2 poems by Javan Howard

2 poems by Javan Howard

Perform My Blackness: Open Letter to Africana Studies and Black Studies Majors

The Negro must climb the racial
mountain but don’t look down
cuz’ negroes are falling off the raft.
Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay in the water
wade in the water, dead.
But where are all the Negro spirituals?
So soulful uplifting the nation
black citizens, my people.

Where is that voice of reason?
Contemplating the true dilemma,
as that Strange Fruit in America.
The Poet, The Writer, The Lyricist…
who turns black pain into black art
by squeezing the rhythm and blues
out of neo-slave narratives.

The Preacher, The Singer…
lifting every voice to sang a
harmonious oral history of
the black experience,
The unconventional black artist
The Comedian, The Actor
who like those tall tales passed
down from African Griots,
paints a vivid history rooted
in the melody of black struggle.

The pain echoed though
the wonders of performance arts
the continuity as fluid
as our black identity
as we break the verbal
barriers of the written language
and turn generations of silence
into a inter-disciplinary approach
of black subjectivity, one
fused with the cadence of rhymes
and a multitude of expressions

"Black men listening to a speaker at an outdoor STFU meeting" image by Flickr user Kheel Center

“Black men listening to a speaker at an outdoor STFU meeting” image by Flickr user Kheel Center

America is Me, America is NOT Me

America is Me
The hope, the promise
that withered on the backbones
of relatives that stitched
the (red) blood and blues
spewed from black dreams
on the stripes of the American flag.

America is Not Me
Our founding fathers
built a country on morals
That once deferred dreams through
Slavery and assassinations.
Gunning down black thoughts
Like runaways.

Yet still…

America is Me
The (new) hope, the promise
that lingers on the transgressions
of a new generations belief
In politics and not the politics of color
Or (the) color of an American citizen
Change? Yes we can

Because…

America is Not me
As it currently stands, until
we no longer minimize the values
of our fellow American citizens.
Whose burdens are entangled
In the same star spangled banner
that we all pledge allegiance too.

For…

America is Me, America is NOT Me
Her thorns, ever so prickly, as I peel off the,
She love me, she loves me not petals
from America’s rose. The same rose
that once grew Tupac from concrete
yet gunned him down w/o justice

America is Me, America is NOT Me


Bio PictureJavan Howard is an aspiring poet and writer from the Bronx, NY. He graduated with a BA in Africana Studies and a minor in Creative Writing and Poetry from Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA. Howard mentors incarcerated youth in NYC through poetry workshops, where students strengthen their voices and cultivate their creative talents. In his leisure time, Howard participates in open mic events under the moniker “Righteous Teacher.” He uses poetry as a social forum to foster discourse about love, culture and identity. He truly believes that the lived experience is the ultimate teaching tool because it allows us to connect with individuals from various lines of interest. To read more of Howard’s work, visit wordsbyjcharmz.wordpress.com.