i had my first two tests of college today, and you know, they weren't that bad. i'm just really tired, and my weekend is going to be nothing less than hectic. but in a good way. i have a paper to write that i'm not writing to write this. also. i dyed my hair green, and i really like it. i'm really liking who i'm shaping up to be. this didn't make any sense. i'm tired. i need to write my paper. goodnight.
"jocee, i'm sad." but she says it with this awkward southern draw that makes it sound like 'sick' or something like that. after i decipher it to be the word 'sad,' i ask "why are you sad?"
she says it's because these are the last few days she has of being eight. "i don't want to turn nine because that means i'll be closer to being a teenager. and i don't want to be a teenager." again: "why?" and she says "because then after that i'll have to be an adult. and i don't wanna be an adult. it's like everything is flying by so fast. first you go to elementary school, then middle school, then high school and then college! that's like four steps of school and then you have to leave home. i don't want to leave home. i want to stay in this house with mommy and daddy forever." and i told her that sometimes, i feel the same way.
joy is turning nine on sunday and i actually don't think she wants to.
college is going great, by the way. how are you? really?
-kiss kiss kiss, sanjay and craig-
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-
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.