8.30.2014

the elephant.


i wrote a new slam poem. and it's very important that it's shared. disclaimer: i realize there is language in this video, but i am only repeating what people have say to/at me. even so, not everything is gosh golly goodnesses and oopsies. sometimes it's the N word. and yes, it has been directed to me.

Talk about how your friends laugh and say oh! You scared me. It was so dark I couldn't see you. Talk about how you were one of the last people found during games of hide and seek because you were so good at hiding in your skin. Talk about how that's not right. Talk about invisibility as if it's your duty because you're tired of other black girls asking why you so bougie. Talk about the ideas you won't use in this poem because you don't think they will improve the silence that has already hollowed out your soul. It's been seventeen years and I haven't spoken up for myself once. 

I used to tell my parents stories about how at swim practice Kyle or Preston would say something stupid and I would combat it perfectly, the air becoming a chorus of "oohs" and "you just got burns" but that never happened. Usually when someone said something insulting I would crack open a smile and laugh with everyone else, putting my head down as if I were an ass submitting to its master. 

My mom and I have had several talks about how it's okay to stop a conversation to speak up and let everyone know how I feel. With each opportunity I find myself withdrawing deeper and deeper into the caverns of regret. 

You see, when I was little me and all my friends from church used to have school together at the psalmist's house. I remember bible stories with our children's church leader and twix yogurt after lunch but mostly I remember being asked "Jocelyn, why can't you colour inside the lines? Jocelyn, why don't you write with your right hand? Jocelyn, you're not funny." We were less than five years old and I had already stopped talking. One of the biggest lessons I learned in my K-12 years was that if no one respected your voice, there was no pointing in using it. 

As I got older, the questions and statements changed. "Jocelyn, you can't be First Lady of the United States that's not a real job. Jocelyn, how can you not understand that joke? Jocelyn, no one else thinks Little House On the Prairie is cool."

When my mom began training me to become a leader, one of the first things she did was teach me how to speak publicly. She made me look her in the eye and recite poems that I had written, poems from the curriculum we were using. And I hated it because she made me laugh and I hated it because I didn't want anyone to give me reason why I was not welcome, or worthy. I still get nervous talking to bank tellers, I still get nervous talking to people on the phone, I still wonder if anyone wants to hear me speak or if their silence is a tired form of being polite. 

All during my high school career the questions got louder and louder and my voice became softer and softer. I am a freshman in college now and my mom cannot hear my voice even when she is sitting in front of me. 

They ask "Jocelyn, why do you dress like that? Jocelyn, why don't you like rap music? Jocelyn, why must you act so white?" They say "Jocelyn, you can't compose
music for the movies, that's what men do. Jocelyn, the only think black about you is your ashy skin. Jocelyn, you're just a knock-off nigger."

Someone once asked me why I couldn't just speak up for myself. I told them when an elephant is captured and taken from its home, the person who kidnapped it chains its feet to iron shackles at a post. No matter how hard the elephant pulls against it the skin breaks but the iron holds fast. After awhile, the master replaces the iron with a pile of rope and the elephant does not move. It is easier to be still than deepen the gashed about its ankles, it is easier to stay silent than to speak and be hurt is the process. 

"Jocelyn, why is your YouTube channel called joceeisawesome? I think that's a little conceited, don't you? Jocelyn, you remind me of the light, bright, and wannabe white people from the Tyler Perry films, you know, the ones who try to forget their roots."

I have been trying to make roots with my words but what good is that if I cannot so much as open my mouth? These wounds have been reopened so many times that no balm, no cocoa butter can heal them. 

My best friend says I'm soft-spoken. I've known her four years and she's gotten used to the lack of volume in my voice but the last time we where at camp, I expressed my annoyance about something and she jumped, saying "oh my God. I haven't heard you speak that loudly all summer."

I am seventeen years old and I have not spoken up for myself once. "Jocelyn, speak up I can't hear you. Jocelyn speak up I can't hear you Jocelyn, speak up I can't hear you. Jocelyn how do you spell that? Jocelyn I didn't expect you to have such a pretty name."

The reason I am having so much trouble sharing this with you is because when I transfer the written word to my tongue, I feel as though something is lost in translation, that if you actually listen to me you'll think it's not as serious or dramatic as I'm making it seem. But I am almost eighteen years old. If I do not speak now, I never will. 

I am not your nigga, your nigger, I am not a mat that you can just walk all over me, I do not wish to be white I wish to fulfill the promise God has placed in my life, I am a daughter of the most high who was stoned and persecuted for His words. Sticks and stones will break my bones but I will not be soft-spoken with my words anymore.

-kiss kiss kiss, ooh girl-

8.28.2014

gone to texas.


original photo

i used to think of college in shades of purple. i used to count the years and semesters until i'd move out of the house, leave my home and my friends behind. i used to be obsessed with the cold, and i still like it, actually. i used to want to have a condominium in the north east with floor-to-ceiling picture windows and white furniture, onlooking the busy streets of a big city. i used to want to get out like all my friends did. but unlike them, i never knew why. 

i came home last summer a changed girl. i hated the idea of traveling and leaving home. i think, as i started my senior year in high school, i was the only person i knew who wasn't keen on the idea of leaving when there was so much to stay for. before i left for music conservatory in june of 2013, i used to want to travel all over the world and i was into wanderlust and fernweh and things like that. i think it was partly because of the people i followed, and the way their followers influenced me, too. inadvertently disconnecting made me realize how i operated and what i wanted for myself. and now, i'm perfectly content walking parks in my neighborhood. i'm okay with staying. one of my favourite things is coming home. in fact, i just recently came around to studying abroad and going to other countries again. i think a vital part of my college journey was realizing i didn't have to do things just because everyone else wanted to. i think it was coming to treasure and understand the large piece of my heart home lives in. 

with all of that said, i started college on wednesday. the train was full and i was nervous as heck until after i had lunch with my friends. three people asked me if it was my first day and one told me there were snow cones at the gym. another told me my hair looked pretty. after awhile, it all became natural. there was no fear. and i think part of that came from not having to say goodbye to anyone. 

i used to think of college in shades of purple but when i woke up the sky was blue and orange. maybe that's a sign that things don't always happen the way i think they will. and as i told helayna, maybe that's a good thing. 

post-second day, and i can proudly say i love college. everything is going to be okay.

i love you all.

8.11.2014

because you are too precious to be left alone in the dark.

To Write Love on Her Arms

before i let you read this, i'm going to explain it. because i think it's worth explaining. so i'm starting college two weeks from tomorrow (or today, depending on how long it takes me to publish this post), and mom and i are doing some much needed organization. we've put a new desk in my room and a bookcase, and we cleaned everything off the floor and moved it into the office. the office already has a lot of stuff in it, but that's not the point. the point is, while i was cleaning i found several loose pieces of paper in the stacks of things i left next to my bed. it was dated april 5th 2013, which is, coincidentally, helayna's birthday. i started it at precisely 1:01am. and this is what it said. word for word. 

i make a lot of mental notes that i expect myself to remember even after long periods of time, and for the most part i don't. but the pieces to this fell into place so seamlessly it almost scared me. i wrote this for the person i would call my best friend. i didn't know who they were at the time (but i do now), and i think that's why this hits me the way it does. i cried when i read it because i remember how i felt when i wrote it. i felt lonely beyond words. and i'm posting it here for the girl who may not remember what the opposite of loneliness feels like. here is her secret, and here are my words. please understand that this poetry (but it's not even poetry tonight, it's my soul crying) is an interpretation of what these people are feeling. please understand that it is very real, and it is not always beautiful. loneliness is never beautiful, and no one deserves that. especially not this beautiful girl. i need to stop talking and let you read. if you don't read anything else on my blog that's fine. i don't mind. but this is important. 
"I sit in crowded rooms, surrounded by people. Nobody is alone or lonely because they all have someone to talk to, who loves them and they love back. They talk, talk, talk, overlook me. I am the only one without someone true to me, someone who loves me as much as I hate myself. I hate myself so much, so much that it explains why nobody loves me. It's hard to love this girl who hates herself. This girl that sometimes breaks her skin on those thighs she hates. Her thigh gap will never be good enough to her until it is the largest. Her thighs are her cutting board. But this girl has panic attacks over swimming because then people will see her thighs. This girl, with her eating disorder, who has always been thin, seems okay to everyone else. That is why they hate her. They think she is doing fine. She will quote them, here: "No offense, but I kind of feel as if you're using your eating disorder as an excuse. " No offense, what a lie. It's a mask to try and hide the cruelty, almost as sharp as her razor blade, but the mask is transparent. An excuse, oh sure. I just got a disorder so I could get out of gym class and go to the nurse. Right. I chose to ruin my life just to back up a point. And they wonder why I hate it when they make fun of disorders and don't know why I won't do them favors. Maybe if they hadn't made me hate myself I wouldn't punish myself. And I know this is just another published comment because I know I'm not worth listening to, let alone talking to. But a reply comment would literally make my day. People who talk to me astound me."
here's the thing:

i will not promise that i won't ever judge,
because i think it's my duty to distinguish what i believe is right and wrong.
but,
i will always have a landline available for you to leave hasty and fragmented (or long and analytical) messages (because i can't promise i will always pick up the phone).
but when i do, i will always manage to keep it pressed to my ear though i may be cooking, changing clothes, or composing on the piano. 
thing is:
i want to be there. i want you to be able to tell me your darkest & deepest secrets and your musings and rants. i want to be able to suggest methods of brewing tea (or coffee) and scriptures that will explain things better than i can. 
and i always want to have my key in the door, ready to shelter you from the literal or symbolic torrent of rain. 
i will slap you when you need it. 
i will tickle you when you least expect it. 
i will murmur song lyrics (but only those written by coldplay) into your arms that strain the underlying melody that i love you, even more than "keep calm & carry on" memorabilia. 
my hands are always ready to brush your hair back, straighten the hold of your button-down, cup and caress your face and travel the world (that is your back) with the wingspan of my arms as if to say --
i am not perfect.
you are not perfect. 
but i will let you in my door, i will feed you, i will find you, because you are too precious to be left alone in the dark. 

to the girl who is astounded by people who talk to her: i love you. i love you so much. i don't know your name or who you are but i can honestly tell you i love you, and i believe that you are so beautiful. you have been made by a God who loves you so much sometimes He is astounded. He didn't make anyone else like you. you are worth more than all of the nice things this world has to offer. and i believe you have a love in you that shines brighter than a star in supernova. you can do this. i wouldn't tell you that if i didn't know that. maybe you don't know that, but it's a learning process. and i'm willing to learn with you. you can always talk to me, okay? i'm right here. i'll say it again: i love you. i do. 

8.01.2014

the unforgotten frames.

there is nothing "forgotten" about these pictures. in fact, i want to remember them for a really long time. i just neglected to put them up. (which is so like me, by the way.) these are from my trip to michigan and illinois. i had a lot of fun. i don't know why i expected anything less.
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street music.
i still can't fully grasp my trip in words. i haven't been on a plane since i was fourteen, and even though that's fairly recently i don't remember it much. now that i'm older and i'm returning to places i visited as a child, my memory has been refreshed. and i now know why i love it so much.
i think the only reason i was afraid is because of what happened last summer. and sometimes it's okay to be afraid.
sometimes the best thing is finding out you don't have to be anymore.

-kiss kiss kiss, can i be close to you-
{pea ess: i would've included the polaroids, but i don't know how to upload them on my mac.}
{pea pea ess: by the by, if you haven't noticed, i'm home from camp. and i have things to say about it. i just don't know what yet.}
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