Category Archives: 40to40

Ahhhh, 40!

Dasan Ahanu birthday outfit 1 - Friday
Dasan Ahanu Birthday outfit 1 – Friday
Dasan Ahanu Birthday outfit 2 - Saturday
Dasan Ahanu Birthday outfit 2 – Saturday

40to40: 40 posts for 40 days until turning 40

“At 20 years of age the will reigns; at 30 the wit; at 40 the judgement.” – Benjamin Franklin

I turned 40. That milestone in your life where….Well, I don’t really know what is supposed to happen when you turn 40. Everyone talks about being free and empowered. They say you worry less about things or become more comfortable with you. I personally think that folks realize 40 years is enough time to worry about bullshit. So whatever that bullshit is they let go of it and that becomes their defining turning 40 moment.

I told everyone I was letting go of my filter. Of course, I can’t truly do that. What I’m really doing is adjusting my filter. Some of my tact, subtlety, savvy, and awareness is from my own self consciousness. The rest is from paying attention to my surroundings and the people that occupy said surroundings. The self conscious part is what I am letting go of. People will be happy to know I am not ditching the surroundings and people part. Some were truly afraid of that. I enjoyed letting them think that would actually happen. Nope, I am reserving that luxury for 60. Then all bets are off and the filter will be completely burned.

I think that I have earned the right to let go of the inner kid who never wanted to seem out of place even if he was. The inner kid who never wanted to be caught off guard. The inner kid who wanted to know exactly how to maneuver in whatever space he was in.  That kid has now agreed that some “F*ck it” can take over the next 20 years. How I carry my self is no longer self preservation, it is now a representation of how I feel…about you, the situation, global warming, hamburgers, chai lattes…basically, we will see how the wind blows.

I’m looking forward to seeing how things go. I am sure the next chapter in this adventure that has spanned 4 decades will be a well written one. God has a pretty good pen hand you know?

PSA: this message was written in the future for my birthday weekend (which was in the past) because I wanted a James Cameron like ending to my 40to40. *Insert evil grin and laugh here*

 

 

 

 

PSA again: Did you buy that? Was that clever and convincing? No? Hater.

Elder Wisdom (from the unlikeliest places)

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40to40: 40 posts for 40 days until turning 40

Below is an excerpt of a piece I wrote for Tribes Magazine. It was sparked by the debate over some comments that Bill Cosby made at an event. This stuck out to me to share because I still eat at that Bojangles by Saint Augustine’s University Campus. There are still community elders there. On any given day you can be given or overhear some of the most interesting insights you will ever be exposed to. I’ve learned that you may not always understand it initially, but there is value there. I still believe it is in those spaces and at those moments that I find the real gems. Leaders, pundits, and trailblazers have earned the platform they have. But you have to also consider that there are also folks who have lived, worked, and fought each day for a better way that can provide you with just as much wisdom.

Now I am not here to spend more unnecessary time dissecting his speeches. We’ve heard the same comments from our parents, grandparents, and any other important elder in our lives. They all lament the state of young people today considering them a generation lost. I know Mr. Cosby is not alone. There are other “Cosbyists” (as I call them) who share some of the same views. They see our state as a direct result of a lack of parenting, mentoring, community, goals, sense of achievement, motivation, and vision. Many are our privileged black middle and upper class that look at the lower middle and lower class and say “carry your weight.”

Now, I am not writing this to agree or disagree. I’m here to ask what is the big deal? Is it that Bill is one of our favorite icons that we spend so much attention on speeches no different than Sunday dinner conversation at Big Mama’s? Is it because there is a fascination with black culture and our experiences, including our dirty laundry? I am here to say I gain so much more from the people who actually live this reality and have a more practical understanding of our everyday struggles than the results of research or products of philanthropy. The people we meet in grocery stores, at restaurants, at community meetings, demonstrations, college campuses, and at holiday dinners.

Let me give an example. I was sitting in Bojangles having just finished my lunch and was working through some concepts for a new piece. A man sitting at the next table saw me with my journals on the table and asked if I was a student. He began to talk about the value of education and his 4 kids that finished or were in college. He had one chemist, one potential chemist, a med school student, and an aspiring lawyer. He seemed to be a hardworking blue-collar father wearing a “super dad” tee shirt. He proceeded to offer me tidbits of knowledge that he had passed on to his children while pushing them to exceed. These were tidbits that inspired them to get the best grades possible and benefit from the doors that opened for them. This is someone who didn’t have money or academic intellectualism to give his children, just love, advice, and support within the framework of a system he saw for what it was. Below are some of the gems he gave to me.

There are eaters and there are readers. In this world there are too many readers. When faced with knowledge you have to decide to eat. You can’t be a spectator. Try going to a restaurant and just reading the menu. It doesn’t fill you up. By the same token, our leaders have to feed us. We need something substantial and practical.

Your faith is yours. You define what it is and how it manifests in your life. You don’t need anyone to tell you how to be a faithful person. You don’t need anyone to tell you about your relationship with your higher power. If we answer to the same father why does he have to keep telling you what to say to me? I can talk to him myself.

You send your child off to school to get an education but you make them smart at home. This system wasn’t made for us so you have to prepare your kids to overcome the obstacles set in their path. You need to value education, but also understand the system we live in and the challenges it presents to youth of color.

 

Leaders make flunkies out of followers. Look at a pack of birds flying south. They form a V and it seems the bird at the peak of the V is the leader. Not if you look closer. You will notice that when that bird gets tired he falls back and another takes his place (He then added an exclamation point with an “Oh my goodness”).

We are the beacons of light. Your heart is the switch that turns that light on. We have to remember that light and shine it whenever we can. It is a gift from heaven, the key to our happiness and the answer to relating to others. If you meet someone and there is no connection, if the switch isn’t working…leave it alone.

At the end, I left that Bojangles feeling like I learned something. Not just from the words he gave me, but the sincerity in which he spoke. I valued the conversation, not knowing the reason he offered the advice. I do know that he said that we meet people for a reason and to be open to the lesson. That day I learned more from him than I could ever learn from “Mr Huxtable” or any popular conservative. These are the lessons that make us the successes we are while Mr. Cosby just gives out a scholarship or passes accolades to those who listened to the voices closest to them.

God bless each one.

Hold On You (The response)

40to40: 40 posts for 40 days until turning 40

I love this song by Ashley Mar Shell. It features my brother Kaze as the leading man. The guest verse is my man Jozeemo. I really respect Ashley’s talent and her grind. Jozee made a joke about me doing a remix. Ashley said she was down with it. I said I should write something in response to the song. It stayed on my mind for a minute. I finally put something down. Maybe it will turn into an alternate version. Check out my response
Hold on You (Dasan Ahanu response)

The small of your back feels like home
No wonder my hands feel so comfortable there
Pulling you closer
Let my embrace make you forget the questions
Kisses like magic
Get lost in the illusion
I got a suggestion
Let’s start undressing
I got a few more tricks up my sleeve
 
I know a good thing when I feel it next to me
It’s why I’m racing home to you
Ain’t no other options
It’s affirmation when I’m alone with you
It’s an easy choice
Can’t you see the conviction in my eyes
Hear the addiction in my voice
 
Hold on
This a long ride
We in this together
I haven’t forgotten that
My grind is for a future we can both share
I’m out there so that we can be where we both want to be
My absence doesn’t mean a thing
It’s just another way for your daydreams to keep starring me
But I promise
I will never be the reason for your nightmares
It’s gone be a celebration when we win
You know
White dresss, black tux
Family and friends right there
 
Until then I’ll be right here
Between the giggles and the moans
I know I spend my days writing these eloquent riddles
But that’s paper thin
At night
I’m trying to keep the mood light
Sucking the big toe and playing with the middle
It’s so simple
 
My muse
You’re the inspiration for my hustle
The vision that pushes my pen
The reason I’m out on the road
Makes it better when I come home again
Wetter when I come home again
Extra special when I….
A moment to recover and baby it’s on again
 
See lady I’m in touch with the soul of you
God broke the mold with you
Don’t get it confused
I’m intoxicated by the whole of you
See I prayed to have somebody like you
Got a dawn’s answer over a horizon
I think the sun stole from you
Like legends of old
It told of you
See I knew you’d be here
Because this is destiny
You couldn’t stop it
That’s God that got hold of you
It’s love that’s got control of you
I can’t take the credit
But I’ll respect, honor, and cherish the blessing
Let this pen write this ode to you

Unthinkable

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Remember that Alicia Keys song that had everyone wanting to take the leap and give love a shot? You know, the one that made people want to do the unthinkable? I do. The idea of that song stuck with me for while. For me, it wasn’t about being willing to take that chance with a new someone. It was about being willing to let go of a previous breakup without losing the ability to still do the unthinkable. So here is my three verse song.

Unthinkable

I’m at this wedding and I’m walking through the vestibule
Truly convinced that I would be the best for you
Wondering what the answer is, tell me what is left to do
Are there any options, for giving you a better view
You said he had your heart, you weren’t giving up the rest of you
If I can’t have the whole you, then part of you will never do
So I’m watching happiness walking down the aisle
Draped in all white as she advances toward a smile
Joy is on her face and love is in his eyes
The moment overwhelms her as she starts to cry
Could that’ve ever been you walking to a happy me
Draped in God’s blessing and promising eternity
All I ever wanted was to love you unconditionally
Ignore the type of pessimist this world has conditioned me
I don’t want the single life I just want a single night
And I don’t need a stage, a notebook, or a single mic
To paint the perfect picture of the way this life’s supposed to be
I can Andy Warhol a vision of monogamy
Frame it in the context of “this is what she’s made of me”
And hang it on my smile waiting for the world to see

I battle with myself my feelings aren’t positive
My heart knows you’re a fighter but my mind wants to argue it
I’m thinking of the answer that you didn’t want to be
My heart saw a blessing but my eyes saw you leave
Considering the nights that you had me on my knees
Asking for your happiness while praying for reprieve
I know heartache is ancient and I should’ve read the Sanskrit
Testifying love, but you just ignored the transcript
I tried to seek conviction, devotion was acquitted
I charged you made me love you, but you said you never did it
So now I got to figure that we got a different destiny
I can’t try it again; you’re immune to double jeopardy

So I see success thinking how you’re living now
I wish for the best, as ridiculous as it sounds
Waiting for the day when you’re walking through the door
With someone who brought a look that I’ve never seen before
My heart will tug a little and my eyes will start to water
I’ll order a drink to put my thoughts back in order
Sip my courage slowly til I’m called to the stage
Recite my insecurities and never look your way
In the midst of handclaps when I know nobody hears
I’ll send a little thank you up to God’s ears
Not for getting through it without falling apart
But for the fact that you found someone to give your heart
For everything that we shared, the lessons you instilled
For knowing that I loved you, and that I love you still
I wont regret the risk, how else you gonna win
I’ll remind myself of that every time I use a pen
Being open to the means will justify the end
And I know that I’ll do the unthinkable again

Feet (a draft)

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40to40: 40 posts for 40 days until turning 40

A draft of a poem I’ve been trying to conquer for a long time now. More edits will come, but I decided to share it now.

Feet

I’m sorry
I don’t know what happened
I promise I was paying attention 
They were right here
I’ve never been forgetful 
Just optimistic
Probably to a fault
I can’t stand to lose anything
But I promise I’ll find them again

I mean
Harriet don’t leave me
I’ll crawl if I have to
It’s not groveling
If it’s for a purpose

I been following the drinking gourd
Wading in the water
But lord knows I ain’t never needed a sweet chariot more
To carry me home

Maybe I left them by the cotton gin
Standing idly by while black intelligence
Became intellectual property
Became patent
Became passage of fugitive acts
Did I abandon them
Cuz the system keep knocking me on my ass

Nat I wish I had found them earlier
I’d have ran with you
Stood with you
Fought with you
But I misplaced them along the way
Got me still searching for them now

I know I was supposed to take care of them
Must’ve got comfortable on this train ride north
But Harlem look like a runway
I’m fashioning optimism 
Gone walk head high
Get em spit shined in resilience
Gone step it up a notch

Gone get all Bojangles dynamic when I find em
But they all milk box missing now
I’m sorry Savoy
Can’t dance my blues away
I didn’t forget the steps
Just don’t know where my freedom is

Washington and Carver say they in them fields
DuBois say they pounding them streets
Garvey say they waiting to touch African soil
Jackie Robinson say they touching bases
Oliver Brown say they was left in court
Someone said they floating in the Tallahatchie river
But aint nothing there but ghosts and guilt

I’m sorry Mr Louis
I thought I was ready to fight
Wanted to move light on em like Sugar Ray
Swing like Sonny Liston
Tell Ali I lost my rumble in these concrete jungles
I don’t know how to get off these ropes  

I’ll be here when you get back Martin
Can’t make Selma on my knees
Even the closest new day 
Is a hop, skip, and jump away
Aint gone be no crawling
Don’t want no wheelchair
Unless it feels like Bus Boycotts, Freedom Rides

Couldn’t make it to the lunch counters
Wasn’t able to sit in
So I guess I’ll sit here
Trying to figure out what I’d stand for
Die for

I’m sorry Gregory 
I know they’re still here somewhere
I can hear them tapping
They calling for rescue
The staccato is sobering
Reminds me that marching can look a little different now

Tell James I think I got it
A shuffle can say it loud
Be black and powerful
Let the world know you got soul
Double entendre to a funky drummers beat

See Bootsie I had it all wrong
Now I got it funked up
Found my platform
Kneehigh in the thick of things
I’m high stepping to the rhythm baby

Bobbito
Check the footwork
Some say I’m insane to step up
I say I got Crazy Legs
But they Rock Steady
Don’t my passion look fly 
In Diadora’s and Shell toes

Tell Mike I found my wings
Renewed my faith
So these airs and this cross I bear
got me ready to make something happen
Aint gone be no more sitting and watching
Courtside seats aint as exciting as I thought
I want a piece of the action

These feet 
Want to walk down an aisle and promise forever
Step up to a podium and promise change is possible
March side by side with hope
Plant themselves in front of a classroom

These feet
Want to play footsies with love
Line dance at my daughter’s wedding
Draw a line in the sand
Fight for a future fitting for her

They feel comfortable on stage
Feel comfortable on the neck of stereotypes
Feel fancy in hard bottoms
Feel fancier in sneakers
Understand what it means
To be outfitted for the moment

For every ancestor
For every struggle
For every visionary
For every intellectual, fighter, teacher
Leader
These feet
Will never stop moving, working, dancing
Until my last breath leaves
And they put me ten toes up

7 Day Love Letter (Sunday)

love-letter-top sun

40to40: 40 posts for 40 days until turning 40

Sunday

You are my daydream. I get lost in the thought of you. My publisher’s clearing house check. I subscribe to the hope that you’ll be delivered to my door. Make my heart financially secure. It’s tired of worrying about paying for past mistakes.

You are my winning lottery number. I’ve scratched at the wall you put over your heart with this hopeless penny. It has a hole where the wish of you has eaten through. Seems pointless but it is all I have left of my daydreams.

You are my job interview. I want to work for our love. I hope that I’ve answered all your questions. I know this position comes with benefits. I want to retire in your arms.

You are my dusk. You are a light fading over a distant horizon leaving me in darkness. Night is your fear of taking this leap of faith with me. I’ll be waiting for dawn.

Sincerely,

Me

I spent a week having uneasy exchanges with the postman
As he cautiously handed me packages marked “return to sender”
You hadn’t changed your address
Just your opinion of our relationship
Each frame returned fractured like my heart
By the following Monday I was praying you would rest
From creating this world of pain
Then the last frame arrived
Like the misleading truth of a serpents advice
I was searching for a slither of proof
You weren’t moving on with your life
I ended up holding 7 fractured frames
Gauze covered heartache in post office cardboard
Like tombs of broken promises
Where I’ve buried my self esteem
I just wanted to let her know I loved her
These letters show I love her
She used to hang on my every word
I figured she could hang these words
Realize the risk wasn’t so absurd
But now it feels like a weeks worth of suicide
I was foolish
You helped me see that
But I’m not alone
Because only a fool receives a blessing from God
And decides to send it back

7 Day Love Letter (Saturday)

love-letter-top sat

40to40: 40 posts for 40 days until turning 40

Saturday

You will be my movement. I’ll organize my resilience and dedication. Get to the grass roots of what you want. Take a working class approach to this labor of love. Being the best I can be for you is a protracted struggle. I’ll do more than show up. Demonstrations are good, but I want to plan more concentrated efforts towards happiness. Whether it’s a civil disobedience towards narrow perceptions of masculinity or sitting in the midst of my insecurities until my pride and mind agree to change….I’m fighting for us.

Sincerely,

Me