers and toes

It’s enough of us.

It’s enough / for some of us to write the voices of our past

continue the deliverance of our voices from the antiquity of Africa

document our grandmother’s old wives tales and spiritual songs from the fields

it’s enough to tell our current urban tales of survival / struggling to survive / and losses at surviving.

It’s enough of us.

It’s enough / for some to visualize and write our tomorrow’s.

like prophetic bone tossing          because you can read the temperature of the streets and the height of the water’s tide

 

Did you realize that? It’s enough of us to be re-membered.

it’s more of us than all our fingers and toes.

 

 

(this was inspired because I become bothered with: “i can’t read another slave book or see another slave movie!” “that’s what we DON’T need is another urban writer!” “now everybody is a poet.”  the survival of our literature cannot be an option.  so let there be another and another and another.  may the village judge what stays and what goes. just encourage another and…)

Advertisements

Thankful for Toni Morrison

toni morrison photo

 

“A literary artist of the first rank.”

“She delves into the language itself, a language she wants to liberate from the fetters of race. And she addresses us with the luster of poetry.”

Those words are from the Nobel Committee that awarded Ms. Morrison her Nobel Prize in Literature on this day in 1993.

Her acceptance speech spoke of ‘spreading like algae because this prize is being distributed to various regions and nations and races.’  Morrison shared this win with women, the mid west, the east coast and African Americans.  She is one of the reasons I am in love with pen to pad.  Why I love words to dreams.  Why I am courageous enough to speak my vernacular.

People do speak highly of my art.  And I have been used in some really nice analogies during introductions to stages.  And for that, I am thankful for Toni Morrison.

 

 

 

Stolen Legacy: A Writer’s Remembrance

The other day I was at a poetry spot and the host gently reminded the audience how magnificent the art was for the evening and that it had all been created by African American people.  The crowd seemed to be in awe of themselves and apparently had forgotten our brilliance.  It made me think of how perhaps we have allowed ourselves to be imitated and distorted so much and for so long that we now imitate the distorted image of what is given back to us.  That comment provoked this blog.  To hopefully encourage writer’s to remember the power and historical relevance of… THE WORD.

sunriseinegypt

First let me mention, I am writing this from the perspective of Kemetic ancient studies.  The antiquity of Africa.  The land where the seven liberal arts formed the foundation for the Egyptian mystery systems, the first system of a documented resource for salvation.  A sacred and complex study of disciplined curriculum for writing and teaching.  Where breath transcended into sound, prayer, song, poem and eventually the eternal documentation for the cradle of civilization.

How important should a writer of color hold their art?  Well, considering our ancestors were murdered for speaking, dancing, and writing in their original language, that question should encompass no space for denial.  They were murdered for a language and lifestyle that supported true knowledge of self to escape the wheels of rebirth.  A dance that made rain fall.  A music that could be captured by soil.  Today’s writers should hold their art very seriously.  In fact, it should be held as the rest of the world views it, with reverent veneration! It is adored globally.

Continue reading Stolen Legacy: A Writer’s Remembrance

another reason I do

The 1870 census states that my great, great, great grandfather, Isacc Nash, was a farmer and married with four children in Virginia.

The 1880 census states that he died in the Nottoway County jail “a lunatic and idiot” at the age of 40.

Fast forward 2014, his great, great grand daughter (my mother) wept when she read those words.  Of course she didn’t know him.  We don’t even have photos.  “A lunatic and idiot”… is pretty harsh.  What happened in those 10 years?

And history isn’t important?  And black history isn’t important?  And you want to know why if I’m not reading, I’m writing?

another reason why I do what I do.

love,

nikki skies

nikkiwithcoffeeattable

 

Happy Birthday Margaret Walker!

“For My People” is one of those literary works that will be studied for years to come.  This piece sits next to “A Dream Deferred” and “Phenomenal Woman” on your book shelves.  The credit for this timeless work of art goes to Dr. Margaret Walker.

 

margaret walker

During the 1970’s, Dr. Walker was the first of a generation of women who began to seek that their works get published.  Her second novel, Jubilee, is another contributing piece to the notable collection of timeless art by African American writers.  Dr. Walker taught at Jackson State University for almost 30 years and founded the Institute for the Study of History, Life, and Culture of Black People, now the Margaret Walker Center.  I recognize and salute her today!

 

 

some days i feel like, nina simone

nina simone

some days I feel like a fusion. a blend of church revival, street corner and classical energy. I feel bordered and limited and have the ability to make prejudice transparent. I feel like I am everything “separately and simultaneously”. nina simone.

a unique voice with a brazen beautiful bold look. she is known as the high priestess of soul due to her stage presence and use of silence as a musical instrument. when she used the silence she called it, “mass hypnosis.” leaving the audience mesmerized!

simone was born in the south and was very active in the civil rights movement. she sang and spoke at several civil rights meetings and marches but unlike Dr. King, Simone advocated violent revolution tactics when needed. simone was an artist who was granted creative control over her music in simple exchange for her voice. the music/lyrics she recorded has transcended into past and current soul music and even the hip hop generation.

this classically trained pianist lived her later years abroad after learning there was a warrant out for her arrest for unpaid taxes. she continued her music career in Africa, Barbados and ultimately in France where she succumbed to breast cancer in 2003.

another example of timeless art. nina simone.

some days i feel like, elaine brown

elainebrown

some days I feel like elaine brown. I feel like I have the courage to love what feels right. I feel like I can stand in front of whomever/whatever and move past the criticism of my past with a smile. like elaine brown, some days I feel like I can change the world and by doing that sometimes you have to start over.

elaine brown is particularly known for her involvement in the black panther party in Oakland, Ca. while many haven’t had interest enough to read what her contributions and positions were in the party, they seem satisfied with knowing and saying, “she’s an ex-panther.” I had the privilege of meeting her twice and opening for her during a lecture in los angeles a few years ago. she was very emphatic with her intent to tell her side of the story. to make sure we left her with more to say.

she wanted us to know she believed in the black panther party with her entire being. she helped the panthers set up its first Free Breakfast for Children program in Los Angeles in addition to the panthers Free Busing to Prisons Program and the Free Legal Aid Program. she had a progressive intent for her people and herself as a woman/spiritual being. in her book, A Taste of Power, she made mention that she eventually left the panther party because she could no longer tolerate the patriarchy and sexism.

and I remember her speaking of love. I remember her sharing personal photos of her and Huey P. Newton and talking about how much she was in love with him. as I was holding one of the photos, she pointed to him and said, “he was fine wasn’t he?” her entire face smiled.

some days I feel like elaine brown in wanting to be whole. wanting to be accepted as an intelligent and critical thinker as well as a lover. and for all of who I am to be safe enough to share as part of the human experience.

some days i feel like, attallah shabazz

attallahshabazz

the oldest child. the one who clearly remembers. I am the one who appears to have “kept it together”. the one sought for direction and clarity.

Attallah Shabazz is the daughter that can silence a crowd with her commanding beauty and strikingly visible resemblance to her father, Malcolm X. Attallah became the artist to this family that was thrown in the political arena. She is a lecturer, playwright, director, producer and performer. She mirrors her art to her father’s message to continue to elutriate ill perceptions. She has found her own voice to preach her own gospel of human rights and self-esteem.

In an interview, Attallah speaks of having coloring books and reading books that depicted persons from black history. She continued, “So when I went to school and parts of me were omitted from history books, I knew the hole wasn’t in me, it was in the books.” Some days I feel like Attallah Shabazz because even though I learned the hole wasn’t me later in life… when I did find out, my art began a path that had a natural commitment to preserving my community and its’ vernacular.

some days i feel like, bell hooks

bell hooks

some days I feel like, bell hooks. I feel radical enough to express my mental health even when it exposes my family. It is done with respect and an ambition to grow. I can’t remember the first book I read by bell hooks but I remember feeling like I was having an incredibly intimate and engaging conversation. like the writing legacy I want to leave behind, bell hooks has mastered her craft. she stands alone with the interconnectivity she entails with gender, race and capitalism. she is pro a progressive and critically thinking culture. she is pro living life in a just and freedom filled way.

some days I feel like, bell hooks.