This week, we are featuring poet and author, Navi Johnson! Check out our exclusive interview here and read her poem, Archer, below…
Tired of the same old written reviews, I decided to make the review of the op-doc, Growing Up a Black Girl in America, one that would be inviting, fun and refreshing. In May, 2016, MMR! held it’s first event: Brunch & Banter: a discussion series. We watched and discussed the documentary (see the video above) and want you to join us in continuing the conversation!! Share the video on social networks, with friends and family and most importantly, never stop talking about issues close to home!!
Stay turned to mymelaninrocks.com and our social media pages for upcoming events, current news and positive views!
One of the most important inventions of my life, the internet, has brought many things my way: boyfriends, Amazon, Groupon, navigation, a discreet way to buy personal items … But one of the most important things that I have found on the world wide web is a community of writers, authors, poets and other creatives willing to share their gift with the world. One such poet, a young woman named Navi Johnson, and I connected via Facebook after I’d fallen in love with her poetry. I am a member of a writing group on Facebook where many of the other members feel like friends and family.
If you have not realized this, one of the most vulnerable things a person can do is construct a poem, essay, novel, etc. In it, you are giving your readers your imagination and your emotions. Because writing is such a personal artform, connecting with other writers forms a familial type bond. So, it should come as no surprise when I saw Navi’s first poem cross my path that I fell in love. I was enthralled with her voice, I considered her someone I needed to know. And because I am so infatuated with her literary presence in my life, I must share her gift with you all.
Continue reading below for an exclusive interview with Navi! And, check back each day this week as we highlight the poetry of Navi on MMR!
My website is currently under construction but my Instagram is ms._navi. People can also find all of my work by getting on IG and searching #soundslikenavi. You may also find my short story series “To Be An Eve” a black post-apocalyptic story about a young woman determined to repopulate the planet, on WordPress by searching soundslikenavi as well.
Being Black in America is hard as hell. Being a Black woman in America is indescribable. Somehow we manage everyday to wake up, care for our families, men, co-workers, pets, neighbors, neighborhoods and ourselves all the while working, cooking, cleaning, birthing, achieving, building, growing, praying and maintaining. We do all of this with confidence, beauty, compassion and control. The essence of a Black woman is so effervescent, unique and marvelous that we truly have no choice but to deem ourselves magical.
Indeed, we are magic. We pull off the impossible in the face of the unbelievable everyday. But, that does not mean that we don’t still need to be reminded of the beauty that we hold on the inside and out. This effortless, breezy, carefree appeal does not come without work, tears, strength, unlike any other.
Black womanhood is fascinating and celebratory but our everyday lives detract from this. We live in a world that is marked with negativity, injustice, deterioration. This is not to say that the silver linings do not exist, just that sometimes, we have to search harder for them. Like a needle in a haystack, or whatever other cliche you might like, it can be burdensome finding the positivity and upliftment we need to continue on. In a time where simply existing can feel exhausting, the short film, Dear Black Girl, is a dose of truth and feel-good that we need.
Created by Nikia Phoenix, Dear Black Girl is a “short film celebrating the beauty of black womanhood.” The 2 minute film gives us visuals of four beautiful black women – Nikia Phoenix, Eromomen, Jana Hatcher and Myra Hasson – doing what Black girls do best: being beautiful. In the background Nikia recites a celebratory love poem that reminds us all that we are created from love, to be loved and are beautiful.
Black women, we are enough. We are beautiful. We are loved.
This has been a hard week.
It’s been filled with so many emotions for me that I barely know how to start.
I want to touch on some positive notes though before I return back to my feelings.
This week we celebrated the 28th birthday of our girl, T. Simone. I’ve been friends with T since 2013 and she is one of the people in this world that knows me best. Jas and I really wanted to do something fun to celebrate her birthday. So, we threw a 4th of July cookout that was more about her birthday than anything else. We had tons of food, hella drinks (again, I made punch and it was bomb) and a bunch of friends and family. We kicked off our week on a high note, celebrating the life of one of our dearest friends.
Then, the days dragged on. It was time to return to work, school and real life. I took a day to recuperate and hang out with my girls. I volunteered at church and spent another night with my friends to bring in T’s actual birthday (7/7). But the most poignant memory from this week is of the tears that I shed in memory of two black men that had been slain by, you guessed it, police.
Videos climbed up and down my twitter timeline, I avoided them at all costs. But I read the details, as much as I could handle. I read about Alton Sterling and Philando Castile; two men that will never ever celebrate another birthday.
I read, I cried, I took breaks. I tried to take my mind to other places, but I couldn’t and I cannot.
I now sit in a suburban Starbucks, donning a shirt that proclaims that I am “Young Creative and Black” attempting to hold back tears as I recall hearing the video of Philando as it played on Jas’ phone. I refused to look at the phone and watch a man die. But I heard the frantic cries of his girlfriend as she was forced to watch something I cannot even bear to imagine. I heard the tears of his child coming through her live feed and I still cannot let go of the terror.
So, here I am, sitting here, surrounded by people going about their business wondering what in the hell there is that I could fucking do to make any of this better. And, I keep coming up empty. Everyone has a solution but none of them have worked. Because year after year and day after day, we fix our thumbs to type another hashtag. We wipe tears of pain, frustration and sadness from our eyes. We pick up our own personal swords and fight to survive daily. We admonish those around us to acknowledge the brutality going on around us. We comfort the men, women and children in our lives and communities. We move forward through each minute and day as if these events have no affect when truly, we all have some form of communal PTSD. We cry, shout, march, protest, plead and demand. Still, nothing.
The murderers of our children receive slight discomfort and pats on the back. Perhaps they are heckled on the streets or are forced to live with the nightmares that they have caused. But, there is no true justice for the children that have been slain in the name of nothing.
We get all of the pain, all of the suffering, all of the turmoil. We hold it on our shoulders, you can see it in our watery eyes. We hold on to it, we carry it with us like a badge – something that could be overlooked but is always there. We carry the burdens that have not been created by us but forced upon us. And still, somehow we get our asses up and continue to live life.
We are somehow stronger, prouder, more focused with each tragedy. We continue to be resourceful, resilient and magical. I suppose that is at least one victory that I can count.
In this world of talents, passions, gifts and dreams, each of us have something to offer to the world. Yet, each of us has it to offer in different and unique ways. For every Beyonce, there is an Ameriie. For every Ameriie, there is an Aunt Cathy. Each of them have something to offer but not in the same way. While Aunt Cathy and her booming alto tears the house down at every family reunion, Ameriie plays the House of Blues. While Ameriie is lighting the HOB on fire, Beyoncé is ripping up stadium stages for tens of thousands. This is no shade to the Cathy’s and Ameriie’s of the world, this is just to say that within our respective areas of gifts and talents, we all have a lane to stay in.
The reason many of us feel that we aren’t excelling is because we are trying to move in and out of everyone else’s lanes rather than staying in our own. This does not mean that your lane is any more or less important than the next persons’ but we each have a lane of our own to occupy. If you are not occupying your own space, you are leaving are really huge hole in the universe; a void unfulfilled that can only be filled by you and your gifts.