Attraction

Seeing your eyes as never before,

As you’re approaching me

Your eyes hold wide an open door,

Of where I’d like to be

As ever, I chase to satisfy my taste,

As if a cup of bliss

I swallow my pride and start the race,

For you, I’d not want to miss.

Cire

The MID-TACS

While growing up in Cincinnati there was not a lot of interest in learning or playing tennis especially in the Black community. The local tennis courts were paved with cracked concrete where kids used the courts for baseball practice and for playing tag. Those of us that played the sport were viewed as middle class Black folk. So, there was one set of courts in the community which were not too blemished and, where many Black people did play the sport. As an aside, when we would observe White people infrequently using the court, it was painful, as if they were taking our only sole possession. Our little enclave treated the courts as if we have an exclusive tennis club. In fact, in that setting I learned to play tennis from young Black professionals, men and women, who worked at Proctor & Gamble, Ford and whom were also lawyers and local politicians. They took me under their wings and provided me a breath of fresh air, introducing me to a whole new world which allowed me to escape what was considered normal.tennis

During this phase in life, I was 15 years old. I did not have an image nor a definition of what a Black collective was at that time. However, very soon into my newly formed tennis community, it became quite obvious what the Black collective experience was all about. First, there was our local tennis community where all Black people played and seemed to have caring relationships with one another. I was awestruck by the fact that they took me into their world and helped me to achieve a scholarship to college. Today, I love the sport and have made a living by way of teaching tennis to others, Black and White, young and old.

What was so special about those journeys on the tennis court was that we had a Black experience or what I consider a Black collective. And though our collective was created through the sport of tennis, it was a safe gathering space for like-minded people to gather. Not only was there tennis to be played, we would rest while sitting in circles under a shade tree discussing the latest news and local gossip. Men and women became friends with our younger generation, mentoring us young folk on getting things done and giving us firm advice on going to college. Amongst our fellow tennis players, we had tennis mothers who made sure we were eating properly and drinking enough fluids to get us through the six hour stretch. That was roughly the amount of time one spent on the court. Fathers too became surrogate fathers to those of us that did not have a father though raised by a single mother.

And then, there were the MID-TACS. This was the largest Black organized tennis tournament in the Midwest, played by an all-Black cast of tennis enthusiasts and skilled competitors coming from the Midwest. From our small Cincinnati enclave to regional enclaves arriving from Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Ohio, the MID-TACS, known as the Midwestern Tennis Association Championships was the event everybody prepared for all year long. This event produced several professional tennis players. However, my primary purpose in attending the MID-TACS was to be with a Black sports collective. The collective was strong, dedicated, and intelligent and, a breath of fresh air as it pertains to Black consciousness. It seemed that all attendees were educated and presented a strong platform for Black tennis for both adults and children. And although participants could play a tournament anywhere in their local towns, it was a given fact that one had to compete in the MID-TACS if only to have that one experience of being with one’s people.

During the four-day experience, I would stay in a hotel with friends my age while adult chaperons and our den mother were always nearby. We were introduced to other youth from multiple cities that had different ideas and values and that listened to different music and dressed in high-fashion. There were rich and poor Black youth in attendance which created an eclectic mix of conversations and attitudes. The richer folk valued their social status while the poorer valued their pride and athletic ability. The trash talking and banter about what city was leading the tournament went on for days. And from my experience, there was always the one girl that I would find to be the most beautiful girl in the world. I would see her once in the summer, then dream again and again of her until the following year.

In terms of research methodology, the amount of intersectionality, including gender, age income and social status was in full light of anybody doing research. Because the tournament was a four day event over the July 4th weekend, participants had opportunities to attend workshops covering topics on academic and sports scholarships, social services, religion, and financial literacy. In these workshops and even at social events, conversations held by males and females, youth and adults would take on current national issues to in-depth sociopolitical discourse.

As an outcome, the qualitative information collected for research would help support the need for more Black collectives, whether a sports collective, Black female collective or a Black male collective, all would make for a genuine and unique journey. The need for our people to move around the country, meeting and organizing with other Black folk serves one in terms of establishing identity and self-worth. In many circumstances, Black children are pigeon-holed to their neighborhoods without a reason or means of ever escaping their everyday traumas. By having an organized Black sports collective such as MID-TACS, whether formed by sports or another social activity, would fuel and uplift our young folks to strive for healthier minds, body’s and spirit.

Rush

Color is to Autumn as love is to marriage,

For leaves change and loves bliss sways,

We tend to observe the surface.

 

Temperature lowered and temperament despair,

The layers become thicker and attitudes flair,

We tend to observe the surface.

Cire

To Be Posthuman Is To Be Invisible

The plight of a posthuman black and brown body nullifies possibilities of the black and brown body ever becoming respected. Today, black and brown bodies could possibly be viewed as posthuman. This is to say, that black and brown people are not respected as a human in the eyes of some folks, especially those that are supposed to uphold the law. Thus, we may have always been posthuman in an opposing sense of the word. Since slavery, black people and indigenous people have walked the fields and pavements of America as invisible or posthuman. Once a black and brown body is enslaved, beaten, raped, tortured and dehumanized, then, posthuman must be the last resort to find some peace, right? NO…a person should never give up deny themselves an identity. All one has is their history, her-story, one’s culture, one’s family.

Even today, black and brown children are invisible while they are denied their history from as early as kindergarten all the way through the academy. Decolonization should start early, though the settlers mind trap is pushing forward their decolonial refusal ways.

In recognizing Black Feminist Thought (BFT) and Black Feminist Methodology (BFM), we observe that what should be valued, conclusive and regarded as evident, remains distracted. Harnessed are the views and opinions of Black women, scholarly or not. This is especially seen in today’s corporate America, where women of color must invent, then reinvent the wheel just to get a pat on the back. Not only are our Black female scholars muffled, there are countless numbers of Black women in the fields of finance, film, writing, publishing, medicine, technology, planning & development and sales who, at a minimum, do not receive an honorable mention for their merit and achievements. By way of Black Feminist Methodology, Black women have found an outlet for voicing scholarly arguments, sentiment, joy, and anger—emotions which are tied to hundreds of years of posthumanist journeys. In fact, to paraphrase Patterson et al, “according to BFT scholars, black women’s knowledge is acquired through various experiences living, surviving, and thriving within multiple forms of oppression.” Approaches and/or methodologies developed by black women oftentimes go by the waist side, where men, black and white take their shine away. Again, one would implement the posthumanization effect, whereas black women, who have always been at the forefront of feminist thought, are forced to create a biracial stance against injustices to all women. Without doubt, one can see this occurring in today’s public opinion with regard to the Trump administration.

Trump’s pre-election approval ratings and his greenlight to the presidency were very much supported and mended by white women. These are the same white women that listened to Trump’s foul 70 year-old language involving a sexually fueled conversation about what he would do to a woman. He chuckles as he describes his predatory ways to another male. While Trump’s opposing white women march to protect THEIR rights. Black women march, too, and have been marching for THEIR rights for hundreds of years. In fact, our current #MeToo movement was started by a black woman, Tarana Burke, 10 years ago. And as Trump is watched today, stumbling through a presidency, where he is allowed to trample over black peoples causes, Obama’s quasi reparations, we forget to march for Korryn.

Korryn Gaines, a black woman, a mother, a human…killed by police who shot and killed her using automatic weapons while she remained inside her home refusing to come outside to receive a warrant. They shot through the exterior walls of her home, not only killing her, but also shooting her five year old son who did survive. Korryn was 23 years old. This is not the first black woman to die by the hands of police. Numerous black women have died from police brutality and senseless acts of what should be determined as racist decisions by OUR police force. It is a fact that more black women are killed by police than white women. Perhaps black women have reached a posthuman phase. As Andrea J. Ritchie describes in her essay, “police view African American women as masculine and animalistic.” A case and point is the conversational nastiness of some media and fans when tennis player Serena Williams enters onto the tennis court. Furthermore, Ritchie argues that “police view African American women as violent, predatory, or noncompliant regardless of their actual conduct and circumstances, no matter how old, young, disabled, small, or ill.” Ritchie’s observations conclude that gender violence against black women is real.

And therefore, black women need a gathering place to have their voices of shared experiences heard. Being coined as masculine and animalistic should bring black women together so that collectively and consciously, they openly discuss and recognize that they are not indivisible, and that it is OK to be who they are in their skin. In the Black Women’s Gathering Place, women were able to break their silence and cut down barriers with one another which allows them to breathe easier knowing that their not alone.

A Black Women’s Collective was started in our home 23 years ago. The impact that it had on all participants was amazing to watch, even as a participant on some occasions. Friends in this group came from different walks of life, some having an easier lifestyle than others. Despite their differences in education, income and lifestyle, they seem to enjoy the fact that they could rely on each other for one day of the month. The mission of the group was to initiate fun reunions for young black moms who rarely had time to leave their house due to raising children. Organized by my wife, she created a book and film club similar to the Black Women’s Gathering Place. They met every month at a different location to cultivate their friendship, to converse and discuss the latest film or book, and to breathe; all while dropping their armor so to become human once more. Their discussions also gave each of them a chance to talk about work related issues which left them vulnerable at other times. The relationships from this gathering place are still intact and still meeting regularly.

Works Cited

Douglass, Patrice D. “Black Feminist Theory for the Dead and Dying.” Theory & Event.” Hopkins University Press Vol. 21 (2018): 106-123

King, Tiffany Lethabo. “Humans Involved: Lurking in the Lines of Posthumanist Flight.”

King, Tiffany Lethabo. “Post-Identitarian and Post-Intersectional Anxiety in the            Neoliberal Corporate University.” Feminist Formations Vol. 27 (2015): 114-138. Print.

Palmer, Tyrone S. “What Feels More Than feeling?” Theorizing the Unthinkability of Black Affect.” Journal of the Critical Ethnic Studies Association Vol. 3.2 (2017): 31+

Patterson, Ashley, Valerie Kinloch, Tanja Burkhard, Ryann Randall, and Arianna Howard. “Black Feminist Thought as Methodology: Examining Intergenerational Lived          experiences of Black Women.” Departures in Critical Qualitative Research Vol. 5   (2016): 55-76

Nature Speaks

Poem written for my grandmother and mother. Circa 2003.

Crocuses, tulips and daffodils bloom,

They whisper to each other throughout the noon,

The Rhodies, the trees, the holly’s listen,

As time passes by, their leaves too glisten,

The air is fragrant with scents so sweet,

As sun and moon smile upon their feat,

From dawn to dusk and dusk to night,

Their blooms arrive at morning light,

This beauty continues again and again,

‘Cause nature speaks amongst its friends

Cire