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Song & Verse: I just wanna live by Keedron Bryant

My heart.

Gospel remix

I just wanna live
God protect me

I’m a young black man
Doing all that I can (Can)
To stand
Oh, but when I look around
And I see what’s being done
To my kind (Kind)

Every day (Day)
I’m being hunted as prey
My people don’t want no trouble
We’ve had enough struggle

I just wanna live
God protect me
(Just stay right by my side)
I just wanna live
God protect me
(Just stay right by my side)

So many thoughts in my head (Head)
Will I live? Or will I end up dead? (Dead, dead)
It’s an unequal sequel
No matter where I be
There’s no place safe for me (Me, me, me)
Oh, oh, oh-oh
I’m not asking for too much
So Lord, please, help

I just wanna live.
God protect me.

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Isabel de Olvera: I Demand Justice.

In 2019, the United States of America and Ghana commemorated 400 years since Africans were brought to the United States of America in bondage. The NAACP called their commemorative trip Jamestown to Jamestown, beginning with a trip to Jamestown, Virginia and flying over to Jamestown, Accra. Ghana created a whole year of programming named Year of Return which according to Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mrs. Barbara Oteng-Gyasi boosted Ghana’s economy by $1.9 billion from 200,000 visitors[i] most of whom were members of the African Diaspora. Ghana is now creating an ongoing program, Beyond the Year of Return[ii] to further capitalize on the Diaspora’s tortured need to connect to the Homeland.
On August 19, 1619 a ship pulled into Jamestown, Virginia with twenty Africans. These men and women were sold in the first British human auction in North America. Because America has a very British-centric way of retelling its history, non-British colonial stories are marginalized and framed by tales of wars with Mexicans and Native Americans.
Spain began importing enslaved Africans from the Iberian Peninsula[iii], where they were taken after capture, in 1501. In August 1518, the king of Spain authorized direct shipment of captured Africans to the Americas[iv], putting an end to Spanish human trade holdovers in Europe. This drastically increased the enslaved populations throughout the Americas.
Black women of African descent are documented in Spanish settlements throughout the present-day states of Florida, New Mexico, and California. African men and women had long accompanied European travelers to the Americas on Spanish, Portuguese, and English expeditions[v]. The Spanish city of St. Augustine, Florida is viewed as the first permanent colonial city in what is now the United States of America. It was settled with enslaved African and Native labor in 1565. However, Santa Fe, New Mexico was established in what was formerly known as New Spain, in 1610. It is now the oldest state capital in the United States[vi].

In 1600, Isabel de Olvera, a free woman of African and Native descent living in Querétaro, Mexico[vii], joined a relief expedition to the recently colonized province of New Mexico. It is said she was traveling as a servant to a Spanish woman. Before leaving, she spoke an affidavit to declare her free status to the mayor of Querétaro, New Spain, don Pedro Lorenzo de Castilla. She had three witnesses standing with her, a free black man, a mestiza woman (mixed race), and an enslaved black woman and insisted on having a copy to carry with her at all times. Isabel’s statement, intended actions, as well as her witnesses illustrate the broad presence of slavery in North America at that point in time. It also highlights the legal standing of women in Spanish colonies no matter their legal statuses and heritage – 365 years before Black Women got the federal right to vote in the United States. Spaniard’s were moving Africans and their descendants around the America’s more than one hundred years before the United States acknowledges commoditizing and trading human beings within its current borders[viii].
With the cross-cultural and competitive histories of the colonizers, it’s amazing that the expressed sentiments of a Black Woman survives to this day. Isabel’s affidavit, a legal document in the historical archives of two countries – Mexico and the United States, is the oldest recorded example found of a Black Woman speaking up for herself in North America. Though her journey began in Mexico, she deemed the document necessary for her travel to New Mexico. She demanded justice and respect for her existence, singleness, freedom and future. The confidence embedded in her statement remains empowering and inspirational centuries later. May her character and determination lift our voices and strengthen our resolve.
I am going on the expedition to New Mexico and have some reason to fear that I may be annoyed by some individual since I am a mulatta, and it is proper to protect my rights in such an eventuality by an affidavit showing that I am a free woman, unmarried and the legitimate daughter of Hernando, a Negro, and an Indian named Magdalena . . .. I therefore request your grace to accept this affidavit, which shows that I am free and not bound by marriage or slavery. I request that a properly certified and signed copy be given to me in order to protect my rights, and that it carry full legal authority. I demand justice.[ix]
~ Isabel de Olvera

[v] Nedra K Lee Chronology of Enslaved Women in America. Alford, Deleso A., and Berry, Daina Ramey. Enslaved Women in America: An Encyclopedia. United Kingdom, Greenwood, 2012.
[ix] Birzer, D. (2007, January 19) Isabel de Olvera (?-?). Retrieved from

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When did you become radicalized?

A Self-Reflection Exercise.


1: of, relating to, or proceeding from a root: such as
a: of or growing from the root of a plant
b: designed to remove the root of a disease or all diseased and potentially diseased tissue

2: of or relating to the origin
3a: very different from the usual or traditional
b: favoring extreme changes in existing views, habits, conditions, or institutions
c: associated with political views, practices, and policies of extreme change

When did your radicalization begin?
December 2014, following a series of non-indictments of police officers and white-thinking people who killed Black men and boys. Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice were the straws that broke me open.

Where were you radicalized?
Freddie Gray. New York, NY, April 2015. On a Union Square to Times Square march route decrying the murder of Freddie Gray who was illegally pursued and arrested with force. My second march. Before then, I believed the news reports depicting protester violence. Being a crowd of a permitted demonstration that was attacked by police before we even began marching was an eye-opener. In America’s strong-hold of freedom, independence and self-expression – New York City – no less. It was astounding. And the media reported none of aggressive police tactics from that night.

How were you radicalized?
Watching police push the crowd around, listening to them curse at us. Learning that they were trying to separate people from the crowd to do harm. Knowing they were armed and the crowd was not. Free speech didn’t feel like free speech. The right to protest didn’t feel like a right. They treated it like a challenge.

Do you know you’re radical?
Yes, I know now. I want to scrap the whole country and begin from scratch. Burn it all down. Beginning with the Constitution and every law based on it. We continue to operate from fruit from a rotten tree and wonder why we can’t move forward. We need to start over with voices from every demographic in this country contributing to our democracy or whatever governing society we collectively agree upon.

When did you first see yourself in the struggle?
Sandra Bland. Houston, TX, July, 2015. Everything about her is me. I do solo road trips. I’ve been followed by police cars in isolated and unknown areas and didn’t want to stop. I’ve traveled for new opportunities and fresh starts. I know my rights. I am a Black Woman who speaks her mind and will tell you what you can do with your false superiority. Sandra was like seeing myself in the aftermath of my own murder. Seeing how she was attacked, killed and then labeled as a suicide simply because someone wanted to feel superior and others didn’t speak up to check him.

When did you become unapologetic?
Chikesia Clemons. Saraland, AL, 2018. She wasn’t killed but she was brutalized and violated in a public space because she asked for utensils at a restaurant she had just paid for food in. Police were called. Two male officers threw her to the ground, tossed her around like a rag doll, exposing her breasts, then flipped her face down to cuff her. Bare breasts and face to the floor. Everyone in the restaurant continued to eat as if nothing egregious was happening. That stunned me. People wouldn’t have sat around if a white woman was being abused like Chikesia was in that restaurant. It’s one thing to see something and not say something. It’s a whole next level of denial to see something, turn your back on it and continue to act as if that something isn’t happening.

Chikesia was my catalyst to begin working on I AM WOMAN: Experiences of Black Womanhood in America, an upcoming photo essay book sharing who we are in our own words.

When did you know you wouldn’t turn back?
Pamela Turner. Houston, TX, May, 2019. She cried out for mercy for her unborn child. She was shot and killed anyway by a Latino police officer. Whether or not she was pregnant is irrelevant. In that moment she was reaching for a humanizing drop of mercy from her killer. The depraved indifference of the officer who shot her five times proved an alarming lack of humanity in him.

When did you acknowledge your trauma?
Me. Tucson, AZ, March, 2020. When my neighbors threatened me through a houseguest by warning them that “neighbors were discussing throwing rocks through my windows and burning down my home” because they didn’t like the fact that I had added a backyard studio to my property with upscale landscaping and stone walkways. They didn’t like that I was using my home as an Airbnb. So they threatened to burn me out, destroy my home and business. In my mind, my neighbors became a lynch mob. It was difficult to process how very American this interaction was. I had enough strength to get an order of protection, but afterwards, with the help of quarantine, I retreated into deep hibernation, where I essentially remain knowing there’s nowhere in this country I can go to feel safe in my home.

When did you acknowledge your helplessness?
Walter Scott. North Charleston, SC, April 2015 was running away when he was shot in the back by a police officer who tried to claim he feared for his life. All caught on tape by a neighbor from their yard. Walter Scott’s killer was charged with murder and sentenced to twenty-years. Very grateful for the video.

When did you acknowledge your rage?
Eric Garner. Staten Island, NY, December 2014 when I began to understand that the media deflected from the murder of Black People by bringing up property during times of protest. How the fuck are property rights in the same discussion with the right to breathe?

When did you acknowledge your grief?
George Floyd. Minneapolis, MN, May, 2020. I had no more words. I didn’t speak for several days. I didn’t want to speak. I couldn’t put my finger on my exact feelings, but I knew I was overwhelmed. When I was ready to communicate, my first three words were GRIEF, RAGE, TRAUMA. My rage is too much to confront and embrace directly. My trauma reaches back through centuries of dehumanizing brutality for hundreds of millions of ancestors. My grief cries out from the first betrayal of brotherhood to the abduction and transportation by violent co-conspirators to the most racist “post-racial” society any one could have imagined.

When did you become radicalized? (Feel free to answer in the comments.)

When did your radicalization begin?
Where were you radicalized?
How were you radicalized?
Do you know you’re radical?
When did you first see yourself in the struggle?
When did you become unapologetic?
When did you know you wouldn’t turn back?
When did you acknowledge your trauma?
When did you acknowledge your helplessness?
When did you acknowledge your rage?
When did you acknowledge your grief?



#tamirrice #michaelbrown #ericgarner #sandrabland #chikesiaclemons #pamelaturner #walterscott #georgefloyd #breyonnataylor #ahmaudarbery #blacklivesmatter #icantbreathe #policebrutality #statesanctionedmurder #stopkillingus #righttolife #humanrights #whenwereyouradicalized

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Poem: Trauma of the unseen by LaShawnda Jones

Many traumas ripple through a life
Remembered forgotten long ago feeling like now
How to tell what’s real or simply
Perception from trauma tinted lenses
Impossible to know if the
Traumatized have no awareness of their state
One revels in solitude because loneliness
has become a way of life
Quietness broken by occasional conversations
with strangers labeled as friends.
True friends don’t allow friends to rot
Unseen. Unheard. Unfelt. Unknown.

~ LaShawnda Jones, May 2019

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Poem: Gwendolyn Brooks: America in the Wintertime by Haki R. Madhubuti

Gwendolyn Brooks: America in the Wintertime

in this moment of orangutans, wolves, and scavengers,
of high heat redesigning the north & south poles
and the wanderings of new tribes in limousines,
with the confirmations of liars, thieves, and get-over artists,
in the wilderness of pennsylvania avenue,
standing rock, misspelled executive orders
on yellow paper with crooked signatures.
where are the kind language makers among us?
at a time of extreme climate damage,
deciphering fake news, alternative truths, and me-ism
you saw the twenty-first century and left us
not on your own accord or permission.
you have fought and fought most of the twentieth century
creating an army of poets who learned
and loved language and stories
of complicated rivers, seas, and oceans.
where is the kind green nourishment of kale and wheatgrass?
you thought, wrote, and lived poetry,
knew that terror is also language based
on denial, first-ism, and rich cowards.
you were honey and yes to us,
never ran from Black as in bones, Africa,
blood and questioning yesterdays and tomorrows.
we never saw you dance but you had rhythm,
you were a warrior before the war,
creating earth language, uncommon signs and melodies,
and did not sing the songs of career slaves.
keenly aware of tubman, douglass, wells-barnett, du bois,
and the oversized consciousness and commitment of never-quit people
religiously taking note of the bloodlust enemies of kindness
we hear your last words:
     if you see me as your enemy
     you have no
Source: Poetry (June 2017)
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Poem: Gwendolyn Brooks by Haki R. Madhubuti


Gwendolyn Brooks

she doesn’t wear
costume jewelry
& she knew that walt disney
was/is making a fortune off
false-eyelashes and that time magazine is the
authority on the knee/grow.
her makeup is total-real.
a negro english instructor called her:
       “a fine negro poet.”
a whi-te critic said:
       “she’s a credit to the negro race.”
somebody else called her;
       “a pure negro writer.”
johnnie mae, who’s a senior in high school said:
       “she and Langston are the only negro poets we’ve
       read in school and i understand her.”
pee wee used to carry one of her poems around in his
    back pocket;
       the one about being cool. that was befo pee wee
       was cooled by a cop’s warning shot.
into the sixties
a word was born . . . . . . . . BLACK
& with black came poets
& from the poet’s ball points came:
black doubleblack purpleblack blueblack beenblack was
black daybeforeyesterday blackerthan ultrablack super
black blackblack yellowblack niggerblack blackwhi-te-
blackthanyoueverbes ¼ black unblack coldblack clear
black my momma’s blackerthanyourmomma pimpleblack
black so black we can’t even see you black on black in
black by black technically black mantanblack winter
black coolblack 360degreesblack coalblack midnight
black black when it’s convenient rustyblack moonblack
black starblack summerblack electronblack spaceman
black shoeshineblack jimshoeblack underwearblack ugly
black auntjimammablack, uncleben’srice black
black blackisbeautifulblack i justdiscoveredblack negro
black unsubstanceblack.
and everywhere the
lady “negro poet”
appeared the poets were there.
they listened & questioned
& went home feeling uncomfortable/unsound & so-
they read/re-read/wrote & rewrote
& came back the next time to tell the
lady “negro poet”
how beautiful she was/is & how she helped them
& she came back with:
       how necessary they were and how they’ve helped her.
the poets walked & as space filled the vacuum between
       them & the
lady “negro poet”
u could hear one of the blackpoets say:
       “bro, they been calling that sister by the wrong name.”

Haki Madhubuti, “Gwendolyn Brooks” from Don’t Cry, Scream © 1969 by Haki R. Madhubuti. Used by permission of Third World Press, Chicago, IL.

Source: Don’t Cry Scream (Third World Press, 1969)

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11 Years of Blogging! Oh, my!

Eleven years ago today, I posted my first blog on these here inter-nets. “Can I Love You?” was written in the early days of my committed and purposeful faith walk. It’s as sincere and earnest as I’ve ever been in my writing. Several years later, it was followed by a post titled, “…and the People said ‘Hell NO!‘”

Ha! Life certainly rings us full circle!

Many believers attempt to paint the act of loving your neighbor – your fellow human beings – as such a delicate, soft expression of faith. That hasn’t been my experience with love in any form. Loving others has been a harsh, eye-opening refining fire for me. Yet through it all, my battered and bruised heart continues to beat and remains cautiously willing to embrace my fellow human beings.

Blogging has been a great writing outlet for me. Through the years, I’ve hosted about six blogs on WordPress. Before WordPress, I was posting on MySpace. After MySpace, I shared Notes on FaceBook. So far, it has all culminated in three published books:

Each book is available in the Harvest Life Store, and

Click to read Can I Love You?  and here to read …and the People said ‘Hell NO!

Cheers to many more years of exploring and refining my encounters with love.