Dead to Me.

Holding a funeral for somebody I used to know. Not because she’s dead, but because she met a dude whose insecurities won’t allow her to talk to me at all. This has happened before with another friend, and I always wonder what one must be thinking to choose insecure, insane like-love over a friend.

There is nothing you can do to make an insecure person secure. Nothing.

Her boyfriend has:

  1. Gone through her social media accounts and blocked me without her knowledge.
  2. Created a fake Google Voice number and text her as though he was me to make her think I was crazy.
  3. Called my phone over and over from the same number, just breathing into the phone.
  4. Stalked my social media pages.
  5. Added my friends on social media, asking them questions about me and her.

She loves him, though. So she must be dead to me. Funerals are hard. I’ll miss my friend.

We Pay The Same Amount For College?

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*I felt like ranting after a conversation with a friend. My fingers typed and my brain tried to keep up. I mean everything here, I just hope it came out properly. I refuse to reread and edit. *

Here we are in high school with all these forces and powers in our face telling us how important it is to continue our education once we finish here. They’re right, after all. Continued education is a must for anyone who wants to get free [from whatever is binding]. Continued education does not have to mean college, after all, many dummies graduate from college. Continued education is a dedication to lifelong learning, and open mindedness. In this moment, though, let’s make it exclusively mean going to college.

Here we are in high school and these forces are telling us to aim high, make all goals lateral. College is how we are going to achieve these goals. Here go the brochures coming in, and smack dab in the middle of the cover is a face that looks like it could be related to you. Here comes FLOTUS cheering you on, and here comes her husband and his ticket mate, cosigning. Hit the switch on your TV and you’ll see all the commercials of companies that are ready to help decorate your dorm room and your apartment, and ready to help your parents turn that spare space that used to be your bedroom into an office.

Everyone is excited for you, but no one is talking about the elephant in the room or the unleveled playing field she’s standing on. No one’s talking about how college is still a fairly new concept for us, and while some families have been saving for generations to make sure Meredith and Gregory make it to the Ivory Tower, some families are still trying to make ends meet because of the systematic racism that so damn hard to escape.

If no one is denying the playing field is uneven, why must we pay the same amount to play? If the powers and forces that are in our face are not willing to publicly say “everyone here has the same opportunity from birth to death” with a straight face, why are they allowed to say “tuition is $50k a year for each student?”

Keisha (black) talking about going to the same college as Meredith (white) is exciting and simultaneously scary for Keisha’s mom and dad because they haven’t been afforded the same opportunities as Meredith’s mom and dad in this small Virginia town where racism is still so prevalent.

Here’s Keisha again, packing up that apartment she’s stayed in for the last 3 years, and ready to move back home to look through the classifieds. She had a few internships and summer jobs, but none in her field. She still keeps in touch with Meredith who, because of the connections her dad made at this same college while he was a student, interned and is now working for Goldman Sachs, her dream company.

Let’s pretend Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act of 1968 put an end to racism. If you’re willing to tell me that Black folks, as a whole, after 349 years of being tremendously lower in ranking than the powers that be, made up for lost time in 48 years, I will gladly send my people to your schools. However, if you cannot admit that, then FEES MUST FALL for these kids you keep pushing to fill your classrooms while their parents are trying to figure out how to keep them there daily. These kids who are the grandchildren of those who were promised stretches of land from South Carolina to Florida, but never received more than a turned back and bitter face. These Black kids who jaunt into Financial Aid offices and are offered loans from the government, knowing that because of that same government and its oppressive nature toward blacks for centuries almost guarantees this loans will never be paid back in full. Financial slavery.

Because of racism’s perfect structure, the playing field in the United States will never be leveled, therefore, neither should these fees.

Ideally, I’d love to send a group of 50 recent high school graduates to college, all majoring in something different. Equip them with cameras and recorders for 4 years. Take all the material, and use it to teach the people in a free university. Education must be free! Until it’s free, we aren’t.

To You: Whoever You Are Now

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To You (Because I came so close to sacrificing my inner freedoms for you) –

The hardest part of this is not us not being together. That much I’ve learned to deal with from the many dissolutions behind me. It’s knowing everything has become undone. You’ve come undone and you’ve become fine with that.

You found a man to love you like your mama loves your daddy, like your brother loves that girl that doesn’t love him in return, like you wanted me to love you. He loves you for who you are. It’s what you’ve wanted since you were 13 because it sounded amazing when Carrie Bradshaw preached it, and in every book aimed at girls that age and older. He loves the you you were before I came along to fuck you up; before I came along and had you sitting on stairs outside at 3am, scattering stories about emotional moments in a land far away with your best friends, what you love most about the room you left behind in that house your daddy built on that old country road, and your real dreams, not those dreams you’ve been sharing with people since college graduation. He loves you, and I love that. You look happy when you’re loved, and although I never see your face anymore, I’m sure it’s still just as pretty.

I couldn’t love you for who you are because you showed me who you truly wanted to be, and I loved her more.

I rooted for her, and I fought for her harder. I gave you that pill to bring her out, and sadly, I sat there and watched you riot. Fearful, you fought her. I was scared to. Did I tell you that? I was never able to tell you I hoped you lost that fight. The woman I met on the stairs that night was happier, and her eyes were bigger when they looked at new things. She ran down her fantasies, gave birth to ideas, and wrote poetry fit for shelves. Her walk was swift and she slept with her legs twisted around me like some sort of noose. She spoke with intention and finished all her cereal. She was lovely, and damn, she was mine. I loved her and was unsure how to love you anymore. That’s what happened to us.

I say all that in case you ever sit and listen to him tell you how much he never wants to change you because he loves you “just the way you are” and you wonder what I’m doing and why we didn’t work.

me

A Birthday. A List of Regrets.

A Birthday. A List of Regrets. from Darnell Lamont Walker on Vimeo.

Another year gone by, and Reasonable Doubt is almost 20 years old. Jay-Z says:

This is the number one rule for your set
In order to survive got to learn to live with regrets
On the rise to the top many drop, don’t forget
In order to survive got to learn to live with regrets
This is the number one rule for your set
In order to survive got to learn to live with regrets
And through our travels we get separated, never forget
In order to survive got to learn to live with regrets

I’d rather not live with them, so I wrote them on the back of a flier, and sent them up. What a great 34th birthday I had.

Rape is Rape: Calling Things By Their Proper Name

“Rape is a more heinous crime than murder since the rape victim dies throughout the period she lives.”

The Starbucks I tell people is on 7Th Ave South but is really on Grove Street in The Village is where I was when I found out my friend was raped. I hate that it was here, because it’s the Starbucks where shitty kids steal earned belongings from half-decent people like me when we ask the neighboring table to keep an eye on them. So now, not only am I grieving for my friend, I have to keep my eyes clear enough to see these thieves.

Fuck it, I figure, let the tears come.

My friend was raped in the front seat of a car by a boy she trusted enough to give her a ride home from the movie they watched and laughed at together. I could have taken the 1 uptown, walked a couple blocks, hopped on the D, and been at her door within two hours, but I could only sit there and think about what must have been going through her head when she grew tired of fighting back and finally figured it was better to let him finish so he could kiss her goodnight and not understand where her tears came from. He didn’t understand. He thought they were born in joy.

After all, she did accept the ride home, and she did flirt back, and she did kiss him, and you know how women are always playing hard to get. She wanted it, right? These tears are joyful tears. I imagine she played the conversations with her best friends and parents and cops and doctors over and over in her head, and after she spoke, they would all ask the same question, “So what did you do to cause it?” or “You should have known better.” In each scenario in her head, she takes the fall.

I kept reading with tight fists, wishing she knew to find him now. She goes on in her story about her life after him. I’m waiting for part where she brings in the cops. I’m reading faster because I need to get to the part where she tells her father. I imagine me as the father of a daughter who’s been raped. I imagine there being no known force to remove my fingers from inside the rapists’ chest. I have a son, and I would do the same for him if he’s raped, but that fear doesn’t come into my everyday thoughts. I read on, never finding satisfaction.

She kept living because she didn’t know how not to. She kept breathing, and showing up at practice, and attempting to trust and love and kiss boys who she’d never tell about what happened that night. She didn’t know what else to do but go on.

In the years that followed that story, more friends have shared their stories with me. Strangers have come and sat with me, inboxed me, and simply stopped me on the street to talk about what happened to them. Rape happened to them. A society that asks women to keep the semen in their vaginas and on their pencil skirts and in their hair until the police eventually arrive happened to them.

Sexism happened too, and it’s being fed and nurtured by the crusaders against racism. It’s tricky that way.

Last week I stopped at a little bookstore in Burlington, VT and bought my first work by Pearl Cleage, “Deals With The Devil. And Other Reasons To Riot.” I fucked up and should have left it where I found it. She writes about her days on the Hilltop at Howard, having her feet and hands tied by a boyfriend who promised to never let another man have her since he couldn’t. I didn’t flinch, because I know that story. I’m trying now to save a former friend from an pre-physically abusive relationship, but she won’t speak to me. I’m still trying. I did throw the book across the room when Cleage recalls the chorus of Black men singing out their objections to Black women authors’ versions of Black relationships. How opposed those men were to Alice Walker’s The Color Purple and Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls, but how silent they were when Black male violence in real life was being condoned, taught, glamorized then ignored.

I hated how I felt standing in that bookstore on Church St. unable to imagine how painful it must be to want someone to fight you, knowing the culture is not set up for that. To see something so clear that you begin believing you’re crazy when others don’t see it too. Cleage ended a paragraph with “I wonder how much good all those poems about beautiful African queens can do in the face of a backhand slap across the mouth and a merciless rape in the bedroom of your own house.” Welcome to the house. I threw the book.

With deep side eyes, I’m looking at my friends who surprised me with their apologist behaviors. The only women who were ever raped are the women they know personally; all others are liars. So easy it was for them to believe their friends from college and that cousin from the north, but they somehow manage to find the strangers’ stories too complex; too difficult.

“He didn’t rape her,” they say. “Why would she wait twenty years to say anything?” Perhaps she went on living. Perhaps she didn’t wait 20 years and told those she knew would help her get through it, not those who would make her relive it over and over and over and then do nothing to help her cleanse her spirit of that night.

“They knew what they went over there for,” they say. “Who shows up at man’s house at midnight, drunk, knowing drugs were present.” And I think about the times I found myself in a drug den in Beverly Hills after midnight with questionable characters and what could have happened. I think about my friends who are spewing this ignorance and the situations in which they’ve found themselves. Are they insane? Do they realize the number of times they could have opened their eyes to someone thrusting away on top of them?

My friend thinks Bill isn’t a rapist. He also has no idea why his fiancé, also my friend, has trust issues with men. I know because she told me. She’s scared to tell him now. She’s scared he’ll call her a liar. Or worse, he’ll console her and make her wonder if it’s genuine, especially after all he’s said about the women like her.

“He’s a cheater and a sociopath and a pervert and a obviously disturbed, but he didn’t rape those women,” they say. “They’re just trying to make a dollar while bringing greatness down.”

On the phone he told the woman to tell her mother about the orgasm the woman never knew she had.

There are the women who have never been raped, or don’t know they were raped because definitions in their household are blurred, that say, “If I was raped, I wouldn’t wait so long. I would speak out immediately and bring him down.” I point them in the direction of:

  • 1. The women who spoke out immediately and watched nothing happen to their rapists.
  • 2. The many thousands of women in the military who report it knowing nothing will happen to their rapists because nothing has ever happened to a rapist in the military.
  • 3. My friends who’ve been raped and are speaking out about their thoughts on rape before they were raped and their thoughts on rape after they were raped.

But they still don’t listen.

I’m afraid I have friends who don’t know where the line is drawn. I’m afraid I have more friends that have been raped but haven’t spoken up because they’re not sure how to say, “I went over to have sex, and get high, and drink, but before I could consent to the sex part, I couldn’t feel my feet, and the next thing I knew, I was waking up.” I’m afraid I have friends who have entered women who said “no” repeatedly, but though it was a part of the “game she was playing.”

And I’m afraid the definition of rape changed without anyone’s consent. Too many men and women are looking for the woman crying in the shower, skin bleeding from scrubbing, still in ripped panties and a black eye. There are photos knocked over in the living room, a lock has been popped, and a door has been kicked in. To them, this is what rape really is, and nothing more.

Meanwhile, they work hard to make a liar of the woman in flawless makeup in a classroom waiting for her students to enter because teaching them about French Literature is the only thing getting her through the day.

And here I am, just writing because I don’t know what else to do. Write and teach my son and his friends and my cousins what is right and what isn’t. Writing because I’m tired of Charles Davis being the exception and not the rule when speaking out about Black male responsibility without pigeonholing or dealing in respectability politics. Maybe even a part of me believes that by sharing facts with my “rapey” friends who, like Dana Scully, will find every excuse to ignore truth because it means everything must now be questioned, even their own actions, saying “rape culture” won’t stop further discourse. “They weren’t raped. What he did wasn’t rape,” leaves women with less adequate words to describe a situation to themselves and anyone who asks. I suspect after hearing this for so long, I’d not come forward either until I was able.

And should I have a daughter before society is better, I’ll teach her to set herself on fire when men come to speak.

That Street

My nose can smell honeysuckle bushes from two blocks away
I know what to do when there is no air conditioner in the summer
I run in the street chasing girls racing boys
And sit under my grandmother listening to her talk about buying fifths and playing spades
Those sticky summer nights in cut-off jean shorts because my mother forgot to pack real shorts
Grass stains no one cares about
And all the love we can stand

I wrote that last line and realized why I like drugs so much
They erase time
I have no use for clocks when I’m high like I had no use for clocks when I was nine
They bring everything and everyone I’ve ever loved back to me
And I sit under them and listen to them talk like we never stopped running up and down that street that summer

On Friendship & Good Energy

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I had a prison pen pal once. A brother I used to trade revolutionary books back and forth with. He gave me my only copy of Soledad Brother and Souls on Ice. In a letter, he wrote, “sometimes you have to cut off the thumb to save the rest of the hand.” I was 15 at the time, and those words were extraordinary. Through life, I’ve applied what he told me. My hand is still in tact.

2015 has been an amazing year for growth, path walking, and so much more. I asked for only for more great energy and more friendships that are about more than clicking a button on Facebook, and while most of my friendships were f*cking outstanding, many resembled that ugly, plagued thumb.

Have you ever tried cutting off an appendage? Sh*t, it hurts. Ever heard of phantom limb? That’s real. But I did it. I no longer wanted to be around consistent negativity, so I stopped. I no longer wanted to know where rumors or truths about me were heard, and I no longer wanted to discuss things that weren’t conducive to anything positive in my life. I stopped. Thumbs get hurt and they ask questions and they don’t understand. I explained the why’s and left the thumbs on the table, bleeding on ice in case they ever wanted to come back to the hand.

It’s okay to not want to be around negative people. It’s okay to want only peace and good energy around you. It’s not okay to hate who you become when you’re in certain places with certain people. Cut off those thumbs and I swear life gets good. You’re not required to love, like, or tolerate anyone.