Basic Math

Who Taught You How to Count?

Most people learn basic math by the time they are 8 years old. Unfortunately, those lessons do not follow them into adulthood. Nevertheless, we still have to explain what a “couple” is. 1+1=2. Not 3.

                       Basic Math

Where things ever okay? Did we ever come to a conclusion deciding our future together? I don’t think so. I mean where do you go after you’ve been betrayed? Lied to? Cheated on?

Do you sit and bathe in the disappointment and the hurt? Go and seek revenge? Do nothing? Forgive?

I’ll tell you what I did: I took a quick shower in the disappointment; washed my face of the hurt and sought revenge by waking up the next day. Forgiving him was finding strength in myself to move on.

See, we never needed to go back and find the solutions to our problems. You cheated, equated out the wrong answer and suddenly everything became resolved. The two of us could never be when you tried to carry the one and make it three. Basic math for yo ass.

By: Brittney Smith

Photo Cred: BasicxMathTwitter & Pinterest

 

Abstractly-Defined Artists Restore Humanity

Artists Restore Humanity

Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with both an old college professor and a local artist. Comparing both conversations I found some striking similarities; both came from backgrounds with troubled family dynamics which is arguably the foundation of every artist. Independently, yet simultaneously – they have taken their personal experiences and embedded them into ridiculous institutions [by way of teaching] with the objective being either to entertain or report possibilities in real-time.

Collectively, all three of us are teachers, writers, and visual artists; captivated by distorted truths attempting to integrate them with genuine realism. One believes the creative process is individualized with hopes of gaining perspective. The other is steadfast at creating safe spaces for P.O.C’s regardless of their gender identification.

The Professor who Restores Herself

I remember being a sophomore at Augsburg College and enrolling in Sarah Myers Improv Theater class first semester. One of our first assignments was viewing the stage play “Neighbors” featured at Mixed Blood Theater in Minneapolis. To be frank, the production blatantly and [to some] disrespectfully discussed racism. The show was so captivating I saw it nine times! As a young creative, I both intrigued by the artistry of the writers but also offended by the intolerable stereotypes that cowered over the actors.

The healing that Myers offered me as a young, Black woman has forever indebted me to her. For the first time, at 19, I had my first real conversation on race with a middle-aged white woman. Unbeknownst to me, then, Myers had her own share of discrimination by simply being Jewish. A bisexual Jew.

Sarah Myers, a native of Chicago, IL, and active professor at Augsburg College, utilized expressive are in her stage play, ‘I Do Today’. Myers, a self-proclaimed “Bi first – queer now” woman of Jewish faith said that writing the play was a healing process for her. She is an introvert and doesn’t share specific moments of the play publicly because, well – “people make assumptions”. Myers “draws from personal ordeals” with something she has a strong emotional connection to for her creative process.

Whether it’s in front of or behind the stage (she prefers to be behind the scenes) Myers battles with internal issues that would surely perplex her professional community. What are Jewish laws for being bisexual? Can you be bisexual and have a heterosexual marriage? That’s one for the theologians.

The Revolutionary who Restores the Culture

I had the pleasure of meeting Keno Evol 3 years ago in a kitchen, on the south-side of Minneapolis. Ganja blew on the balcony and hood politics discussed in the kitchen. A room full of Black people is so poetic; influenced by recreational substances harmoniously engaging in the most relevant conversation of their lives. 

Keno Evol is a local artist, performer, spoken word artist, dancer, and director. He spent 3 years in the foster care system as were his 8 siblings. Evol now sits as the founder and executive director of Black Table Arts, an arts-based organization centered on conjuring other worlds through Black art, connecting creatives and cultivating volume in Black Life.

He is also the founder of Black Lines Matter [sharing the same acronym as Black Lives Matter] a “writing arena where social politics meets the poetic”; centered on producing historical and contemporary protest projects by Black poets awhile building Black comprehension. An atmosphere that is “free to the public yet highlights and produces premium Black writing” is the mission. His personal goal is to “constantly hold a free space for us to invite more folks to the table, sharpen our swords and lead with love”.  *Black Table Arts meets bi-weekly on Saturdays from 6-8 pm at The Loft Literary Center Room 303

She Who Restores Life

After speaking with both artists I reflect on the times I did something creative to counter pain. It’s effortless to get something either over-the-counter or “under-the-table” to reduce the imposed upon melancholy. Artists are never normal because we are too complex like a contradicting oxymoron. Writing, however, keeps me sane, sober and solvent.

I recalling leaning on my pen more than my pipe to inhale forgiveness and exhale domestic violence, sexual violence, and low self-esteem. I’ve been molested, physically assaulted and raped. Uniquely, I have a tattoo, orbiting my ankle, that reads ‘Dance, Laugh, Sing’ – a daily dose of remedial acts.

As artists, where do we lie down our vulnerabilities when our audiences want silly little anecdotes about love and relationships. A reader once actually told me to write more about my romantic relationships. Perhaps if she knew what all I was still applying Preparation-H to she wouldn’t be so eager to exploit me all in the name of creativity. How ironic is it, though, that my personal pain cleverly disguised as creative works shall be the remedy for her ailments.

My responsibility as a creative is not just to honor humanity but dammit to restore it. Often times it is a tedious expense to invest in humanity but to give up would leave the wound uncovered. In the words of the Notorious B.I.G. “we can’t change the world until we change ourselves”. I say we can’t heal the world’s problems until we hear our own; the cure

is ART.

Photo Cred: augsburg.com, blacktablearts.com & Pinterest

 

 

The Games That Play Us

My heart and life are vacant but my bed never fails to be occupied;

he gets down, I turn to my side with his arms around me – a nice secure blanket woven out of lies.

Where is my pride, self-respect, and integrity?

Every day I remind myself that I a strong black woman and to stop letting these men get the best of me;

but these are cycles that have traveled down throughout my family tree

Endless stories I’ve heard of how men have mentally destroyed so many of my aunties

Listening passionately while they lecture that that’s not how love is supposed to be;

vowing as a child that this woman will never be me.

And yet…here I lay trying to break free

Stressed out and upset that I can’t find my King

Someone who can deliver mentally, emotionally, financially and physically. He can stimulate me, be intimate with me and show me new things.

Like damn – where is he?

Which path is right when you don’t even know where to start?

Can a sistah get a flashlight, a compass and a map where ‘X’ marks the spot?

Cause my eyes hurt from looking in the dark and my feet are tired of walking in the direction of a broken heart…

but how many frogs do I have to kiss before I become just another basic bitch?

How many heartbreaks is it gonna take for me to see that they can’t all be my prince?

Tired ass n*ggasthat serve game with a side of bullshit, cum quick, talk out the side of their necks and think with the head attached to they dick?

As I ease from under him I get into a position so that I can finally sleep with an optimistic heart and a peaceful mind cause see now I’ve realized that the only way I can see my husband is in my dreams because he damn sure ain’t laying next to me.

By: Brittney Smith

Photo cred: giphy.com

10 Things I Want to Say to a Black Man

 

10 Things I Want to Say to a Black Man

  1. Black Man; You are the most ingenious individual to take presence in the realm of the universe. Take a minute to reflect on what type of world we would be living in had it not been for your theories to correct, develop, innovate, refine and transform the world. The leadership that ripples through your veins is the equivalent to many that came before you. For when I look at you I see the power of your thoughts through your eyes like Martin, I read the dominance in your conscious mind through your smile like Malcolm and I hear the charismatic melody of your words through your soul like Barack.
  2. You are my best friend. You accept me for my puzzled state of mind and concentrate on what makes me incomparable.
  3. I need you to comfort me at times when I don’t know what to do with myself or who I am supposed to be for you. I cherish your confirmation in which your mind, body and soul belong to me. For you to reassure me that at every step in our journey that you are legitimate and that your desire for me is undeniable.
  4. I recognize your battle in which you endure every day in society. However it does not justify your actions. Be able to take your animosity and turn it into something delicate. Being a man does not indicate that you cannot show compassion or makes you less of a person with authority. There is strength in your delivery and there is nothing further you can express to me that would ever make me see you as less than what you are.
  5. Protection is what you mean to me. When I’m alone and have nowhere else to go or no one to turn to – you are there to shield me from the dangers and harm of the outside world. In your arms is where I feel the most sheltered. The potency of your frame and the compassion in your hands gives me everything I need to know that I will be okay.
  6. I commit my body, my heart, my mind and my soul unto you. I give you my life and would be forever grateful if I could have just as much of yours.
  7. I welcome you into my life and will never try to make you more than you are. When are with me I want you to feel as if you can be yourself and never feel like you need to compromise the individual on the interior for the cliché messages of the exterior.
  8. When your body communicates with mine – it’s something like enchanting. The command of your hands, the forcefulness in your thighs and the stamina in your heart keeps the sexual desires between us like no other I’ve ever known. Not another being can deliver the pleasure you give. Your movements take me to a place of euphoria and with every plunge you take inside, I feel our souls intertwine and as I progress into the galaxy of us it is that exact moment in which we become one. As you release yourself into my chambers and place that final kiss across my lips, it is then that you realize that you are at home.
  9. Can you do something for me? Can you promise that you will stop running away from things that you find difficult to deal with? Can you promise that whenever you feel the need to express your thoughts – you will come to me? When things seem to fall apart, address them and examine how you can make the best of the situation. The only feature I ask you do is take responsibility for the actions you construct. When he grows up one day and inquires where you are and why you left, do not make me the antagonist. I can illustrate how to treat a woman but I can never demonstrate for him how to be a man.
  10. The day you looked at me and made your way over as if there was no one else in the room except the two of us and asked me for my name, there was something in your hello that made me catch my breath and take notice of this king before me. When you talked to me your eyes stayed fixed on mine, never wandering over my body but rather trying to find the story within the deep brown that reflected back into yours. After the first date, you walked me to my door in the rain and right before I turned to go inside you grazed my hand and in that touch I felt an electric current that shot bolts from my brain to the bottom of my feet. You put your arms around my waist, I stood on my toes and from the moment our lips first touched – I knew it was love.
Photo Cred:pinterest