Making Myself Ready…

Posted: August 27, 2014 in Uncategorized
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What i love most about my relationship with Terrance is that we did not enter into this partnership with our blinders on. We knew it would be difficult. We knew that we would be frustrated sometimes, angry even. But what I knew to be true was that I didn’t want to be angry or frustrated with anyone else but him.

I am this often insecure and abstract thing, always internalizing my imperfections and allowing them to metastasize (I’ve been watching House M.D. on Netflix, lol) long before letting him know that I’m struggling. There is a slew of undoing that needs to be done… and it all won’t happen before October 12th. But it is the process of knowing that we as both imperfect individuals can find solace in sharing love and space… and that in and of itself is worth the act of exchanging vows to commit to a lifetime of undoing and doing.

Planning a wedding as a black girl in this world hasn’t been easy. I’ve felt guilty for it. All the while, and still while, injustices are happening all over this world I’ve been gearing myself up to be made pretty, and ogled over for one day. I’ve wanted to tweet and post to Facebook about all the custom made things I’ve crafted, the milestones we’ve made. the plans that have gone awry. And for the most part I’ve refrained. Because I have yet to grasp how to balance being an activist and negotiating that with being a bride. The blessing in that is that I’ll only be a bride for another month and a half.

This stems mostly from the idea that black girls like me don’t get to have “happily ever afters” and the fact that God has granted me permission to pursue my “ever after” makes me wonder why me? And everyone in my world says “Why not, Eris? You deserve this.” And that is a battle. Daily I have to remind myself that I am allowed to be loved. I am allowed to be beautiful. I am allowed to feel worth… and I am allowed to not be sorry about it.

What I know to be true is that there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to how to love… I am flexible, willing to bend, and ready to trust the process that is set before the both of us. Knowing that failure is not an option.

Why LeBron came home…

Posted: July 11, 2014 in Uncategorized

Cleveland, and Northeast Ohio in general is not an easy place to live. It’s hard. People struggle. We do more work for less money and still get up every day to get things done. The weather is shitty. The construction is ever present, and the sports teams are always a day late and a dollar short. So why bother? Why Ohio? Why Cleveland?

Clevelanders have the word survival etched into our DNA it is the once connector we all share. In a region where racism, classism, and every other -ism always present, we know how to survive against all odds. We rebuild and grow… and sometimes we have to leave for a while.

LeBron had to leave as a part of his Rites of Passage. When you get to see your home from the outside looking in, it shifts your personal paradigm of understanding. It shows you how brutal the world can be. And even though people all over the world will welcome you in with open arms (as long as you’re talented and able to contribute to their bottom line) there’s no place like home.

It takes a person from Cleveland to come back after the heinous words that were written, the jersey burning ceremonies, the dragging of his jersey from pickup truck. It was scary and terrifying to watch.

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I traveled all over this country in the last four years, and there wasn’t a trip where I wasn’t asked how I felt about LeBron. What wouldn’t have been news in any other city became our new “burning river.” And so now all eyes turn back to our glorious city; the place that I proudly “put on” for… and we welcome one of our own back.

So we come home because there is uncommon sense of calm.

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We come home because we want our children to grow up knowing that must you bust your butt to be great.

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We come home for the corned beef, polish boys, and wing dinners with sauce.

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We come home because you don’t always want to be the ones teaching people how to line dance.

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We come home because fame doesn’t faze Clevelanders.

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We come home because loyalty comes standard.

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We come home because success isn’t tied to a win… its tied to the reverent need to never stop trying.

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We come home because it’s home.

-eris.zion.venia


I was no more than twelve years old when I was asked to read Maya’s “Still I Rise” at a Black History program for my church. I was working hard to memorize the lines and as I was practicing, my mother told me that I wasn’t allowed to say one of the lines:

“Does my sexiness upset you? Does it come as a surprise that I dance like I’ve got diamonds at the meeting of my thighs?”

I knew why saying sexy at church probably wasn’t the right thing to do. But what was the hold up about the diamonds? There was nothing wrong with those right? Diamonds weren’t unholy. I looked at my thighs often after that. My brown legs that grew bigger and thicker and still the thought of bedazzled thighs wasn’t something absurd for a 90s kid. Who didn’t have jeans with rhinestones on them?

I’ve always known my body. I understood that it belonged solely to me. I explicitly recall my mother doing my hair and while on one of her many rants she pointed “at the meeting of my thighs” with her periwinkle brush and said “you don’t let anyone touch you there.” I also remember visiting my mother in the hospital after she had her hysterectomy. She pulled back her gown, showed my sister and me the scar, and explained to us what the doctors did to her body, and why they did it.

My Mother and my Maya taught me about my diamonds. I’m unsure of when it clicked that Maya was referring to priceless sway and shimmy that emerges when you know that you got something priceless at the meetings of your thighs. I would close my eyes and imagine a younger Maya in a red dress, long and lean, with her hand on her hip letting her back bone slip, with the sweet sound of a hidden chandelier of bling… barely audible to the ear.

Yes. Maya was a woman. Not a girl, not a female, not a lady.

Maya, through her writing, taught me what authenticity truly meant. It means honoring your body with your words, exalting your spirit with your song, and using the truth to save your life even when it hurts. I grew up with Maya. She was first a sister to me as I read “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” and became an auntie who told me the secrets my mother didn’t have the nerve to utter when I delved into her poems. And as I aged she became the sage that was my saving grace.

There was a point in my career where I had such a tense conflict with a coworker that I had to move my desk to another part of the office. As I cleaned up my new space there was a small piece of paper on the floor. When I picked it up it read “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya has always attended closely to me.

I’m not sad that she’s gone. She fulfilled her life’s mission. I will never forget how she’s made me feel. I will always carry closely her ability to cajole the world with her words in such a way to move us to action. Maya gave of herself completely. Ensuring that she left her life works for every black girl to know and grow from. Well done good and faithful servant.

Love #eZv10390354_580046990695_1153811813404787340_n

To: M’reld Green.
From: Tameka Haywood

Written by: eZv

POET’S KID

He holds a girl child on his right hip
His stage name must be dad
Because he has entertainment of an infant
Down to a science
Making sure she isn’t overly absorbed
With her reflection in the mirrored ceiling
He makes his girl child watch her mom
Read a poem about her big brother
From a page full of
Red inked stanzas.

She writes blank verse
In baby gibberish
About household pets
And plants that make her feel she’s
In a jungle every time she crawls
Into the dining room

How amazing it must be to know that
You’re a poet before you can walk.

To know your parents might be cool enough
To let you get your first tattoo at sixteen
As long as you showed them the design
Complete with a written explanation
As to why this ink must permeate your skin
At this moment

She’s a girl child spawn
From a love that most say
You shant indulge in…
“Never. Fuck. A. Poet.”

Should we not have our own breed?

Breastfeeding newborns with limericks
And giving them block puzzles of Shakespeare’s pentameter.
They could be scolded in assonance
And praised in free verse

You would know how their day of school went
From the use of their stressed syllables
And when she turns 12…
She will perfect the hyperbole.

All grievances will be submitted verbally
In three minutes or less
Void of any grace periods.

A P.K. (…a poet’s kid)
Will be much like a preacher’s kid.
Reckless. Flippant. Quick to fuck.

They will explore sexuality
While claiming to hate poetry out of spite.
And by the time she turns seventeen.
She will write love notes in seventeen syllables
That teachers won’t be able to decipher

My locker is closed
You have the combination
Unlock it tonight.

eris.zion.venia

all rights reserved.

By: Eris Zion Venia Dyson
Twitter/IG/Tumblr: @eZvenia

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I was devastated last night. I laid in my bed, fighting back tears, to frustrated to eat, watch the All-Star Weekend festivities, or even conjure up enough strength to get an episode of House of Cards in. My fiancé saw that I was inconsolable. I had to sit with the Michael Dunn verdict on my heart.

Today I sat in the car in the parking lot of a grocery store with my sister after church. She told me that she was waiting to hear about my reaction to the Michael Dunn verdict last night. She wasn’t sure if I had heard the word or not… until she saw my post that said:

  1. I’m angry.
  1. I’ll probably never participate in a march again. They’ve out-stayed their welcome, are ineffective, and rarely solve anything in the 21st century.
  1. I just had a conversation with my womb about ‘Y’ chromosomes. And to think twice about bearing black boys on this soil.
  1. It’s been a long time since I’ve tried to scrub the blackness off my flesh. I may try tonight.
  1. I rarely approach things I fear.
  1. I’m not changing my profile pic. (Refer to #3)
  1. White people should talk to white people about how they as a community innately fear blackness.

We spoke candidly about our confusion, about our fear for my nephew (her son) who was sleeping soundly in the back seat. We rolled through the verdict out loud to see if we had missed something. Dunn had been convicted in three counts of attempted murder, but when it came to Murder in the First Degree, the jury could not come to a consensus.

So my sister, Eriane Dyson, said, “he’s going to jail, not because he killed Jordan Davis, but because he DIDN’T kill the other three boys in the car.”

Well I’ll be damned. It makes perfect sense. Michael Dunn is going to jail for doing a half assed job of executing Black youth. Had the other three died, Dunn would be a free man right now!

Dunn said…  “My intent was to stop the attack, not necessarily end a life, it just worked out that way.” I keep staring at that phrase “ not necessarily.” Some of the synonyms for necessarily being:  unavoidably, inevitably, certainly. But when you pick up a gun, decide to fire it, the inevitable indeed happens.

Dunn didn’t shoot warning shots into the ground, or into the air. Dunn didn’t engage in fisticuffs. He sprayed a vehicle with bullets, gingerly left the scene all the while patting his self on the back for teaching those Black boys a lesson.

The lesson “worked out that way” because the American curriculum states that Black bodies have no value.

Grey’s Anatomy star Jesse Williams makes it plain by saying “[Black men are] victims of a fantasy. This fantasy of what the Black body does and can do has become more importantly than the reality and we pay for it with our lives.” He goes on to say: “The idea of feeling threatened is not the same thing as being threatened. We pretend that it is, but it’s not.” And finally for those who keep saying this isn’t a “race thing” Williams states: “This idea of having to explain why it’s racial, while we’re standing in our own blood is silly. It’s racial because it doesn’t happen to White people.”

And to white people, and maybe some people of color who may be seething at this particular narrative, the solution is not being “color-blind”. I need you to see us. See these young Black boys with their black skin who wear their pants off their asses, blasting their music, freaking their black & mild’s, standing in line for Jordan’s, head phones on, rattling off curse words and “nigga” as they please… I want you to see them. Acknowledge them. Love them. Lift them up. Let them be who they are.

Believe it or not they are not, nor have they ever been the problem.

Imagine the outcome had Michael Dunn walked up to the young men and said, “Hi, excuse me. Could you turn your music down a little bit, I’m having a hard time hearing mine. Thanks so much! Have a great day!”

When you acknowledge the humanity of a person, chances are their humanity acknowledges you as well. And if your idea of humanity doesn’t include a person because of characteristics that you deem “uncomfortable” maybe it’s you that missing the humanity.

Hey Everyone!!

I’ve decided to take my morning saying and give it to the world to have something to wake up to! This is one of a few ideas that my Fiancé and I had to help support having the wedding of our dreams. And since we both know that money doesn’t grow on trees, we’re stepping out on faith with this small fundraiser. If all goes well… we will do more and more!

Thank you in advance for your support!

#GetYours
Love,

Eris & Terrance

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Happy Birthday Zora Neale Hurston

By: Eris Zion Venia Dyson

A letter to my future daughter…

Dear Zora Venia,

The year is 2014, and it’s Zora Neale Hurston’s 123rd Birthday. As a cultural critic, playwright, and poet, Hurston was and still is the epitome of radical self love. A love that is difficult, not always pretty, but always beautiful. Hurston gifted light to a space of America that was often deemed too treacherous to explore.

Posthumously, Zora continues to say the things that we often don’t have the courage to conjure up and let slip from our lips. Her relevance in this “post-racial” society is even more crucial than ever. I, as a writer often times find me having a revolutionary thought or feeling, and come to the realization that it was something I read and ingested from Hurston. In her time on this earth, she covered so much ground; from friendship, to faith, to fascism.

My mother, your grandmother (who’s middle name you also have), named me Eris. This name, in Greek mythology, is the goddess of strife and discord. I resented that name for so long, before I realized that my name had extreme power, and strife wasn’t who I was, but it was what I endured. I knew then that I wanted to be intentional about what name I would gift my legacy.

In a letter  Zora wrote to Countee Cullen in 1943, she said “I have never liked stale phrases and bodyless courage. I have the nerve to walk my own way, however hard, in my search for reality, rather than climb upon the rattling wagon of wishful illusions.” And that’s what I spend my days doing… finding my nerve to walk my path, no matter how difficult. I encourage you to do the same.

What made her timeless was her ability to use “plain speak” to say what she meant, in a way that was accessible to all people no matter who you were. Her words resonate in the deepest corners of our beings. Corners that we long forgot could be occupied. Zora shows up in bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Ntozake Shange, and undoubtedly Alice Walker. She is at the base of my literary family tree.

I gave you the name Zora because I wanted her ancestral fire to dwell in your soul… I wanted you to know that no matter what history books may say, that we as black women are the Original Woman, and that often times the courage of our voices is scrubbed from history, but no matter how many times we’re erased, we are rewritten over and over again. I gave you the name Zora to know that you can write and rewrite your life however you choose to see it and be it.

I gave you this name so you knew that you had permission to never ask for permission.

Below are just a few quotes that have carried me through that I want you to internalize and know… Zora Neale Hurston will always be the soil in which Black Girl Poets & Writers sprout from, and no matter the path you chose to journey, know that you are cut from this cloth. That you are powerful, loved, gifted, beautiful, and black.

Zora on prejudice and discrimination… “Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.”

Zora on patience and understanding… “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”

Zora on friendship and sisterhood… “I have known the joy and pain of friendship. I have served and been served. I have made some good enemies for which I am not a bit sorry. I have loved unselfishly, and I have fondled hatred with the red-hot tongs of Hell. That’s living.”

Zora on good love… “Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.”

Zora on truth and pain… “If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.”

Zora on self love at all times… “I love myself when I am laughing. . . and then again when I am looking mean and impressive.”

Zora on benevolence and service… “There is nothing to make you like other human beings so much as doing things for them.”

Zora on patriotism… “I will fight for my country, but I will not lie for her.”

Zora on truth… “Those that don’t got it, can’t show it. Those that got it, can’t hide it.”

Zora on… well… being bad ass… “You heard me. You ain’t blind.”

Love,

Eris a.k.a. Mother, Ma, Mama… or whatever you’ll end up calling me. <3