The Right to Love and Be Loved

One of the things that I admire is the right to love and to be loved. I don’t care who you are, where you come from and where you’ve been, we all want to love and be loved. It is this right to love that compels us to enter into friendships and relationships. It is this right that compels us to forgive those that have created hurt in our lives to move on in loving another person again. It is this right that makes us risk everything to love even after the pain of losing a friend or lover. This choice is one of strength. Yes, if you’ve ever decided to love and be loved after the past drama of a friendship or relationship then just know that you are truly on your way. Fear is created by us. We create fear and we allow it to stop us from doing the things that we want in life.

In seeking to love again, we have to make the choice to love. We decide for ourselves what we want. We decide on who we want to engage with in a relationship, how far it goes, where it ends, what we want, what we dislike and what we need. We hold this much power within our grasp. In reading some lectures by Anais Nin, I remember when she stated that she creates the relationships that she enters into. This startled me. I didn’t really understand this until I reread this. As individuals, we hold friendships with people and relationships. We determine when enough is enough. We determine how far we want to take things. We determine if we will strive in a relationship of love or a relationship of misery. This is how we create the friendships/relationships that we enter into. It doesn’t create itself. The reality is that we can either be active or passive participants in the relationships we choose to engage in. So, in saying all of this, we decide on the right to love and to be loved.

The right to love and to be loved is a choice. We can sulk around in our past and think about all of the the things that could’ve change, but this will not help the present. The present-moment is where we are at. This is where we are. We are not yesterday, five years ago, twenty years ago, or even five minutes ago. We are here. We are in the present moment. In “How to Practice: The Way to a Meaningful Life” by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, it is said that ” under no circumstances should you lose hope. Hopelessness is a real cause of failure. Remember, you can overcome any problem. Be calm, even when the external environment is confused or complicated; it will have little effect if your mind is at peace. On the other hand, if your mind gives way to anger, then even when the world is peaceful and comfortable, peace of mind will elude you”. So, the pain and misfortunes that we have dealt with in the past should remain in the past. We shouldn’t become hopeless in the face of the present moment. We can truly move pass the pain of yesterday or even a few minutes ago. We shouldn’t allow this pain to keep us from functioning. We can and should still love and seek love. This is magnificent. We are able to do this. Not only are we able to do this, but we should demand this of ourselves.

“Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.” – Anais Nin

April 2013: Learning to Celebrate Life in the Face of Death

I feel obligated to talk about a woman that had changed my life forever in April 2013. It brings me to tears in talking about my dear friend, Esther. Esther, a sixty-years old woman with grown-children, a pocketful of memories and a smile that would make you jealous was dying to cancer. She was a warrior, a fighter, and my friend.

However, Esther was leaving me on a daily-basis. Not only was she leaving me, but I saw the fragility of life. I would usually go to school, get off work, head home to fix Esther something and drive to the hospice-center. I didn’t care for one of her nurses, but I wasn’t going for that nurse. I was going to see Esther. So, I would go and sometimes just sit listening to her. It became apparent a little later that Esther was losing all sense of time, hallucinated about past memories and would frequently complain about being in pain. I had a habit of nodding my head to Esther’s persistence that she was at home and that I needed to go to the kitchen to get some food. Or she would tell me about her neighbor, Johnny, and “his empire” next door to her home. Sometimes, she would tell me to watch out for the cat in the room. I would tell her early-on in these hallucinations that the people, animals, and places that she was seeing weren’t real. However, I stopped. I would just start nodding my head and going along with the hallucinations. It was painful to see how a sickness could strip away a person’s faculties. I would frequently leave the hospital with tears in my eyes and a heart heavy with thoughts.

Those nights in visiting her caused me to think about life a lot more. It allowed me to see how we are all full of life, imagination, hope, and memories. Nonetheless, we are all moments away from death. So, we have to celebrate the life in all of us. I made the mistake of seeing death instead of life in Esther. I had stopped going because I was afraid of facing death. I was afraid of coming from work one night and being told that Esther was gone. I didn’t want to face an empty bed without Esther. I wasn’t prepared for it. I wasn’t equipped to handle such news. I knew that death was near, but I didn’t want death to snatch away a friend I had only known for a little time. However, I would’ve continued in my visits because I knew there was life in Esther. Life should be celebrated. I know now that every second of our present is good enough to be celebrated.

In a way, I believe this quote explains how it feels to think about my dear, Esther:
“When someone you love dies, and you’re not expecting it, you don’t lose her all at once; you lose her in pieces over a long time—the way the mail stops coming, and her scent fades from the pillows and even from the clothes in her closet and drawers. Gradually, you accumulate the parts of her that are gone. Just when the day comes—when there’s a particular missing part that overwhelms you with the feeling that she’s gone, forever—there comes another day, and another specifically missing part.”
― John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany

The ironic part of all of it, I never kept going to know if Esther is still alive. I didn’t know how to stay. I didn’t know how to deal with this pain. I had to run. I had to flee. I couldn’t handle it, so I raced from Esther. Now, I know I owe her the life in her. I’m going to honor the life in the hallucinations she had. I’m going to honor the memories she told me about in those nightly visits. I’m going to honor the days we were together. She is my friend. She never left. Her life is a part of mine’s as I am a part of her’s. I will remember her even if she never remembers my name or my face. I will keep her tucked away in my heart.

In memory, in love, in life of Esther

Minor Literature #2: Feminist Theory from Margin to Center by: bell hooks

This is a far-fetch for me in categorizing feminism with Minor-Literature, but I will go forth in proving how this particular book could be defined as Minor-Literature.

I was exposed to feminism in high-school and found it empowering, but only to an extent. I was taught that feminism was a fight for women’s rights and for equality. It was a move to end sexism. However, the packaging of feminism at this point was geared towards White, upper-class women that were seeking to move outside of the home into the work-place. Unfortunately, this first-wave form of feminism didn’t speak or relate to all women. In putting this into perspective, bell hooks stated in “Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center” that Betty Friedan’s “The Feminine Mystique” “ignored the existence of all non-white women and poor White women. She did not tell readers whether it was more fulfilling to be a maid, a babysitter, a factory worker, a clerk, or a prostitute, than to be a leisure class housewife” (2). Additionally, hooks stated that “she made her plight and the plight of white women like herself synonymous with a condition affecting all American women. In so doing, she deflected attention away from her classism, her racism, her sexist attitudes towards the masses of American women” (2).

Additionally, hooks further breaks down the issue that many Americans have with in defining feminism. Hooks stated that “most people in the United States think of feminism or the more commonly used term “women’s lib” as a movement that aims to make women the social equals of men. This broad definition, popularized by the media and mainstream segments of the movement, raises problematic questions. Since men are not equals in white supremacist, capitalist, patriarchal class structure, which men do women want to be equal to? Do women share a common vision of what equality means? Implicit in this simplistic definition of women’s liberation is a dismissal of race and class as factors that, in conjunction with sexism, determine the extent to which an individual will be discriminated against, exploited, or oppressed. Bourgeois white women interested in women’s rights issues have been satisfied with simple definitions for obvious reasons. Rhetorically placing themselves in the same social category as oppressed women, they were not anxious to call attention to race and class privilege” (18).

bell hooks described feminism as “the struggle to end sexist oppression. Its aim is not to benefit solely any specific group of women, any particular race or class of women. It does not privilege women over men. It has the power to transform in a meaningful way all of our lives. Most importantly, feminism is neither a lifestyle nor a ready-made identity or role one can step into” (26).

In reading this text, I was being told that my experience(s) as a Black American woman was just as relevant as a White woman’s experience(s). In high-school, I was only being taught about first-wave feminism that benefited upper-class White women. Unfortunately, my Women Studies’ teacher would seek to apply this one form of feminism to various cultures all across the world. She would have us watch documentaries over women-suffrage (which excluded women of color), women from the Middle East, and the roles of women throughout history. However, the class was purely centered around this Western, White upper-class form of feminism which excluded women of color and poor White-women.

Fortunately, I was exposed to Black feminist and writer, Dr. bell hooks. In a way, bell hooks is my favorite feminist of all times. She connects the dots and doesn’t just say that feminism is about sexism. No, she looks at feminism through various lenses in order for individuals to grasp the inter-connectedness of: racism, sexism, patriarchy, and imperialism. She looks at how all of these factors affects the topic of feminism and the way we think about it. It is not just about women/men fighting against sexism. It is much deeper. It is about seeing how various classes and various racial-groups are struggling/dealing with capitalism/colonialism/racism/sexism. So, bell hooks stated very bluntly that “we have to constantly critique imperialist white supremacist patriarchal culture because it is normalized by mass media and rendered unproblematic.”

She is unwrapping feminism in a way that it can no longer be packaged up with upper-class White women in mind. She is reconstructing feminism and forcing people to see the intersectionality of: race, sex, power, and money. For many people, feminism is simply about fighting sexism. However, bell hooks would argue that this isn’t good enough because every women will not have the same struggles. The upper-class White American woman will not have the same experiences as poor women living in rural Brazil. This is and will not be the case because there are factors affecting the experiences of these women’s lives.

So, the thing about bell hooks that I love is her complexity. She breaks down the way we view things and how mass-media influences us. Furthermore, she makes this complexity so easy to understand that you could quickly see how all of the dots connect to one another. I remember going to the Women Studies’ Department at my university and asking about Black feminism and being told that I should contact the Black Studies’ Department for information about this particular form of feminism. This really stirred something up in me. I didn’t understand why the Women Studies’ Department didn’t have various views/perspectives of feminism present within their department. They ARE responsible for educating women and men on women’s rights. However, there is still this one form of feminism that they insist on being most important. I guess the plight of women of color aren’t as important as a White woman’s plight towards equality. I still believe that Black feminism is marginalized and “to be in the margin is to be part of the whole but outside the main body”. So, I learned from that experience that there is still racism happening in feminism. I will not be okay with this nor tolerate it, so watch out because women of color are wanting their voices to be heard. Let me back up for a bit! When I was directed to go to the Black Studies’ department, I was in utter dismay. This was the one place that women on campus would totally believe could serve them. However, this institutionalize marginalization of women of color experiences is just ridiculous. I wanted to scream. I couldn’t believe my ears when I was told that a department that focuses on women didn’t have the resources available to help all women. As the title of hooks’ book reads “From Margin to Center,” she is truly trying to take the experiences of women of color and place it in the center. It isn’t about being marginalized anymore. No, it is about acknowledgement. It is about being heard.

In short, bell hooks is definitely a feminist that everyone should read on, see in person, and study. Her works will blow you away! It will definitely open your eyes up to feminism in a new and fresh way. You will not be disappointed!

The Heart of a Doubter

Today I will meet God in one of His holy places
Gather the broken parts of me and give them up as an offering
carve out my heart and rinse it with holy scripture
unfold the letters i’ve written in my soul and pray them through tears
maybe God will be happy to see me, again
to know that barren parts of me are thirsty for Him
maybe today I will pray like no other day
pawn off my insecurities/lay aside my doubts/ and talk…to Him
possibly crack a joke or two…with God
maybe smile enough to make Him know that everything/ that I will be okay
that these feet in which I use to walk with through the hells of this world…is just temporary
that the tears that I cry internally are only remnants of what will no longer tread in my soul
maybe today will be a great day
maybe a beautiful day
maybe a day of rebirth
Renee, yeah, Renee
i thought I was lost/that I’ve been led astray/ that God forgot about me/or maybe I forgot the beauty of Him
Today is the day that I will meet God
Lay aside all doubts and visit God
maybe I will find God in the local mosque/maybe I won’t
maybe I will find God in the conversation between me and a holy person
or maybe I will find God right where He has always been
in the manifestation of His creation
maybe I don’t have all of the answers to the many questions that I have for God
but maybe I will never know the answers
maybe this is just another way to cover up my own doubts and issues with God
maybe this is my prayer to God
maybe these lines are being sent up to God just as I type away to an audience that will forever judge me/scold me/ criticize me/ and even misunderstand me
but that is quite okay
the world is a beautifully ugly place and I will never understand it or its people
but I hope God understands me, even if I can’t understand Him
I hope that God keeps me in His remembrance, even when I’m too unsure on how to remember Him
Alhumdulilah-All Praise be to God
So, today I will begin to praise God in the best way I know how/in the only way that I know/ \
through my heart/in the tears that I will never shed in the public/ in the notes and poems that I scribble on random pieces of paper/ in the conversations that I have with random people because I’m trying to find and understand God in all of this
And in all of this, I manage to see the beauty of God/ in His creation/ in the intimacy of life/ in the beautiful and ugly parts of life/ I know that there is God/maybe I am too doubtful to be considered a believer/ but God knows
So, as I prepare to unfold my soul in the mid-day prayer, Salatul Dhur, in congregation with others, like myself, I ask the Lord of the Worlds to keep me grounded in a world that is most chaotic and confusing.

And maybe this poem/this prayer of mine’s is in line with the many other’s/but atleast bring rain so I know that you cry too/ that you feel the pain that I feel/ that you know that my hurt is causing me to crumble/ even when it looks as if I have it all together.

Or maybe bring out the sun today/to let me know that there are brighter days ahead/

Just let me know through whatever way that light is at the end of the tunnel.

and I apologize for my absence in front of you, but with all struggles, its a little hard to face them head-on/so maybe these words will show you that I am standing/facing/begging you for another chance/ because life is a little bit too dark to be without you

On the other end of the phone

I thought I fell in love.
Maybe I did.
Or maybe it was the way his breath settled on the other end of the phone- scared, reassured, alone
The way he hid his insecurities neatly in the basement of his heart reminded me of myself.
Words became conversations, conversations into stories and stories into lessons learned
But have I learned?
Have I learned that a heart is like a newborn baby?
Always needing someone to nurture it tenderly, never quite ready to be hurt.
And his voice would settle like an ocean’s tide upon a shore- calmly and intentionally
I could feel and hear the neediness in his voice like the cries of a baby needing the tender touch of a parent
He was hurt, like me.
The way he hurts is like blades cracking across skin bleeding years of growing up too fast
And he knows it like the way a crack fiend finds escape in taking a hit
He’s as complicated as two lovers trying to find love in hotel rooms
But he is deeply bruised with a swollen heart and a trembling fear of being alone
He’s beautiful behind the pain that frequently creeps up upwardly unexpectantly in our conversations
And just like him and many others, I am the shattered mirror-image of pain and fear.
I am the hotel-room that holds secrets well like walls that will never speak.
I am the heart that yearns for love.
I was the one settled on the other end of the phone feeling scared, reassured and alone.

“Posted on September 3, 2011 by Nahida

At the age of 10 I had a way of walking I’m certain had been with me since I first learned to walk. There is nowhere I could have learned it, and I hadn’t given it any thought to have learned it in the first place. But it was called to my attention at 10, because it was “provocative.” And it wasn’t brought to my attention by men, but by women. Girls, in fact.
It was one foot in front of the other, a hip-swinging walk. And it was not okay. And the girls let me know this immediately. “Stop acting so stuck-up!” “She thinks she’s a model.” “Why do you walk like you’re all that?”

Of course, I didn’t think I was “all that.” And at the age of ten, being rather sheltered from all things overtly sexual, I was thoroughly bewildered and confused. This was how I naturally walked, and it wasn’t something I could change because I had no idea what I was doing wrong. It weren’t as though I could see myself walking and compare it to others. Eventually, though, I did learn to “fix” it. What’s interesting is not only the accusation of sexuality that I never implied, but the fact that I was not allowed to be sexual. These were girls who wore lipgloss, tight jeans, and midriff tops. They weren’t stereotypes–they were whole complete people, who cried when I wrote them sad stories and were fiercely loyal to each other–but they played into stereotypes. They gossiped, worried about their weight, talked about boys, copied each other’s homework, and had serious mean streaks. And consequently, they categorized and forced me into a stereotype. I studied and read and wrote and dressed conservatively (thanks mom) and contributed greatly to class discussions and was overall smart (though they were too!) and therefore was not allowed to demonstrate any kind of “grown-up” confidence.

Ten year old girls don’t walk the way they do to be sexual. They walk that way because that’s how they walk. When the girls cornered me for long legs and swinging hips, it was the confidence they attacked. I’m sure they had some idea that it was interpreted in the world as symbolic of some sort of sexual power, but it only just forming in our understanding. As far as they were concerned, this was power play. I was not a part of their clique.

“You can’t walk like that.”

I was a sweet kid. It’s hard to believe now, and it frustrates me when I remember it, but it’s frightening how soft I was. Watching the girls, I forced myself to change the way I walked because I genuinely believed there was something wrong with me. I walked like them instead. I remember the process, asking a friend of mine, “Do I walk weird?”

“You walk so gracefully, like a swan.” she said. “Don’t listen to them; they’re jealous.”

“Swans are clumsy on land.”

Looking back, there is so much about this that disturbs me. It was my first introduction, I can see, to the sexual interpretations of others forced onto me in a dangerously she-was-asking-for-it-like manner, while I have no involvement and no desire of involvement. I didn’t intend for anything–I was just living my life. I couldn’t intend anything; for crying out loud, I was ten. And yet this is so deeply ingrained into the mentality of society that it was pushed onto me by none other than ten-year-old girls, who themselves had no idea what they were doing, but had somehow come to understand the significance and had learned to police “sexuality.” And I “fixed” something that didn’t need to be fixed to appease to the fabrications of patriarchy, unwillingly, tearily, and self-destructively.

Growing up, the prevalence and instillment of the incident became clear. Everyone thought like this. At 12 I had a red dress I loved wearing. Still conservative, mind you, my mother picked out my clothes. But one day I put it on, and she told me to change it.

“Why?”

“It makes you look pretty. I don’t want… you getting the wrong kind of attention.”

Even then, I wanted to scream.

Did I mention this dress covered everything? Everything? Full-length sleeves and full-length skirt? It doesn’t even matter what it covered. I wasn’t wearing it to be sexual: I liked it because it reminded me of the dress one of the characters of an adventure book I was reading wore on the cover. I felt like riding dragons and finding ghosts in my dreary castle. It also doesn’t even matter if I were wearing it to be sexual, had I not been 12: it doesn’t give anyone the right to involve themselves without my permission.

My mother doesn’t tell me I’ll be raped, but she sure as hell implies it. “You could be kidnapped,” she says. “And… used. For business.”

I would say my mother is paranoid about sex trafficking, but she isn’t paranoid. She’s right. What she isn’t right about, however, is suggesting that being “unpretty” would somehow save me. And while she didn’t make me accountable for the possibility of rape (though it disturbed me greatly that she consistently hinted my life would be utterly and entirely over) she did make me liable for others’ interpretations of what “message” I was sending by the way I dressed.

My mother meant well. She was terrified to death of losing me, a defenseless child, to predators. When I hit my late teens and was not so defenseless, she promptly allowed me to “dress pretty” again. Before class, now a young woman of 17, I walked past the mirror in my bedroom and slid into a well-fitted black dress that zipped on one side. I tugged up the zipper and it stopped, leading me to believe I’d zipped it all the way. In actuality, the zipper had stuck at the curve of my breast, exposing the black lace of my bra.

“Nahida, you look gorgeous!” my instructor exclaimed in third period psychology. “Come here.”

“What is it?” I asked, walking up to her desk.

Without warning, she reached out and yanked the zipper upward, closing the dress completely. I stood for a minute in shock.

“You’ve been walking around flashing everyone all morning,” she guessed grimly. And then, I won’t forget the look she gave me–more than just disapproval, it was blatantly, almost hatefully, accusatory.

Whore!

“I–I didn’t know,” I stammered truthfully. “I thought I zipped it.” Please, please, please believe me, please.

She had dismissively returned to grading papers. “Thanks,” I murmured and walked back to my textbooks. My psychology teacher liked me–not only as a good student but as me, personally–and I liked her, which made her reproach all the more scathing.

Of course, that wasn’t the end of it. The forging of a false reality by those who have no business interpreting my behavior and policing me occur even here. Whenever I write a sex-related post, men–men this time, Muslim and non-Muslim alike–submit comments that clearly assume I am attempting to ensnare them with the subject of sex, even if the entry itself has nothing to do with seduction and everything to do with my perspective, experience, and feminism. Just because you don’t see a point, doesn’t mean there isn’t one. There are other commenters who very much see the point–so I take it the problem is you, not my writing. And if there weren’t a point? Well GTFO–that’s what I wanted to do, and that’s for me to decide. You need to see your way out. I’m pretty tired of receiving comments along the lines of, “Modesty, sister!” and “STOP TRYING TO SEDUCE ME!”

I am not, in fact, trying to seduce you.

The Internet is a big place. If you don’t like the discussion, don’t participate. Don’t read. Find something else. Don’t lecture me about modesty when you’ve clearly lost yours, arrogantly believing you have any right to tell me these things or command me to stop or interpret my behavior and involve me in your incorrect interpretation by submitting such comments or that you have any say on how I should live my life or what I should write about.

The whole delusion of she must be attempting to be seductive or she wouldn’t be wearing that / talking about this is at its core egotistical. And, fine, let’s say a woman is trying to be seductive. What the hell makes you think you’re the one she’s trying to seduce? And if you aren’t, what the hell makes you think you have any right to shove yourself into her business? Your thoughts are your own: you are free to notice her, think about her, fantasize, etc.–you are not free to involve her, through actions or words that disclose what’s going on in your pants, unless she specifically consents and makes it clear. And this consent is not infinite. Or “a light switch” as they say. And this goes both ways. Were I to fantasize about a man I knew, I wouldn’t tell him this, thereby involving him, unless I was certain he wouldn’t mind hearing it. Otherwise, yes, it is harassment–I would be involving him against his will and making him feel extraordinarily uncomfortable.

It astonishes me to no end that men have a problem with this. A lot of guys wouldn’t appreciate being hit on by someone they’re not interested in–but they expect women to accept it. Would a straight man put up with being hit on by other men? If it ever happens, tell him to quit bitching. Don’t listen to pathetic excuses like “I don’t want to be hit on by someone I’m not into” or “That’s just really creepy, and I don’t find him attractive.” He’s clearly a vagina.

Like the ten-year-olds previously mentioned who categorized me–and themselves–into stereotypes, the actions and very real personalities of women are often fetishized as though they aren’t whole or they belong in compartments of sexuality, a mentality that enables men to “sample” women of each respective fantasy and ultimately objectify and limit them to these. And there are several. The “innocent girlfriend”–popular among religious men and Nice Guys–whom men protect not out of selfless care and love but for the sake of being the first ones to “corrupt” her, or to fulfill their own fetish through the limitation of her personality. The “experienced whore”–her supposed “opposite”–and then of course the deadly dichotomy, whom few women are–and when they are, they are viewed as deceitful, mind you–and destroy themselves attempting to become. Smart girls are fetishized for their intelligence, not for being whole people from whom we learn and with whom we expand our perspective, but for “Hey I slept with this really smart chick.” And don’t get me started about “beautiful exotic girls.”

We don’t revolve around you. And my personality is not a fetish.

What people don’t realize is that there is a point at which slut-shaming and prude-shaming are pretty much the same damn thing. Literally. When you shame a woman for “dressing like a slut” and therefore supposedly bringing inappropriate advances upon herself, you are also prude-shaming her for not tolerating such behavior.

Seriously, just stfu.

the fatal feminist © Nahida S. N.”

Blog: http://thefatalfeminist.com/2011/09/03/the-nonconsensual-sexualization-of-unintending-young-women/

No Regrets: Just Southern Boy Hospitality

You told me not to tell her that I loved you
That I loved you in color
Loved you like a morning’s sunrise cracking open free into full bloom
Not to let her know that my name is stained across your lips with forever written in permanent ink
Like our love-story/engraved in the broken/most intimate parts of our souls
That you/that I
Found God in the prayers of our pain
That we’re both two wounded hearts breaking free
That I became hands open wide catching your tears
Planting my all, the seed of my love into your broken soul
That you kept me up late in conversations
Under the night’s skies with the moon and stars as witnesses/witnessing us catching flame to the igniting of this intimacy
That we made great love in the bedsheets of our most intimate thoughts
I never thought I would hate you for the memories you left burning as the centerpiece of my soul
Leaving remnants of our yesterdays within the closet of my heart
Leaving clever lies and empty promises rotting at the gate of my heart
Making me believe your words as truth like divine scripture
To only find your love as truthful as the promises you never kept
And you told me to come back, that you loved me
My love, did you forget?
Did you forget that you left bruises in my heart?
The taste of betrayal upon my lips
Shattered pieces of love across my soul
Distress written in the notebook of my thoughts
And I’ve always said I’ll never allow a man to lay his hands on me
And I guess I was right
Because your hands never found their way/their home on my body
Just the lies that you left in my heart with the rotten love you kept behind
I never knew abuse until I found you
Finding you heart-broken/shattered pieces scattered/broken in all of the wrong places
But you, you left me fractured and tortured in the prison you left of me
With my hands being a burial-ground of the hell you left for me
I unraveled my soul for a man that was less than a king for his queen
So, tell her
Tell her I was everything you never deserved
I was everything you couldn’t be
Honest
Real
Committed
And that a real Southern boy with Southern hospitality wouldn’t call the morning after with another woman’s name still heavy on his lips, mistaking her for me
And that your game ain’t that tight because I heard the hesitation bleeding through the phone
As if she was in the next room over
Unfolding herself from the mess you made of her
And I’m sure you’re lustfully in love with her
Coming easy in her ears to come quickly in between her thighs to simply leave her
But unlike the others,
I will love me whole and never in parts
Split-opened-exposed for a man who just needs a quick fix
And that I will sinfully love me whole
Without regrets

The Transcendence of Mind and Body

Love came racing down my spine as it arched its way into climax
as I drew myself higher within the confines of my imagination
beads of sweat swayed seductively along every curve of my body
something happened that night
when I carved out my soul
with eyes shut and heart open-wide
my body sung its song
while my feet danced the lyrics of a songbird setting free
I left the world that night
and transcended what was at that very moment
setted aside all doubts, delivered up my body
leaned into the open-space
fell gently in love with the soft and somber breeze
of night-time and redemption

love was written in fire across my body
set aflame
it was my night
the unveiling of womanhood cracked open
with passion dancing through my veins
Palms sweaty with dropped tears of frustration
I raged war against myself
Undressed my soul
Soared like a caged bird
Ripped out my ego
and made prayers through the rhythmic love being made in this intimacy
between body and spirit
in the width of my arms outstretched wide
I was my own lover kissing myself tenderly
exploding like a volcano erupting
as danger fluttered across my lips
as my lips mumbled words of life
in the places where death lived

That night I transcended mind and body
through the dance of life

Upon the release of Amir Sulaiman’s “The Opening” (2013) I had to download it onto my
computer to put on repeat. Every since I’ve discovered spoken-word I’ve enjoyed
listening to Amir Sulaiman’s poetry. I had first saw Amir Sulaiman perform
“She’d Prefer A Broken Neck…” for Russel Simmon’s Def Jam Poetry. After
listening to his poetry online, I knew I had to keep myself updated on any new
poems from him. Sulaiman’s poetic-style is raw, spiritual, real, and truthful. I
personally believe that Sulaiman could carry a whole night of poetry alone
without anyone introducing him or closing the show. If I ever had the chance to
see Sulaiman live I would most definitely purchase a ticket. Sulaiman’s poetry
is very much in your face and without apologies. It penetrates you straight in
the heart. It makes you think about many issues within the world around you.

On his new album, “The Opening”, Sulaiman offers listeners with an uprising of words set aflame. The whole album is a favorite of mines, but there are certain tracks on the album that leaves me pressing repeat. One of the tracks I have enjoyed from day one is “Come To The Hills” feature Drea Nur. Actually, this is the last track to the album and it leaves you
questioning many things. It definitely stirs up a sense of uneasiness in your
soul. Sulaiman brings up Emmit Till and his death along with the emasculation of
great Black men in history. He compared and contrasted the realities of the past
with the realities of today. Sulaiman discussed the harsh-realities facing
Blacks and the mentalities of current Blacks in American-society. There is
definitely alot of testerone on this track. In listening to this track, I think
about the present music that many Black-artists produce in American-society and
I weep. Alot of the present mainstream music produced within rap and hip-hop is
demeaning, materialistic, and unrealistic. There is a removal of reality being
presented in alot of mainstream music. In listening to Sulaiman’s spoken-word
piece, I think about the Black female-presence and how it interacts with the
Black-male. The majority of the track centers around the emasculation of the
Black-male and the history of the past. Not only does the track center around
the emasculation of the Black-male, but Sulaiman looks at the climate of current
politics for Black-males in America. The track leaves the listener questioning
the current generation’s response to its past history along with generations to
follow. Of course, this is interpretive and just from my own analysis.

As you peruse your way through the album, you may find yourself sitting within your thoughts. It’s okay. There’s nothing to worry about…for right now. Sulaiman created an award’s praiseworthy album in my book. Every single track on the album discusses heart-wrenching truths and realities that many people shy away from. I will definitely say that the album is political and revolutionary.

So, what are the main topics throughout the album? I would have to list off a few topics:
*The place for race and its relevance in American-society
* What is masculinity
* Is the artist the same as his/her art?
* The role of death in our lives
* Faith
* Love
* Pain
* Identity
and more.

There’s alot to take away from the album and there’s more to be analyzed, but this is just a brief analysis on one of the tracks that I’ve enjoyed personally. The album will provoke many questions and will stir-up some unruly conversations in social-gatherings about many of the topics I listed above. The album is definitely an opening to something bigger than just words on Sulaiman’s notepad.

Here’s the link to the full-album: https://amirsulaiman.bandcamp.com/album/the-opening

If anyone is interested in discussing the album, let me know! It’s worth having dialogue about in the near future.