Natural

the tips of her hair coil

delicately as each strand twists bountifully from its root

head up –

with the most piercing 

naked eye

dividing the story 

from its origin

and trusting 

the wisdom behind

her eyes to represent 

the melanin

plunging down around her

full facial features 

kissings her plump lips just to dribble down her chin

and swirl around her

stately neck

from which collar

bones stem

provocatively

to reach the tips of her shoulders

round and stern

sitting parallel to the ground 

that she walked 

with each step her chest 

taps and her breasts freely

express their 

natural prowess

in their purest form

in front of the two eyes 

that are placed carefully

just about reaching 

the crux of her waistline

where the skin travels 

around, cascading a caffeinated  shade of brown 

atop of prominent muscles 

churning and sore 

from all of the strength that it takes to keep the life experience

that this woman may abhor

Starr Baker

April 15, 2015.

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Women’s Rights… “Ugh, Are We There Yet?”

Last semester, a friend of mine was assigned a project in her Women and Gender Studies class that consisted of conducting written and oral interviews with a few people who would consider themselves a feminist, or in my case, a Black feminist. I recently felt moved to share a few of my responses, but also the question to encourage discussion or just to get someone thinking out there.

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Interviewer: Why do you think there is still a need for women’s right activism?

Starr: Because I think we’ve reached a point where it is taken serious to some degree, but some people also view the progress as “overreacting” or “idealistic.” My main goal is to completely shatter the idea that “if you hit a man, he’s going to hit you back,” or “dress the way you want to be addressed,” as a justification for domestic violence and sexual assault. I think the more you remind people that our current society is not perfect, the more they will feel obligated to implement change in their daily lives. We’re kind of relaxing because of the progress we’ve made, and although we have made profound progress, we are still climbing an uphill battle on the fundamental level

I: What does it mean, in your opinion, to be a woman? Or man?

S: I honestly think it is strong to be a human. I was writing down my ideas of what it meant to be a man, and what it meant to be a woman; the lists were basically the same. Both roles should give and receive. Both roles are emotional; both are logical. Both roles require strength, passion, and faith in order to get through their life path. Both roles should be nurturing, intelligent, brave, courageous, and loving. Both roles are capable of feeling, and experiencing. So, I guess that’s just all it means to be a human

I: What are the role of men in women’s rights?

S: Men actually play a huge roll in women’s rights, and I would say that it begins within their friend group. I have many male friends, and while they may truly understand my points against misogyny, they are reluctant to implement the necessary changes within their own sphere, because it is so unpopular right now.

I: How does the LGBTQ community affect/influence women’s rights?

S: I think the LGBTQ community has influenced the idea of multiple identities of a woman. This singular idea of womanhood has been shattered, by the effort of this community, and by that of others. We are seeing a redefinition of what it means to be a woman, and therefore we are also redefining the expectations we have of womanhood, for the better in my opinion. If nothing else, the accomplishments by the LBGTQ community has shown us all that change really can happen within a society, and that gives hope to anyone fighting for a cause

I: How are you combating institutionalized patriarchy?

S: I am combating institutionalized patriarchy by making it known within my sphere and outside of it that the hetero-patriarchal view can not be the dominant voice in society anymore. I think we are progressing toward creating a more inclusive voice to represent our society. But I’ve also stopped blaming domestic violence victims for their positions, because I think that is a very patriarchal view. To say that “she was dumb for staying with him,” or even “she must have done something for him to get that mad.”

I: How did the ones before you influence you?

S: Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Harriett Tubman, and Maya Angelou are my greatest inspirations through my fight for justice. They remind me that even their vision was too great for the generation that heard it, and yet, they still continued the fight. Now we are able to speak out and keep pushing toward equality for all people. The saying goes, “what one generation tolerates, the next generation will embrace.”

A Creature of Love

Since love to me is unconditional acceptance I understand myself deeply

and I accept all the flaws that this body holds

They are the beauty in me

My beauty is in my expression

and also in what I hold internally.

My beauty is the feeling of appreciating myself.

From the stubbornness

to the generousness

and back again.

I love the way I react

I love the way I view the individual as a symbol of divine power and meaning in this life

I love the way music speaks to me and I retract a message to add to my journey
I am grateful to know.

I am grateful to be.

I am grateful to love.

All of this love that is given to me and received by me

Is that of purity.

Can it be defined?

Well, I do try

But the English language could never reveal the hidden valleys of my mind.

So, trust me now

To hold your heart

And treat it as I do my own

A precious intangible ray of gold. Gold that continues to stream and to shine…

That creates many allusions to my mind

I am blessed to be a creature of love.

My actions resonate the spirit of giving and receiving; from which I extract invaluable wealth.

I am endowed with a pure and loving power, more kindly, an influence, to all.

Including myself.

 

Starr Baker

November 25, 2014

Femininity? 

Why is it that there are only two groups of society who are pressured to adhere or to subside especially to those who make them uncomfortable? 
Why are women supposed to be nice, and why can’t we expect that of men?

What do femininity and masculinity really mean?

Have we distorted their meanings to justify societal illusions as fact. We explain masculinity and femininity as mutually exclusive elements, instead of explaining them as coexisting and depending elements with characteristics that blend, complement, and overlap. 
We can grow to explain feminism as a movement or state of being that empowers all people, because the state of femininity in a society, the way it is perceived, the way it is expressed, and the way it is repressed has an impact on all people within said society at one point of their growth. It is a movement that disproves the perceived duality between masculinity and femininity. If femininity is only applied to biological females, then why is it that biological males can express traits or even assume an identity that has characteristics of traditional femininity and vice versa? Feminism is a movement that affirms the overlap of the two elements and their interplay in our society. Masculinity craves distinctness between the two, assertiveness, a clear cut answer; while femininity is willing to spend time in the unknown. 

In Solidarity with Korryn Gaines

Yo…. This is straight up active resistance. This took not only knowledge but pure COURAGE. Even now knowing what a delegation of authority order is, I would never have the balls to challenge an officer from the driver’s seat in this situation. I myself simply wouldn’t have done this. 
Why? Because I’m afraid of being shot, or I just don’t want ANY problems, which I’m sure is the only reason why you wouldn’t resist if your tags had been illegally removed from your fully insured & inspected vehicle due to a pending case w/ the fed for which you were given an invalid/imaginary case number. Now this is revolutionary. I thought the same thing when the video started: “girl, shut UP! Give him your ID so you don’t freakin die out there!! You know they’d kill you for having all that attitude, FOR QUESTIONING HIM, he’s being beyond nice because he hasn’t killed you already!”
But wow can you believe we have been conditioned to think that way. In an altercation wherein you have not committed a crime, and the offense for which you have been pulled over seemed to have originated from the same source that is pulling you over ??
Knowing the background story really made me think: holy shit. She knows of a document that authorizes police officers to even OBTAIN her ID … & we’re telling her to just hand it over even though she knows she’s within her legal right to question his authority. Many of us don’t recognize this altercation as an expression of our legal rights but it really is. And in fact it sheds light on our complete ignorance to both our legal rights and the fact that we don’t even consider them in situations like this before just handing over our documents. 
Granted she could have done without the attitude but why should she? Other than to avoid a scene of a mad black woman or to avoid her death, which we are responsible for avoiding as young Black people in police encounters. She refused to be toyed with here – she rightfully asked for documentation that she was not ever presented (the cop DIDN’T EVEN KNOW WHAT IT WAS – what does that say about training?). In this encounter both PEOPLE involved (cop=civilian, not cop/civilian) have equal obligation to each other, but we have a subconscious habit of esteeming police with unquestionable authority just because of the badge they wear EVEN WHEN WE HAVE SEEN EVIDENCE of individual malice/fear/imperfection within the force. They took her keys only after she refused to comply.
Why do we comply? Because we are loyal to the law? Because we trust the officers who have been delegated to serve and protect? Because we believe the officer has our best interest at heart? Because we believe this system was built to protect us, and cops are our friends?
NO. Well I’ll speak for myself. I comply so that I don’t DIE, at this point. I tell Mekhi and Jayden to comply so that they don’t die. We are scared. We have a right to be! But It takes immense courage to be revolutionary and declare: I know my rights and I am not scared of you. This is just what happens when we are more dedicated to the revolution than our own lives. Not saying I am, but, damn. The more you LISTEN TO HER. It becomes very clear what is happening. We’re all scared but SOMEBODY HAS TO DO THIS WORK. To familiarize cops with the idea that they are humans just like us and we deserve presentation of their authorization to serve and protect the community. And that they can’t bully us into giving up our rights. 
We’ve come to the point where we could risk death or injury even if we are respectful and do comply – and your right to live is not contingent upon your willingness to obey a police officer. WTF. What’s wrong with us?
If people are really paying attention, shit is about to get LIT. 
Rest in Peace Korryn Gaines. #SayHerName

WE HEAR YOU. You’re a soldier. 

All Of Me.

You don’t see the world through my eyes.

So how could you expect to find my place in this world? 

You could only do so through eyes of your own. 

Which would make that observation,

a projection of your perspective,

on to me.

 Which would make me more of the person that you 

want me to be, 

and less of the person that I am.

And, most of all,

Would make me unfaithful to the side of myself,

that you cannot see.

The side I have to face

every night before I sleep.

And so that place in the world, 

in which you believe I fit, 

would actually be fit for a part of you

Instead of for all of me. 


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My biggest hope for the next generation is that there is no singular life path that they are pressured to conform to. No more predetermined rules, you make your own. No right or wrong way to live. No reason to pursue the life ahead of you, other than your undivided devotion to yourself and your vision.

They will be told:

 “Write your own ticket. You know what you’re passionate about, so go after it, be smart, and stay vigilant.”

The best part about your ticket is that nobody knows what it looks like other than you. Until your ticket is shared, and until the ticket is expressed through your own self, nobody has a clue what your ticket looks like. Only you can either choose or write your ticket, because this ticket is meant only for you, and lives only as long as all of you does.

Instead of being told that their passion isn’t worth pursuing or considering because it doesn’t make enough money, or doesn’t provide enough jobs. That philosophy is a product of the capitalist society that we will undermine. As long as you have passion, be smart, and stay vigilant – trust in yourself to follow your vision. Trust that in following the path that was carved for you, by you, fruits will be reaped from your labor. There is a job and a career that is meant for you – that you have the potential to consistently excel in. You must find it for yourself.

Once you do, don’t ever let anybody put a glass ceiling on your vision for your life.

It’s not worth it.

Word,

Starr