Photo by Femi Matti | Words By Joel L. Daniels
Chain smokers do funny things with hands. Onlookers wait in line. White people snicker, “It must be for Jordans.” No. It is for a Badu concert. End scene. They might just brush past your shoulder with hints of slave whip juice still lingering on their tongues. Their thoughts will burn the ground whole and you will wonder why ya' mama ain't smile in a few days. Because America expects less of her because her skin colored Sanka coffee grain, Sankofa flavored, comes from a Diaspora where the sun and water kiss the bones heavy. Not surprised anymore by the comments that sit with the weight of a thousand nooses still hanging on college campuses.
You have been here, where the liquor can fill a room with memories entangled down below the bosom, fidgety fingers gripping clutches and purses on sidewalks, where they move across continents because the mere presence of your breath shifts the muscles in another's countenance. Ask them about their pride in their old traditions of manufacturing goods for a country where Made in Indonesia or China is more customary than body cams. They reminisce of good old days that mainly consisted of death by whistle as swift as the prick of an index by the blood lost in the sewing used with a thimble you kept in the bread line in the 30's.
You cannot clean your money. We did not learn from Contra. We did not learn from Iraq. Planned Parenthood terrorism shootings and San Bernardino is the vomit from the ancestors, maybe. Clean yourself.
The subtlety is in the way the body stiffens and sweats when too many of us are in a room yelling rap lyrics: nigger nigger nigger. You are not afraid to sing along now, we have allowed you room to be an appropriator. Content with being click-baiting content aggregates they made Nicki Minaj bend over in wax and they took pictures of her being fucked from behind by passerby, because look at us look at us we are to be watched from seats behind curtains in cages 4x4 the walls are high behind you always thank you America.
They offer you affirmative action and busing, and pick pocket and pilfer your rights. It is in form with what they have always done to our lot. It is mercury retrograde or too much mercury in your gentrified sushi sit down eatery you cannot sit-in here or sit with us spouting out of mouths. They are too mercurial; most will shoot you, mainly with bullets and less and less with words. I am so tired of writing the same things over and over again so overtly it hurts to open my mouth to it. So we chant and march and walk and plead and paint with pants soaked with red that could be Picasso paint primer for the loss. Silence is never this quiet.
Joel L. Daniels is a writer, actor, father, emcee and dreamer, and story-teller, born and raised in the Bronx. He was the recipient of the Bronx Council of the Arts BRIO Award for poetry, and his work has been featured in the Columbia Journal, The Boston Globe, Thought Catalog, The Smoking Section, Blavity, Huffington Post, BBC Radio, RCRD LBL, URB, BRM, AllHipHop, The Source, RESPECT, and HipHopDX. He's spoken/performed at the Apollo Theater, Joe's Pub, Rockwood Music Hall, Columbia University, The National Black Theater, NYU, Webster Hall, Pianos, and Brooklyn Bowl.