Tag Archives: Life

“Bathroom Blues”

We complain and spend time on how public restrooms are used.
What’s the bigger issue? There has to be more than the bathroom blues.
Since you’ve  decided to deny the rights of those who are different, let’s focus in on the what really makes bigots selective.
The mirror is set up, look in if you wish.
Are you afraid that a deeper look will make you acknowledge someone else’s glitch?
People are people, just let us be. I’ll respect you if you let me L-I-V-E.
What you’re afforded should be afforded to me.
The stall next to you might contain, a rapist, killer or domestic violence victim, if they admitted guilt or cried out for help would you even listen?
Bathroom blues…
These stalls are not confession booths. That’s not why they’re used.
What gives you a right to make someone choose?
If we were out in jungle, just me and you, no boundaries or space definition, what would we do?
Would you know Laverne Cox was born a man if she never announced herself?
Lay people down  on  couches pull down books from a shelf– to analyze how you think they are  messed up in the mind based on a decision they made for their health.
Stop, please stop! The water is running and he didn’t wash his hands for more than 30 seconds.
He just finished jerking off to child pornography, now he’s going to shake hands for political elections.
You don’t care that he’s in the bathroom with you, but we are tied up in pointless conversation about who pees and where they release? Bathroom blues, or is it pink bathrooms for girls?

-Sharieka Breeden

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Temporary empty bed

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Sometimes it takes your partner being on vacation or a work trip for you to really embrace who they are.
I spend days coming down on my beautiful, witty fiancé about not reading my articles and our shared cleaning schedules.
Even though we are engaged, she’s still my girlfriend.
Through the years we’ve both developed new interests or firmly shaped old ones. When we first started dating, family, friends, feminism, social justice, human rights, plays, theater and movies were a huge part of her interest.
All of these things still are. It was easy to love this about her and came naturally.
In the mornings as we shuffle through the hour and a half before work by filling the 90 minutes in with our beautiful and thoughtful breakfasts, Stacy occasionally listens to podcasts.
Sometimes I come I from morning runs and take my headsets out and say baby, who is that? What are you listening to?”
The replies range from Marc Maron, to Terry Gross on “Fresh Air” interviewing Toni Morrison or Lena Dunham’s talk time.
These are some of her more recently expressed interests along with a huge love for comedy. I don’t overlook them when she’s here which is how I know all this by the way, but it took her absence and returning from a morning run on Friday and not hearing her podcast and seeing her prepare oatmeal with chia seeds to remind me of how blessed I am. Sometimes being in the midst of a blessing makes it such a norm that we fail to see how extraordinary it is.
She’s an Instagram and Internet surfer constantly googling the right way to do things (whether it’s tips for me about recovering from a marathon or tips for her how to join a college class late). She uses social media to embrace and experience individuals like Cheska Lee or “something badass” the first name slips my mind but after a little bit more thinking, I think it’s Nikki.
We talk about things, the Flint water crisis, health/education disparities, grocery lists, vilolence and the stupity of taking someone’s life, or intentionally hurting another person, Amy Schumer’s comedic genius, Kobe Bryant’s excellence as basketball’s greatest ever, Kendrick Lamar and Adele’s strong song writing abilities or Trumps rants, Sander’s place in politics, my family, her family, me missing my bestfriends or the cute pictures and videos of her best friend’s baby or brothers children who she refers to as her kids in an endearing tone.
We sit perplexed about talking about what’s next while sipping on Craft beers and excitedly talking about our new found shared interest in IPAs and stouts. We note our water intake, and smile at our discovery of Bok Choy and Swiss chard while talking about delights like Duck Donuts.
We laugh at movies, cry on them too. No offense to the scripts. All respect, we do this when they are good. She listens to me talk about documentaries like Spanish Land and sits down to check out “30 for 30s” like the “Prince of Pennsylvania” she explores movies like “Blue Jasmine” and encourages me to check out things that I consider questionable like Chelsea Handler’s alleged thought provoking serious where she has a segment on race. (I remain reluctant and refuse)
Right now I am in bed, thinking about my next move, coffee, getting the paper to see if my article on Petey Pablo ran, her and what’s she’s doing, if she is making Pumpkin pancakes (Mickey mouse shaped)for her nephew and two nieces, our wedding plans, the now, what’s next. I’m blessed, sometimes an empty side of the bed serves as the best reminder about how full life is.

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Life over death

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Check out my thoughts on gun violence, what we need to do to combat the issue and a breakdown of President Barack Obama’s address to the public on the issue, reform and where we are headed as a nation.

Stay Peace…

Don’t just live, live well -Episode 2

See what Chris Wilmore  is doing in his community to make a difference. People will watch paid boxers and MMA fighters fight. These individuals are doing it for their lives and handling their issues without a gun. No charge. Check out Guns to gloves

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“And the Winner is? : Part 2”

By Sharieka Breeden
House vs. Field — “Part II of “And the Winner is?”
 Check out Part 1 of this two-part series for some insight and my reflections on “Forest Hills Drive” and “To Pimp A Butterfly”
These are my thoughts after reflecting on the current status of hip hop, it’s increased popularity, appeal and the way the genre has become widely embraced in homes where hip hop artist wouldn’t previously be welcome. For me, hip hop has always been important. Artists tell stories I relate to and respect. They tell stories that have helped to shape culture, paint the experiences of those from different cultures and help the blind to see. -Sharieka  
The match-up 
Who we choose in competition says something about us. As the Grammy Awards approach, Kendrick Lamar has wowed many by grabbing 11 nominations which he is well deserved of. The rapper who hails from Compton and has no problem delivering insight and truth through his music is a favorite for many. For some he may be kind of hard to take due to him never failing at being real.
For many years, darker-skinned men like Lamar were underrepresented in culture, the media and society. (Sidney Pottier and Mekhi Pfeiffer are exceptions)
 Lamar, a darker skinned brother with natural hair and an image that America for years rejected, possibly due to the “Field Nigga”  label seems to be widely accepted by many and renowned as a gifted lyricist who’s has appeared on late night television, is referenced in pop culture and even embraced in politics. (Yet there are still so many barriers to break). During slavery dark-skinned blacks spent long , hot days in cotton and tobacco fields doing harsh labor that often resulted in harsh punishment if the results were considered sub-par. It meant not being good enough or close enough to white and in the minds of many, it still does. The shades of darkness are true confirmation that darker individuals are farther away from privilege and closer to jail sentences along with not being viewed as societally acceptable. (It shouldn’t be this way. All of us possess beauty and the blacker the berry…). It’s messed up because this is much deeper and also is perpetuated in our own community where people shy away from spending too much time in the sun in fear of being black, hold their light skin relatives to higher esteems and say things like “ She’s pretty for a dark-skinned girl) (Ignorance is a weapon that kills our chance to exist)  The fear that arises in people when they see a black man who is unquestionably black is alarming. For in him, they can’t find a hint of themselves. As beautiful, gifted and essential to music and the world as Lamar and so many other dark-skinned brothers are, there worth and value should never be questioned. You can’t find a hint of anything else in them, but Lamar’s work and artistic ability can’t be ignored, nor can his message. He has been invited into the homes of many, breaking paradigms and eliminating some of the boundaries that “Light skin is in” and forcing us to embrace a more emcopassing and broader understanding for color, race, ethnicity and other identities.
Maybe his experiences as a dark-skinned black man make him go that much harder over beats and also shape his experiences and perspective in a world where being black can often mean being shot for no reason, lesser pay on a job, being imitated with no credit, real-estate discrimination, higher incarnation rates and other injustices in institutional systems like schools and workplaces.
“To Pimp A Butterfly” is an album well deserving of the nominations. It’s artistically genius, boldly truthful and dope listening. I see one man as a contender. It’s the lighter skin brother from Fayetteville, N.C. who spent time in New York for education and in pursuit of a music career.
J. Cole comes from a place where cotton fields and plantations really existed. There are still some in North Carolina if you travel in the wrong direction. They are just as present as confederate flags that people proudly wave and snarls that occasionally come when people think you’re going to snatch their purse on a morning run. Cole is a light-skinned brother with a multi-race makeup and while he can’t pass for white (in my opinion), for some he fits the mold for what was referred to as a “House Nigga” His music cuts and penetrates, forcing people to know what it’s like being from a tough city and in today’s America how black is black whether you’re light skinned or dark skinned. While he isn’t dark as Kendrick, you can’t say that the two mens life experiences have been much different. Both are faced with the same reality as me, knowing that we are losing count of the number of young black men shot down, tired of having to shuck and jive to be accepted and wanting more for our people than black on black crime in neighborhoods that are ridded with poverty and poor nutrition and a much-needed spark about education. Cole’s work relays a message and a reminder that things can get ugly and violent when people who are categorized as the minority want more. He also shows that he’s well aware of what it means to have skin color afford you luxuries and grant you the opportunity to take and shape someone else’s culture. He represents the black culture, because he’s black but he doesn’t permit everyone else to have the same pass.
In a world where it seems that dark skin or light skin doesn’t allow us to escape from the struggles that come with being black, we have an obligation to say claim all the homes and the fields in this land as ours (We are entitled to them as anyone, if not more). They belong to us, not to work in, be beaten and lynched on but to possess as places where we can grow abundantly in a country that should accept and embrace not only our music but us without second guessing their obligation to do so. Entertainers like Cole and Lamar both force us to think on this.
With Lamar’s Cali-style accompanied by the wisdom of Tupac and Dre’s deadly beats he’s the Malcolm X of the game right now. Cole is a powerful  voice as well though. With the influence of Jay-Z, advice from Nas and vision of his own, when he speaks into the microphone, he presents a different reality and tells of what struggles can result in while continuing to reflect on what it means to be human. He’s Huey P. Newton with his wordplay. Both are needed, both are essential.
To know that Lamar, is up for album of the year but comes from a genre of music that used to only be listened to and thought of as ‘just for some” is telling. What’s more telling is knowing that the only person that I see as a formidable opponent out of all the other artists at the Grammy’s is Cole who comes from a genre for the people that tells the stories that often go untold until they snatch national headlines.
And the winner is?
See Part I for my reflections on Cole and Lamar’s work.
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Worth More.

By Sharieka Breeden

Artificial accessories delivered on a doorstep. Visions of success interrupt night rest, so when the sun rises it feels like you haven’t slept.

Foreign policies on homeland. Bills and proposals put into place that we can’t seem to understand.

Rattled, out of place. Working hard to grasp the concepts that are presented to you. Born. Live. Die. The only thing in between it all is living.

We are infatuated with the breaths we take, unconsciously aware of their value. In the seconds where we acknowledge the importance of our existence, we count them as significant.

Memories are created as we live minutes that mean everything. Time is what we have. We are not owed it, but we are granted and awarded it.

Still we allow ourselves to become consumed with a system that counts our value in dollar signs. Limited amounts that decrease our values make it simple for systems to organize and monopolize our lives into meaningless frames where we can’t recognize the significance of our essential selves.

We are worth more than they all credit us for. We are time. We are valuable. In us, are memories worth gripping forever and time that we will never want to let go. Bigger than a system, more important than constraints and limitations that come labeled “In God we Trust.”

Valuable beings. Existing with a purpose. Standing tall, defining important, never letting dollar signs   count you as worthless. Bank accounts, can’t determine your amount, worth of self is defined by what you put out.

Put out genuine mindsets with your creative energy, visions of beauty that you want others to see.  Living in between the phases of our existence, taking away the power from that which is insignificant. We are worth more.

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I listened to Thelonious Monk’s Blue Monk when I wrote this: Play What you Want

Poetry by: SHARIEKA BREEDEN

Will the universe ever birth it’s greatest during our existence?

Where do we stand in the story of creation? In the scheme of things and the pattern of possibilities, where do we stand?

Movements in motion. History unfolds as we mark life by mourning the lives of legends.

Prayers sent up for enhanced circumstances. Rituals passed down through story-telling and dances.

Have I met a king; Have I talked to a queen?

Visions of forever, with a presentation that I have never romantically placed into the scheme of things. It just seems to look like forever when I try to glance at tomorrow but am still staring at today.

Restless hours: running through time as we dig through the pits of the earth anxiously trying to find what sleep means.

Scriptures from sacred texts, feelings of being blessed, empty refrigerators and world starvation that makes us second guess what it is that religion is trying to suggest?

Wrongful rights and righting wrongs. The intensity that can be felt when someone speaks a redundant cliche yet powerful term “Be strong.”

The universe has birth it’s greatest during our existence and while I have not met the king or queen of everything I have surely encountered the ruler of something.

We stand in the center of our own creation, moving in rhythm, off beat and off key as we do the same as the ones before us, yearn for intimacy.

Longing to feel the surface of the universe, we scratch, scrape and dig, never able to truly find the purpose. Useless fossils and bones that stamp the supposed begging of our existence.

Labels of ignorance placed on our foreheads as we champion in the fight to end oppression.

Throwers of stones doing our best to be the cause of someone else repenting. Modern day slavery coming through a jail sentence.

Sharecropping is nothing more than renting. Will the universe ever birth justice during our existence.

I have met fair treatment on several occasions. I have also been introduced to the backwards practices of those who think that solutions come from liquor stores being placed on every corner in the ghetto and in every shopping plaza in the suburbs.

Back to the scripture; proverbs.

Unhealthy drinking water in all of our glasses.

In the scheme of things and the pattern of possibilities, where do we stand?

Will the universe ever birth its greatest during our existence?

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Rise up: Thank you Nelson Mandela

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By Sharieka Breeden

There are those who lead.

Then there is Nelson Mandela; a man who committed his life to enhancing the world we live in. Today, at 95 years-old he passed away.

As we mourn the life of a leader who was handed the unjust sentencing of 27 years in prison for opposing apartheid, I find myself deeply wondering about the making of Mandela.

I find myself wanting to know more about him, his contributions and what it takes to dedicate your entire life to sharing your vision of making the world a better place.

Mandela was more than a man who rose up from a cold prison cell to become a world leader. He was a symbol.

What does it take for an individual to commit to fighting for justice? What qualities must one possess to unite people and make the rest of the world believe peace and equality are attainable realities?

I don’t exactly know the answers to those questions, but it was clear that Mandela did. As he championed for justice, he united people and he put peace and equality within reach for many.

The first black president of South Africa committed himself to delivering democracy and eliminating racial tension. He worked endlessly to deliver freedom and hope to the people he led. It wasn’t just a position for him or an opportunity to make history.

It was a chance for him to position himself and help to shape history and the world we live in.  Mandela’s leadership is an inspiring motivational example of what can be done when a person is willing to express compassion and concern for the development of people.

While his exit leaves most of the world longing for someone else to fill in as a peaceful facilitator that can share their visions of a world that can offer justice, it should leave all of us challenging ourselves and questioning what legacy we will leave. That’s what it certainly has done for me.

We must remember to mourn the world leader who challenged many of us to be better versions of ourselves. In remembering him, his fight for justice, his peaceful approach and his commitment to enhancing society must not be forgotten.

Today I found myself finding strength from a man that I have never met. I also found myself willing to admit that I don’t know much about the hero-like figure that I was always excited to see on television, read about or listen to as he shared his optimism.

As we say good-bye to a member of society who earned the Nobel Peace Prize because of the way he dedicated his life to making the world better, I question what I can do to better the world we live in.

For starters, I need to educate myself on Mandela and his will to make sure that he did something about helping to combat the ills of society. I need to look within and start trying to answer some of the questions he answered in his existence.

Mandela responded to a challenge. Let’s rise up and make our best effort to the same. May he rest in peace and may his contributions continue to serve as a blueprint for us as we work to impact and influence.

“Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of their people.”-Nelson Mandela

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Praying for a Dream

Desire flows through the veins.

People in a room often anticipate their exit. They open their hands and wait for an out. They close their hands, clasping them tightly together  preparing for prayer with expectations embedded in their spirits as they wait to see what they are left with.

Equal exchanges make for clear messages. Truths and the concept of an eye for an eye which we all subconsciously live with line our thoughts and emotions.

Sometimes truth resides in corners we don’t want to look in.

The first time we always miss it,  but if we are ambitious enough or have desire flowing through our veins we check again. We usually settle for the lies that are presented to us, letting them drape themselves in our acceptance and refusal to want to accept rejection.

Most of the time I wake up, full of energy and running towards the day and by night fall I find myself drained and longing for a sleep that will put me in a trance and carry me off to a land where I will manifest and explore my deepest thoughts and just dance truths.

Waking up is a reminder that sometimes it’s hard to reach ourselves when we have our eyes open to everything else. Desire flows through my veins. It does. It fuels me. It seeps through my pores. I suppose that I am different in a way. It’s a struggle for me to suppress that which I yearn for, but some how I find a way to do it very well, well enough that the struggle is not visible.

I cover you back up with sheets and relinquish in my efforts to place kisses all over you. Desire keeps flowing through my veins. I release you as requested. The truth is I am praying for a dream and the desire in my veins is different than yours.

Return back to my space and realize that the inability to be spontaneous kills the dreams and thoughts to enjoy the moment. In some way shape or form you’ve made every minute there after dull. You’ve made it clear that the desire that pumps through my veins should be redirected. It doesn’t belong here in an expressed fashioned, uncovered, and shared with you.

It belongs in my veins. Flowing in my veins as I become a person in the room, anticipating an exit, my hands closed, clasped together praying that when they are open again I will have an out.

Desire flows through my veins that’s what I am left with.

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All things great

I suppose when we are at a point where people walk around raving about how nice we are, how charming we can be, that we are safe.
Safety simply comes because when we are at that place, it should be clear how self absorbed somebody is about the energy we have incorporated into their existence.
Never dawned on them that our overextended efforts to flatter them only exist because sadly enough we base our progression and development on how well they they perceive and accept us.
Is there any trueness in our appreciation for another human being? Is it just a perpetuated idea or false concept of what we will be given if we are well received by them?
Somehow it seems that the few people who walk around with no need or desire to be liked, respected and or accepted may have the only real notion of reality or self actualization. If this is true or the really the case then we should all live to be individuals who receive no respect, aren’t liked and rarely please others. What do we really get out of invested energy and distributing ourselves by throwing out comments like “you look nice today or even “hello” or my condolences” approval? Approval for what? Approve of yourself and the concepts that life is a reality, death is inevitable and everything in between is just music, so either make it or listen to it, but make sure it’s being created because you like the sound and not because you’re trying to make hits for fans who can make your career advance. Have a nice day.

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Puddles….

Intentions are clear, but the motives are clouded.
Can’t stare in the direction, forced to face the reflection.
Face in front of a puddle of water, voice echoing off the walls.
Screams from the inside, pressure on, yell as loudly as you can,
nobody answers when shouting calls.
The highest is present in every action and thought.
Before the creation was the creator.
Intentions are clear, but the motives are clouded.
Would love to know the mindset of such a thinker.
Able to develop a space formerly known as the world, the universe, our space.
This place, temporary, not everlasting, rules and regulations, consistent agitation.
Limitations. Four lines, constantly stuck in a box. No answer when judgement knocks.
Disbelief, in disbelief about what’s being offered. Every day requires another strategy to avoid redundancy.
Hands open, waiting to hold the possibility of a promise or the guarantee that reliving the best moment ever is the dream that you are working to turn into a reality.
Intentions are clear, motives unknown.
Looking in the mirror, self hiding, the truth is not shown.
Questions and answers all created based on perception, opinion and experience.
Life
©

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