Every living thing wants to be loved
We need it like the lyrics in our throats when the beat drops
on our favorite song
like the natural way our bones jump
and our legs twitch
and our hands move about
and we dance
Every living thing needs to be loved
like dandelions in a field trying to convince the world
that they are not just weeds
We hope someone will care enough to watch over us
And not transgress our boundaries
Won’t severe our flowers from their roots
Won’t pluck our souls
From its skin
We do not need to be picked and fussed over
We hope only, to be loved
To be cared about while breath
Still feeds our lungs
Hoping someone will love us intentionally
Like the giggles of a child
Free, raw, and innocent
Hope to be as valuable as the swell
Of a woman’s womb
and the protruding belly that everyone wants to touch,
but no one does without permission
The delicate miracle we all want to protect
and we hope to be miracles too
a surprising welcome worthy of protection
because every living thing
wants to be loved
Since 2015, The Velvet Note has consistently been named one of the best Jazz Clubs in Georgia, and I have the honor of headlining its first Author/Word event. “Velvet Voices,” is a thought-provoking series of presentations by authors, historians and spoken-word artists and premiers on Wednesday, August 21, 2019, in Alpharetta, Georgia from 7:00-9:30p. The series will run from 8/21 through 9/25, and I am the opener for the first show reading excerpts from my Historical Fiction novel Renaissance: The Nora White Story. Some fantastic poets will bless the mic, and it is also an open mic for attendees.
Enjoy thought provoking discussion in an award-winning, beautifully-appointed listening room. I will have copies of Renaissance, and I am Soul on hand to sign. If this series does well, The Velvet Note will incorporate it into its regular program. Get your tickets NOW and let’s make history!!
If you have not already, please be sure to head on over to this post and check out Fiza Pathan’s touching review of I am Soul. I’ll be quoting her review throughout this post but reading it in full will help you add context to what I say here (there is also an audio version of the review on her blog).
“I have read many books and articles about the way a woman of color is treated in society, especially in Indian society. I have studied History and Sociology throughout my college career which gave me a lot of material to study about the situation of colored people in Indian society. But to be frank, I’m not that well equipped to talk or speak about Black American History or the Black American contemporary views on life, culture, society, history, politics, education, et al.” (Pathan, 2019)
Pathan is not the only reader to have confided she is not well versed in Black American History. People have told me on more than one occasion of their lack of extensive knowledge in this area. This does not surprise me. It is why writing on the experiences of Blacks in America is important to me. Like Paul of the bible, I am sent to the nations (Acts 22:21) to bring light to what America has tried to keep hidden for too long.
Americans underestimate how information is disseminated across the world. The news and the information we are exposed to in America is not necessarily the same information that is exposed to people in other parts of the world. Historically, news traveled through radios, television, books, and newspapers. What mainstream media wanted you to know is what you knew. If America didn’t want other countries to see how it treated Black Americans, those countries didn’t see it.
“I have started reading Black American literature in general after I turned 28 years of age in 2017, because of the poems and writings of Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, Alice Walker, James Baldwin and Dorothy West. Yes, you’d wonder where I was and what I was doing with my life, but the fact is that, all said and done, I have just begun to realize the richness and depth of the Black-American experience. ‘I Am Soul’ by Yecheilyah Ysrayl is one book among many that are educating women of color like me from far off countries like India, especially recluses like me, and I’m glad I am being educated.”
– Pathan, 2019
Today, Social Media is a significant catalyst for uncovering the truth about what Blacks have endured and the many businesses and products blacks have invented and how those inventions have been credited to other people. While we must be cautious not to spread disinformation (See this post here), there is still a lot of good that has resulted from the social media revolution. Information is coming out at a rapid speed of both the good and bad historical facts so that there is a desperate need of keen discernment. One such example is the testimony from notable black writers that Blacks could not eat vanilla ice cream in the Jim Crow south, and that they only allowed us to eat it on Independence Day.
“People in Stamps used to say that the whites in our town were so prejudiced that a Negro couldn’t buy vanilla ice cream. Except on July Fourth. Other days he had to be satisfied with chocolate.”
– Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
While visiting Washington D.C. with her parents around Independence Day, poet Audre Lorde’s mom wanted to treat her to some vanilla ice cream, but they refused the family:
“The waitress was white, the counter was white, and the ice cream I never ate in Washington DC that summer I left childhood was white, and the white heat and white pavement and white stone monuments of my first Washington summer made me sick to my stomach for the rest of the trip.” – Audre Lorde, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name
The “White Ice Cream,” rule is said to be more folklore than truth. But why? This is an example of a history hidden and then revealed because of the widespread use of Social Media. Prohibiting blacks from eating vanilla ice cream is not far-fetched, considering the pettiness of Jim Crow law. If blacks couldn’t swim in the same water as whites, it’s not so hard to believe they couldn’t eat white ice cream.
Fun Fact: The vanilla bean is brown and was cultivated and improved by an enslaved black man named Edmund Albuius. In ice cream, a small amount of vanilla is used compared to the other ingredients so that it still looks white (from the milk, cream, white sugar). If a larger quantity of vanilla is used, it would probably be more colored. Take these bars of soap.
“The soap above is scented with Vanilla Sandalwood Fragrance Oil, which discolors dark brown. The tan color will continue to darken over time.” – Bramble Berry, Soap Queen (3 days later, the vanilla in the soap turned it even darker…)
But let’s not digress. The point is, vanilla bean is brown, not white. Joke was on Jim Crow…
“While Jim Crow laws, extensively documented in print and historical record, are fairly well known, less well known are the unspoken etiquette rules for Black people, largely forgotten by anyone who didn’t have to live under them. During Jim Crow, Black people could pick up food at establishments that served white people, but they often could not eat in them. When custom demanded that Black people be served separately from whites, they were often required to have their own utensils, serving dishes, and condiments. So it was customary for Black families who were traveling to carry everything they might possibly need so that (with the help of the Green Book, the guide that helped Black travelers eat, sleep, and move as safely as possible) they could navigate America in relative comfort.”
– Mikki Kendall, Hot Sauce in her Bag, 2016
Black history has been just as raped and stolen and manipulated as her people. Black American History is more than slavery and Civil Rights, but slavery and Civil Rights is still part of that history and must never be forgotten. Black history is the birth of a nation, its upbringing, its captivity, and its overcoming. It is all of it. The good, the bad, and the ugly. We were not only slaves but also soldiers. Not only captives but also captains. We were/are a wealthy people, royal, smart, salt. We are seasoning and soil. But where were we born? How did we begin? What happened once we got here? These are the questions I seek to answer in my literature and articles so that the voices unheard in mainstream media can speak through me and prophesy the truth.
“‘I Am Soul’ to me is a book about being a part of a history that none can forget, but that slowly is changing the way we look at this race of people past, present and to a bright future, God willing.”
– Pathan, 2019
There is something special about the plight of the so-called Black American. What is to be revealed about these people stolen and transported to foreign lands in the bowels of slave ships? These people once stripped of their nationality and culture and are now returning to their natural heritage? Because of Social Media, this truth is easier to disseminate and verify. We have eBooks we can download in an instant, online journals and periodicals, and scholarly material at our fingertips. And we have Independent Publishing whereby artists can write and publish these truths without prejudice.
“Lastly, I would like to recommend this lovely and enriching book to everyone, irrespective of race, community, religion, caste and gender. I hope to review more books by Yecheilyah Ysrayl soon and hopefully, when I do so, I will be more capable of giving a more enlightened review as I will be reading more books about Black American history and literature in the future.” – Fiza Pathan
the sun coming in from someplace outside of itself
water pouring in from someplace outside of itself.
Some sonnets are crushed grapes
crumpled and left for dead
or did you not know that is how wine is made?
festered and developing into something worse.
Some poems are nearly dead
before they reach the light.
Or did you not know that is how Messiah rose?
from the grave
from the pit
from the earth.
When you feel that you cannot write
that your life is a laughing contradiction
thrown back into your face
a joke everyone gets but you
when your hands tremble with uncertainty
too weak to hold the pen
too fragile to unvirgin the page
Because not all poems are conceived in light
some of them, the best of them
are buried in darkness
and covered in dirt.
until suddenly, like a sprouting seed
a poem is born.
REMINDER: Don’t forget to preorder Keep Yourself Full in ebook below. Free with Kindle Unlimited.
Keep Yourself Full is a spiritual handbook that focuses on our return to self-love. It is a reminder that self-care nourishes the quality of our lives and makes us fit to be of service to others. Through my testimony, I give examples of how we self-abuse and how that differs from self-love, why it is essential not to take things so personally, why we must establish and enforce healthy boundaries, and how assumptions kill relationships. We learn that by investing in our well-being spiritually, physically, mentally, and professionally, we can be of service fully to others. It cannot be ignored that we treat others how we feel about ourselves. When we realize that what we do to others, we are equally doing to ourselves, we can use this awareness to heal. By treating ourselves better, we treat others better. Keep Yourself Full is about keeping ourselves filled with love and all that is good so that we are overflowing with enough to share with everyone else.
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.
The purpose of this year’s theme is to use words that empower and inspire us to be the best version of ourselves. We talked about Self-Love last year and now it’s time we spoke it into existence and live it through our actions.
Choose any one of these words to dedicate your poem to.
Strength, Courage, Wisdom, Faith
The poems submitted must be original work. This means that the poems must be written by you. If we find a poem that resembles any previously published poem in any way that poet will be disqualified from the competition. Poems must be your own work.
The poem must not be previously published in a book or anywhere online (including your blog)
The poems will be judged based on originality, writing, style and how closely the poem adheres to the theme.
We are judges of the competition only. All poets are welcomed to enter regardless of race, religion, political views or location.
*Poems using discriminatory language will be disqualified from the competition.
All poems must be written in English. In the event a poet wins this competition and their residence is outside of the U.S., any prize requiring shipping (if any) will be awarded in digital form. ex. ebooks /e-cards.
All poets must be at least 18 years of age to submit.
There is no entry fee for this competition, but you must subscribe to Yecheilyah’s email list HEREto enter. Anyone who subscribes only to unsubscribe beforethe competition is complete (any time before the winners are announced) will be disqualified for the win. Any subscription that has not been made before 11:59pm EST on August 1st will be disqualified.
Authors of the winning poems grant Yecheilyah of Literary Korner Publishing the right to publish the poems on her blog located at www.thepbsblog.com as the winning poem. Permission is granted upon entry of the contest for publishing to The PBS Blog. The poets retain all rights and copyrights of their own work. (I don’t own your stuff.)
Upon submission, poets grant Yecheilyah of Literary Korner Publishing the right to publish the poem in the Literary Korner Publishing 2020 Magazine Edition. The poets retain all rights and copyrights of their own work. (I don’t own your stuff.)
Multiple entries to this contest are allowed. If submitting multiple poems there is a 2-poem max per poet.
Entry is taken as acceptance of ALL of these guidelines.
Click on THIS link and subscribe to Yecheilyah’s email list. This will automatically give us your name and email address. *If you are already subscribed to my list you are halfway there! Just email your poem*
Once you’ve subscribed to the list, please send your poem(s) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Both of the above steps are needed for a poem to be considered submitted.
Winners are announced November 1, 2019 on The PBS Blog and across social media.
$50 Barnes and Noble Gift card
Publishing in the 2020 2nd Edition Literary Korner Publishing Magazine for Poets
Publishing and Author Spotlight Interview on Yecheilyah’s Blog (over 2800 subscribers, 70k views a week)
3 Runner-Ups (Wins everything minus the gift card)
4 Honorable Mentions (Wins publishing in the LKP 2020 Edition Magazine)
All entrants will have the chance of being featured in the magazine. Put your best foot forward, only a few will be chosen!
Yecheilyah (The PBS Blog and Literary Korner Publishing) are not responsible for poets who entered the contest and did not read these terms and conditions in full. If there is anything, you disagree with we encourage you NOT to join. Emailing your poem and subscribing to the email list is taken as ACCEPTANCE of all these terms.