Claudia Owusu

Come to the Edge

 

Mama

greets the sun like

he the homie from the block

she ain’t seen in awhile”

                       –Nasra Adem

 

I was born boiling

under the heat of a West African sun at 1:30 p.m

sweat pouring like bountiful rivers of

coconut milk at the beach.

 

I was born in an exchange

with a father whose one leg

remained in one country, and the other

in another.

pacing back and forth under the brim of world

cup tournaments      where national allegiance

came into play. I was born i n the womb of a

mother whose body symbolized sex

smooth   mocha

complexion sweltering like orange stones on

dirt paths–

resilient neck reflecting the

testimony of the sun within the kiosk of an

electric fanned hair salon–

 

her glory ended

and began there.

 

throngs of women  arriving with stories of

their men on their tongues. leaving with the

smell of pink oil and dark & lovely relaxing

creams conversing on the strands of their baby hairs.

 

I was born speaking in tongues, justifying

arguments with adults at the top of stairwells

throwing worlds like baited fish on the cracks

of my teeth. young girl–not quite young, been

here

before.

seven year old girl mimicking Mama’s sex

appeal because that is all she knows.

 

with mini skirts and bare back tops

and afro beats on radios under harmattan heat

 

it was all birthed anew on long car rides to kebab bars

with the smells of guinness bottles and marital violence

evacuating innocence.

Mama ain’t raise no innocent

Girl,

Mama raised the

 

Sea

 


 

Your mother; or All the Mothers that I’ve Ever Secretly Wished Were Mine

 

i fold myself into the corner of the four inch room

as you run your fingers over the seasoned piano like

the spirals on a 2 ply notebook. you tell me about your

mother–how she used to chug her warm beers seated

on a mahogany bench before the black and white beast,

the living room light growing small with each gulp as she got

really into Alicia Keys and cried–her emotions spilling out

of her chest like a tornado in a Louisiana storm/ seamless and rigid.

you say this and I peer at you, stretching my finger to the lines

of your forehead as you play / you don’t seem real and i fold

my arms into perfect creases on my knees as your music swells

over my head .

the heavenly

gates open and tears bloom out of my eyelids like freight trains

under the safe sheet of mourning,

my shoulders heaving

my sobs echoing

the ways in which I am sure angels lament their immortality.

you ask me if I am okay. you say that my laughter

the way it moves through sadness, hard and stable,

smiling
i say, this?
it’s nothing.


Claudia Owusu is a Sophomore at Otterbein University, studying Creative Writing. She loves the color mustard yellow, and just recently turned 20. She thinks the number itself looks pretty old.

Whitney Syphax Walker

Sometimes you grab an extra lovely sage bundle and smudge your home to clear it of negative energy, other times you say yes to a weekend sleepover with The Kid’s Bestie and let their combined laughter do the same thing.

-November 18th, 2016

 

As many of you know, I’m not working at the moment. I’m stuck in an uncomfortable (and familiar) waiting pattern: I’m waiting on unemployment to kick in, waiting to hear back from a few potential gigs, waiting on my lights to get shut off…you get it. Most days I drop the kid off at school and run around the city until it’s time to pick her up again. I’ve done a pretty good job of not letting her know how dire our situation is, but tonight…tonight I broke down. We were riding home from rehearsal and she began fiddling with this cute little pen I bought her a few days ago and snapped it in half. I snapped right along with it. I let it all pour out on her 12 year old little lap. She cried. I cried. I promised her we would be alright, because we always are, and I told her that this ain’t even the roughest patch we’ve been in. She apologized for breaking the pen, and in that moment it seemed like the tiniest, cheapest thing in the whole world.

We’re home now. Dinner has been eaten and she’s getting ready for bed. While checking off her chore chart, I noticed that she updated the rewards. $1, $2, and $3 has been replaced with “hug”, “kiss”, and “”one night in Mommy’s bed”. To “help out”, she says. Because “We’ll do it together.”

I think in the daily stress of stretching out the savings I have left, I forgot how very rich we are.

Anyway, I promised my child that we would be alright, and I keep my promises. Tomorrow is another chance. I’ll press my good dress and try it again.

-September 15th, 2016

 

Today, at Camp, a white boy who Zoë has been having trouble with called her a “little bitch”. She responded in a way that was strong enough for a camp counselor to tell me that there was an altercation, but Zoë is too ashamed to tell me exactly what she said or did.

This is when parenting a Black child becomes difficult. Zoë said that her new white friends all ganged up on her and took the boy’s side, and that she felt overwhelmed and afraid. I’ve been there. She said that she felt like she needed to defend herself because she felt alone and unsafe. I’ve been there too. This is her first time being in a predominantly white school setting so it’s

all new for her. I grew up in it. I understand the nuances of it. She wasn’t prepared. I didn’t prepare her. I feel partly responsible.

We had two conversations in the aftermath, one being your typical “Did you tell an adult/counselor/teacher what was going on?” conversation, the other a much firmer “Don’t ever let them knock you off of your square so hard that you lash out.” conversation. I explained to her that We can’t afford to lash out, that our consequences often don’t match theirs. I told her that her fear and defensiveness will often be dismissed as aggression, and that she can protect herself by checking in with a responsible adult after each act of violence and disrespect. I acknowledged her pain and anger and said that both were valid. I told her about the time in 4th grade at Shrine when my “best friend” of two weeks walked up to me and said she couldn’t be my friend anymore because I’m Black. How later that school year she spat at me and called me a nigger. How my brother tried to talk to her brother about it and how the boy made chimp sounds at him until he walked away. I told her how badly he and I wanted to fight, but how we knew we couldn’t because we’d be blowing our shot at attending the school that our parents were sacrificing so much for. Zoe and I then talked about how pain makes you want to fight sometimes, and how we have too much to lose to give into the urge.

Finally, at the very end, we had my favorite part of the whole talk. I promised that in exchange for her honesty and effort, I’ll always be ready to ride up there and turn that place out on her behalf. I thought that was understood, but I didn’t mind verbalizing it for her.

She still wants to finish camp, and she wants to attend this school for high school. I want that for her. We have two more years of preparation.

Woosah in advance.

July 14th,2016


Sai Wurd

“Not my monkeys, not my circus.”

my Aunt Barbara.

my momma’s best friend since 9th grade, and her guardian angel since 2014.

patron saint of cute shoes, betty boop and the refusal to take anybody’s shit.

Karen Ladson

“Ignore the ignorant, and the ignorance will fade”

“Find somebody you love, who loves you.”

Karen Ladson is a poet, performer, curator and youth mentor who takes great pride in using art to empower disenfranchised and underrepresented writers.

Maia Crown Williams

“Don’t worry bout the mule goin’ blind,… just hold the line.”

Maia Williams, also known as “Crown”, is executive assistant to many different businesses, artists, and events in the Metro Detroit area,as well as across the United States and abroad. Crown is also CEO and founder of Amonyet Enterprises, Midwest Ethnic Convention for Comics and Arts (MECCAcon), Cooking Ciphers,  The Cutaway, Black Speculative Arts Movement (co.founder), and Crown’s Royalties.  AMONYET ENTERPRISES is an executive assistant, event coordinating, and mass promotion company. Small Businesses, Events, Marketing, Authors, Musicians, Spoken Word/Poets, Artists, and more. “My main objective of everything i do is to strengthen, build, protect, and grow. I instill those in each and every business, event, and project that i sign my name next to. Our people will only rise when we learn to stand up. In order for our community to grow, we must BE a community.” Executive Assistant, Event Coordinator, Comic-Con organizer, Chef, Jeweler, and more, she is a ‘sistah’ with many crowns, and takes the size and fit of each one seriously.

Ryan Pearson

“Know when to hold and fold” (know when it’s time to open your mouth and when it’s best to keep quiet)

 

“A hard head makes a soft ass”

 

Me: it’s not fair!

Mommy: “I never told you life was gonna be fair, now figure out what’s next”

 

“Love comes from God. Don’t be afraid to love”.

 

Ryan was born and raised in Detroit, MI, home of Motown and the Motor City. She has been a Theatre Artist since she was 12 years old, and has been in love with different art forms her entire life. Ryan obtained a B.A. in Theatre Arts from the University of Michigan, recently completed her Master’s in Theatre Arts at UC Santa Cruz, and has worked professionally in arts education, Film/TV and Theatre. Ryan joined Performing Arts Workshop to combine her passion for the arts with crucial social justice initiatives; and believes that art is a learning, teaching and healing tool for all.

Outside of work, Ryan loves to read and write, is a major connoisseur of film/TV, and a coffee addict. She is also a proud, card carrying member of the BeyHive. Ryan loves celebrating Black culture, fiercely fights against ideals of antiblackness, battles systemic racism, promotes body positivity, and believes the children are our future; teach them well and let them lead the way. She currently resides in Oakland, CA.