Negroes are born
they are boys despite age
Negroes are sign language
using symbols to communicate
born without land
what King referred to as
they are sojourners
wandering from person to person
in search of themselves
Negroes are born
their umbilical cords
their screams muffled with injustice
their bodies sold
and bellies stuffed with lies
Negroes bleed death
and cannot recognize their own corpse.
But we are not Negroes.
We are soil and Earth
lips that sing
mouths and song and praise.
We are bodies and flesh
veins and blood and salt
We are salt
of the Earth.
We are crowns and rubies and pearls
eyes and nose
vision and smell.
We are scripture and fire
and dripping honey
We are blood, teeth, and bone
We are people
brave. proud. strong.
But we are not your
I want my truth
I want customs and traditions
without being conditioned
I want unconditioned
I want my stuff.
I want my Kings and Queens
my silver and my gold
I want my laws and commandments and my stories
I want do-overs
for how we’ve been done over
I want my children re-educated
Give me raised fists
and two-parent households.
I want functioning Black family units,
Afros, Black power, curly hair
and I want my cocoa butter skin.
I want credit for all my skills.
I want my midwives
I want my tribes
I want my inventions before you re-invented them.
I want Lewis Howard Latimer
not Thomas Edison.
I want my covenants renewed
I want my 40 acres and a mule.
I want my land rich as I left it
I want my spirituality accepted
I want my names changed back
I want my Proverbs and freedom songs
and I want my Moses Black.
I want what you stole from me
I want King Solomon Black and comely.
I want it all back.
Today, I’d like to welcome Khaya Ronkainen. Welcome to The PBS Blog! Let’s get started.
What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Khaya Ronkainen. I was born and bred in South Africa, and I now call Finland my second home.
South Africa in the houusee. What was your childhood dream?
To become a teacher. I have huge respect for teachers. I talk this, and also the reasons why I never took up the occupation after all, in the “About” page of my site.
Nice. We’ll be sure to link that below. In your own words, what is humility?
Humility is not a low opinion of one’s self but an awareness that there’s always room for improvement, even if one is confident in their abilities and skills/talents.
Absolutely agree. Who’s your favorite Historical figure?
Nelson Mandela, because he gave me a voice. Most people are aware of apartheid system and its laws that prohibited many things in South Africa. For those who do not know what apartheid is, I suggest a read that sheds some light on the nature of racial injustices at the time, Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton, a South African author. I read somewhere that if one wants to understand a country, they must read its authors. So I hope you’re inspired to pick up the book if you’ve never read it.
Awesome. What is the most thought provoking book you’ve ever read?
Animal Farm by George Orwell. It’s the first influential book I read that showed me the power of a written word, and opened up a whole new world. I have to thank my English teacher, Mrs. Roos, during my high school years. She knew how to activate young minds and keep them engaged through literature.
Loved Orwell’s 1984. What’s the most difficult thing about being a writer?
It’s often difficult for me to describe what I do to people who don’t write or create in any other form. Because what I do, writing, largely depends on an exaggerated inspiration or the elusive muse that holds me hostage, but with no promise of real money.
The most exciting thing?
Dreaming stories into being, that is, the gift of imagination.
You said, there’s no promise of real money in writing. With Indie Publishing being as successful as it is these days, do you think that’s changing? In what way can we improve how writers are paid?
Certainly, there’s no denying the success and benefits of indie publishing; total creative control, higher royalties, supportive indie communities, and so on. More importantly, indie books are doing well as traditionally published books, when it comes to e-publishing, in some genres.
When I talk about no promise of real money, I’m not speaking for all writers but my own writing, which is mostly poetry. Let’s face it, poetry is a difficult genre to sell. My observation is that people love poetry or at least, the idea of poetry, but are not so eager to buy poetry books.
We also know that no one goes into poetry for money. Poets still have to hustle and take regular jobs in order to earn a living. So, perhaps, I’ll rephrase your question, “In what way can we improve how writers are paid?” with “How can we support poets, as readers, and stop undervaluing their work by expecting to get it for free?
As you can see, I’m passionate about this topic. But I’ll stop here.
No, keep going! I love the passion and you are absolutely right. While no one should “poet” for money, no one should do anything else for money! You shouldn’t embrace any path for money specifically and yet we must eat. Looking at it this way, why is poetry or writing…why is Art in general, not expected to be profitable? Something to think about.
I suppose I don’t have to ask what genre you write in…
Poetry, because I like its brevity and the immediacy it creates. Fiction (semi-autobiographical works) because I like to blur the line between fact and fiction. I’m also a horror genre “visiting writer.” As a matter of fact, I’ve recently published my second poetry chapbook, a small collection of dark poetry.
Outside of writing, what are some of your passions?
Nature is my playground and a playmate, my husband. Seriously, I do all sorts of outdoor activities, and I draw huge inspiration from nature.
I can see that about you! Beautiful. What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?
Taking a sabbatical in order to go backpacking through Asia.
Thank you Khaya for spending this time with us. We enjoyed you!
Khaya Ronkainen is an independent author, writer, poet, public speaker and many other things. She currently lives in Finland with her husband.
Her work often examines duality of an immigrant life, cultural identity, relations among immigrants, and nature. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, Seasons Defined and From the Depths of Darkness, both available at Amazon Kindle.
She is currently at work on her debut novel about growing up in South Africa during apartheid era. Learn more about the writer and her work or connect via her blog at www.khayaronkainen.fi.
This is the time of the year where we step back and analyze where we are and where we want to be. The time where we consider if the goals, we set at the beginning of the year have been realized and if there are any changes or improvements that need to be made. This is also the time of the year when I share with you the lessons I’ve learned from the year. Usually, I do this closer to the end of the month but my family is moving so things are busy around these parts. Last year, I had an entire list of lessons learned. This year, I only have one.
December is when I do a lot of reflection. An entire year has passed. What changed? What remained? What needs to be added onto or removed? 2018 has been filled with amazing growth for me personally as well as professionally. At the end of 2017, I was celebrating my move to Georgia and one of my books in a brick and mortar bookstore. At the end of 2018, four of my twelve books are in three bookstores and I’ve just purchased my first home. I attribute this to learning one valuable lesson. A lesson that I do not think we ever stop learning but that gets easier the more we love ourselves, a lesson that I’ve learned and that I will keep learning, a lesson that has changed my mentality and thus also, the way I do things. To further illustrate this point, let me first tell you about an experiment.
The Asch Conformity Experiment
Named after Solomon Asch, the Asch Conformity Study was meant to study conformity in people (how we behave according to other people’s desires and standards) and was conducted in the 1950s. The participants were shown three lines on a piece of paper and a fourth line. The participants had to simply match one of the three lines with the fourth line. Most of the people were accomplices in on the study with only one or two real participants. According to the study, 76% of participants picked the wrong line after the majority of the room picked the wrong line. The study was groundbreaking in studying conformity in groups and has been repeated many times throughout the years. (You can find examples of the study on YouTube.)
As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to fall into conformity by doing what everyone else is doing in an effort to achieve success. The problem is, entrepreneurship is about authenticity and there is nothing authentic about conformity. Everyone wants to be an influencer. The only question is, what are you influencing people to do? Who are you influencing people to be?
We talk about embracing being unique and different but at the same time, we secretly want a seat at the table. At the same time, we don’t really want to be different. We want to be like everyone else because not being like everyone else comes at a cost that we are not courageous enough to pay. It is the cost of standing out instead of standing in. It is the cost of rejection and being misunderstood. It is a beautiful sacrifice that many of us, despite what we say, are not willing to make.
But you can’t want to be like the world and be different from the world at the same time. Either stand for something or fall for anything.
In the midst of the Kevin Hart situation, I think it’s important for us to all remember how important it is to be ourselves and to stand on our own integrity. And if we must influence, I hope it is to influence others to be undeniably and unapologetically themselves.
I. The biggest lesson I learned 2018 is to be fully myself even when who I am is not accepted by others. There are people who will think I’m foolish about certain decisions but it is my decision to make and my lesson to learn. I’ve learned to trust Yah more and to trust his will for my life. To make decisions without explaining myself or feeling the need to defend my position.
…and I hope the same for you.
What I enjoy most about being an Independent artist is the freedom to produce work that speaks to who I am, to not have to pull back, slow down, or sugarcoat my beliefs because of someone else standard. The right and the freedom to live freely in every sense of the word. To be true to myself, to my authenticity and do not have to apologize for it. I don’t have to tap dance around the truth for a check, I don’t have to scratch my hair unless it itches, and I don’t have to laugh unless something is actually funny. I’ve never been part of the “cool kids table” and I am not about to start now. This is freedom.
I hope you walk into 2019 not afraid to shine or to fail, understanding that both experiences shape you. It can be liberating to choose yourself, armed with the power to move forward without guilt, without arrogance, and without pride but with a deep love for yourself that is so strong that you can quickly realize when anyone or anything devalues you, even if that someone is your own self. The biggest challenge is not the war we fight with others but the war we fight with ourselves. To quote the African proverb, “when there is no enemy within, the enemy outside cannot hurt you.” Kill the enemy within. Slay your demons, silence the doubt, and walk free.
dip me in chocolate-covered rhyme
like the color of my skin
a young woman once drowning now lives on the shores of truth
sweating similes from her pores
a fresh coat of passion that shines something like melanin
can I scorch you with radiance?
breathing inspiration like oxygen
singing compassion, smoking lyric
and sipping on rhythm slow like the stride of a black man
the crackling compasses beneath his footsteps
clutching couplets like purses confused
by the uncertainty of his smile
the sugarcoated twinkle in their eyes
or the question mark in her walk
her hips sway
like six children, no man, and give up
but I got this mouth full of simile
this fist full of irony
this metaphor-shaped voice in my throat
a delicate coating of poetry to wash away the broken
so let me cocoa butter your heart into the palms of my hands
be Vaseline to your ashy and together
we’ll bind the broken wings of peanut butter,
and milky way,
and dark-covered freedoms
like the colors of poetry
on my skin.
First, I want to say that Birth of a Movement is a good documentary on Netflix and is the inspiration behind this post.
We are familiar with the name W.E.B. Dubois but I do not hear much concerning William Monroe Trotter and that’s a shame. While I do not agree with his dissension with Booker T. Washington (I admire Washington, obviously), I do admire Monroe’s drive to stop a movement that ultimately led to a resurgence and second wave of one of the most terrorist groups in America, The Klu, Klux, Klan.
William Monroe Trotter was an African American newspaper editor and real estate businessman in Boston, Massachusetts born on April 7, 1872, in Chillicothe, Ohio. Raised in Hyde Park, Boston, his father, James, was a writer and former civil rights lieutenant who worked in real estate. Trotter excelled in academics growing up, becoming his predominantly-white high school’s class president and attending Harvard University in the early 1890s. He was a friend of W.E.B. Dubois who also attended Harvard alongside him. The friends graduated in 1895, the same year that Booker T. Washington delivers the famous 1895 Atlanta Compromise Speech.
Trotter was an early activist for Black Civil rights and produced similar Civil Rights results in 1915 as that of the 1960s marches. He was an early opponent of Booker T. Washington (sigh… I just think Booker had a point but whatever), and in 1901 founded the Boston Guardian, an independent African-American newspaper, as a vehicle to express that opposition.
In 1905, Trotter joins W.E.B. DuBois in founding the Niagara Movement, the precursor to the NAACP. However, Trotter did not agree entirely with the organization. The NAACP’s top officers were white men and it only made sense to Trotter that the National Association for the Advancement of “Colored” People is run and operated by “Colored” people. It was not. The NAACP was founded by Jews and ran by the same. For this, Trotter decided to part with the organization. Instead, he founded his own organization called The National Equal Rights League. He also co-founded the Boston Literary and Historical Association (the oldest nationwide human rights organization founded in Syracuse, New York in 1864 dedicated to the liberation of black people in the United States) with colleague George Forbes and established The Guardian newspaper. The publication pushed for Black equality.
Trotters most famous acts of Civil Rights is his stand against David Wark Griffith’s, landmark film, The Birth of a Nation, a racists play turned movie by author Thomas Dixon. Originally called The Clansmen, the book turned play became a massive bestseller. It also had the endorsement of The White House as it was screened at the house and praised as “History as Lightening” (Wilson).
Trotter began a campaign against Dixon’s play turned film when it opened in Boston in 1910, which portrayed the Ku Klux Klan as heroes. While his protests succeeded in closing the production, The Clansmen changed its name to The Birth of a Nation and in April 1915 was scheduled to open in Boston. Trotter rushed back to lead protests against the film. In April, the Tremont Theatre was denying African American’s admission, to include Trotter. When blacks refused to leave the lobby, plainclothes police moved in, sparking a fight. Trotter and ten others were arrested; other protests took place both inside and outside the theater. It resulted in a mini-riot. Trotter, united with other African-American community members, could not get the film banned in Boston. Interestingly enough, Booker T. Washington dies later this year, November of 1915 in Tuskegee Alabama.
The KKK had a revival for a decade after 1915, especially in industrial cities and the Midwest. In 1919, Trotter appeared at the Paris Peace Conference in an unsuccessful effort to have the organization outlaw racial discrimination. But, in 1921, Trotter was successful in shutting down new screenings of The Birth of a Nation in Boston. He also led demonstrations against events, plays, and films that glorified The Ku Klux Klan. William Monroe Trotter died on April 7, 1934, in Boston.
Far as finances is concerned, it’s still unknown exactly how much The Birth of a Nation grossed, but it did very well in sales. D.W. Griffith is still recognized as the man who pioneered modern cinematic techniques with his use of advanced camera and narrative techniques. Griffith is also one of the founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and popularized the use of the close-up shot and his skill is still taught in film school. Meanwhile, in the 1920s, his film The Birth of a Nation continued to spark a resurgence of the Klu Klux Klan, which produced a second wave in Atlanta, Georgia, inspired by the film. This terrorist organization would go on to terrorize millions of blacks over the years.
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Inspired by Maya Angelou who said that love liberates, today’s podcast speaks about how freeing it is when you know yourself enough to love yourself and to be yourself. In this, you are not just liberated from your own personal demons but also the negativity around you as well.
Listen to Love Liberates and be sure to subscribe for notification of new episodes.
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Also I’d like to thank everyone who have been actually clicking on the links and listening. Thank you.