Sunday, April 5, 2009
The other day I was sitting with my laptop poised to work on an editing project. Instead of working my spirit was filled with conversations I've had with peers. Some were angry, others were embarrassed by complicit actions as they gave in to what others deemed suitable for the book buying public.
Subsequent conversations revealed that although they acquiesced to industry pressure, altered and unpublished stories cried out stirring them from sound sleep.
It caused me to reflect on how as an author I was caused to grow up fast within an industry that I once saw through innocent eyes. I learned that I had options and that there is an audience for a variety of works that recognize my culture, speaks to my value system and presents my people in realistic rather than stereotypical settings.
Lost in thought my pen to write. Below is the result of that subconscious flow. I do not consider myself a poet, yet I believe that this was placed in me to give to you as a form of encouragement.
The Loss of Innocence
So often I reminisce about days gone by
Those days when only sunlight blinded innocent eyes
When I rubbed my eyes, cloudy became clear
I am ashamed to say I was beset with fear
What happened to us? Where did we go?
Did we give up our value for new seeds to sow?
What became of our heritage as we harvested new crops?
Did we devalue them as unnecessary like evaporating dew drops?
No longer confined to the rural life of small towns and farms
We have moved to the city, oblivious to unseen harms
Gone are the leisurely days of reading old friends
Instead we are bombarded by volumes of texts with disturbing ends
What happened to Zora, to Nikki, to Langton?
What happened to literature I once ravenously fed on?
Where are the stories that speak to who I am?
What value do I derive from the King of Siam?
The written word is a gift that should be continually opened
Not quailed by the edicts in boardrooms where our voices have not spoken
We’re not buying this, the reader isn’t looking for that, they say
How would they know, their attention has not come our way
I am not just a ball player, a drug addict, a hooker, a joke
I know that I have something of value to say, for people listened when I spoke
I am more than a hustler, illiterate and gay
I speak with love, caring and authority, why do you dismiss what I say?
The value of my heritage is not yours to legislate for a dime
Give me what I desire to read, for what you push on me is a crime
Stop telling me who I am and who I should be
Come down from your ivory tower and deal with me
I be the one who writes the words that sing
I be the one who writes the words that soothe as well as sting
I be the one who writes the words that give hope for an expected end
I be not the one touting statistics of a predisposition to sin
I be the one who reaches into your soul to encourage you to walk in authority
I be not the one who suggests that you remain on bended knee
I be not the one to beg and plead to shine
I be the one who looks to the future understanding the destiny that is already mine.
So if I know this and come to you presenting my valid case
Who are you to deny my right by insisting that I stay in my relegated place?
A place where only the fast life, the prison, low-living and the sports court is what you want me to see
The sun is out of my eyes, I see so much more than that in me.
My place is where God sends me whether that be to the masses or a collective few
Your job was to guide me, to present me to the public as new
What I’ve come to understand as my anger subsides and my eyes see anew
I see that for now I cannot change your mind, for you are determined to be you
So you do you and I’ll do me
With or without your help if that is the way it must be
I will write the stories that uplift, educate and teach
I will do so in the spirit of excellence within my reach
Do not be fooled into believing that my reach is limited
My reach is as wide as God desires as long as I keep Him in it
In what you may ask and I’m glad that you did
The answer is simple, my purpose, my gift from God, via the vision that is His
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me
Rather than succumb to the limitations you place, but pretend not see
I cannot place all blame fully upon the practices you choose
You are addicted to the power driven by a system rooted in YOU
So in knowing what I know I must simply say
Today is the beginning of a brand new day
I return to a place where my understanding is not skewed
I will see through new eyes the panoramic view
I will write, I will learn, I will publish, I will market
I will take full responsibility for the gift in my pocket
My gift is of value it is woven in the heritage of my community
It is a place where we help one another, where ideas and practices are rooted in purity
We will write the stories of love and of grace
We will use the pen to indelibly champion the plight of our race
Our place is among the stars, in the boardrooms, kitchens, garages, wherever we choose
Our places were predestine, we were given a choice, with God on our side we have nothing to loose
Tonight as I reminisce about days gone by
I will do so with intension, no longer seeing through innocent eyes