Are We Our Brother’s Keeper? Why I Love Black Men…

Hello World,

First of all, I must say don’t take this post the wrong way…I love all people because we were ALL created in God’s image…But I would be lying if I didn’t confess that I have a special love for black men…Nikki Giovanni’s poem “Beautiful Black Men,” which I came across when I was an adolescent perfectly captures just how I feel….

While the imagery and pop culture references are somewhat dated, Nikki Giovanni captures what captivates me about black men in her beautiful poem. But black men, particularly black boys, are in danger…We have to look no further than the examples of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, black teenagers who were senselessly slain before they were able reach manhood, to see that we are at an impasse for black boys…

This is one of the reasons why I’m so very proud of President Obama for creating the “My Brother’s Keeper Initiative,” which will support black boys in helping them reach manhood and achieve success.  Below are just a few of the poignant statements President Obama made on Thursday about why he created this critical program…

  • But the plain fact is there are some Americans who, in the aggregate, are consistently doing worse in our society — groups that have had the odds stacked against them in unique ways that require unique solutions; groups who’ve seen fewer opportunities that have spanned generations.  And by almost every measure, the group that is facing some of the most severe challenges in the 21st century in this country are boys and young men of color.
  • As a black student, you are far less likely than a white student to be able to read proficiently by the time you are in 4th grade.  By the time you reach high school, you’re far more likely to have been suspended or expelled.  There’s a higher chance you end up in the criminal justice system, and a far higher chance that you are the victim of a violent crime.  Fewer young black and Latino men participate in the labor force compared to young white men.  And all of this translates into higher unemployment rates and poverty rates as adults.
  • That’s why, in the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin verdict, with all the emotions and controversy that it sparked, I spoke about the need to bolster and reinforce our young men, and give them the sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them. And I’m grateful that Trayvon’s parents, Sybrina and Tracy, are here with us today, along with Jordan Davis’s parents, Lucy and Ron.
  • Below is a video of President Obama talking about the new initiative. Isn’t the image of President Obama, our nation’s first black president, flanked by boys of color, a powerful one? I love it…

For those that don’t know, the phrase “my brother’s keeper” comes from the Genesis story of Cain and Abel in which God asks Cain about the location of his brother Abel, whom Cain murdered due to jealously. Cain said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” Of course, he knew because he murdered him. And the Lord punished him for his crime. As demonstrated in this story, we are ALL our brother’s keepers…If we see someone struggling, we cannot ignore it, we must help or face God’s judgment…

Any thoughts?

Passion 4 Christ Movement aka P4CM presents “RHETORIC 2013,” a spoken word and poetry event…

Hello World,

Circa 1997 when “Love Jones” debuted, I became obsessed with spoken word and poetry for a while, traveling to all of the hidden spoken word and poetry joints in the A, dating a man who knew how to spit fire and even crafting a poem or two myself…(I even gave one of my poems to the poetry goddess Nikki Giovanni, and she wrote me back…Read about in “He Just Was Not That Into Me…aka Nikki Giovanni likes me…so there…”) This was all in my early ’20s…While I don’t fancy myself a poet anymore, I still love the art form, and I love to discover new poets whose words and delivery can take you there…

I first discovered Janette McGhee, who is better known as “MissTerious Janette…ikz” (pronounced mysterious genetics), a dynamic Christian spoken word artist and poet who wrote and performed “I Will Wait For You” in 2011. In this poem, she beautifully captured the absolute angst a Christian woman feels as she attempts to wait for the man God will send her rather than just trying to make any ole man the one…She performed this poem in the P4CM (Passion for Christ Movement) Lyricist Lounge…Read about in “Living Single – The Panel Discussion, The Poem & The Show.”

And below is an awesome poem entitled “Ready or Not” by Janette…ikz and Ezekiel performed at a PC4M event. This is the official description of the poem  – “Christ is coming back for a bride without spot wrinkle or blemish. This poem by Ezekiel and Janette…ikz asks you if you’ll be Ready or Not. All to often though, we try to do the cleaning and the planning when we Christ should take the lead. We say let him lead and the wedding day will be just as it should be… all for His glory.”

Well, PC4M is preparing for RHETORIC 2013, the ministry’s latest spoken word and poetry event, and are looking for submissions…Below are the details for submitting an audition video if you are interested…

RHETORIC Objective and Guidelines

The objective of P4CM’s RHETORIC (formerly Lyricist Lounge) is to glorify God in and with our craft of spoken word; edify and challenge believers to grow in bearing the image of Jesus in our thinking, our attitudes, our emotions, our speech, and our action; and minister to the lost the hopelessness and consequences of sin and their utter need for Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. It is these objectives–the supremacy of God’s glory, bearing Christ’s image, the Gospel, and the excellence in our craft–that have made our event the largest Christian spoken word event in the world.

RHETORIC Guidelines

  1. All poems are to be in agreement with P4CM’s Faith Statement and not emphasizing controversial doctrines (e.g. predestination) or non-essentials (e.g. spiritual gifts).
  2. All poems are to be free of offensive and obscene language. If approved, you can use normally offensive language that may be purposed in the context of the poem (e.g. Jackie Hill’s poem on being a stud; the use of “nigga” in debunking it’s cultural coolness and showing it’s racially degrading nature; “rape” and its affects; etc). The use of this approved language is never to be promoted, but understood in light of the poem’s context. If an approved offensive term can be changed without affecting the purpose of the poem, then changing it to something non-offensive will be encouraged.
  3. Every poet (open mic and featured) will take a year off in-between RHETORIC performances (e.g. on 2011, off 2012, on 2013, off 2014, etc). If we ever have RHETORIC more than once a year, it would be at least one RHETORIC off (unless otherwise noted).
  4. Poem lengths are as follows: Open mic artists must have poems lasting 5 minutes or less.  Featured poets poems are to be between 5 and 10 minutes.
  5. Every poet who performs will need a pastoral reference. This only applies to those poets selected to perform. A pastoral reference is not needed for an audition submission, but be prepared to provide one in case you are selected. This way we have a referral from your pastor (or two or more of their local church leaders instead) saying that your life matches what you are ministering, that you’re active and involved in the life of your church, and under someone’s leadership/authority and accountable.


As long as each poet agrees to and are within these guidelines, you have the artistic freedom for selecting and writing a poem to be performed.

Enter Your Audition Video

If you’d like to audition to be an open mic poet or you have a suggestion for a featured poet, email a link to a YouTube or Vimeo video to  We will not open attachments or links to video only on Facebook.  Please send us the poem you’d like to perform.  We prefer video not audio because it helps us see your potential stage presence so send us your best performance with the best recording with good audio.  Do not send an edited video.  Please just send a live performance.  We plan to finalize our poets by early April and we’re constantly ranking and evaluating them so please submit your poems as soon as you can for consideration.  We’ll get back with you after we’ve looked at all of the submissions and go from there.

Any thoughts?

He Just Was Not That Into Me…aka Nikki Giovanni likes me…so there…

Hello World!!!

Since Valentine’s Day is just a week away, I have decided the next two posts will be about dating, love, marriage – basically all things gushy and romantic…I love the idea of Valentine’s Day, but I’ve had very few that actually involved a significant other…oh well…

So since a movie version of one of my new favorite relationship books came out last night, I decided to also pay homage to the book – “He’s Just Not That Into You – The No Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys” by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo. This book is a must have in decoding guy speak and behavior when it comes to dating!  A lot of it is common sense, but sometimes, when you’re dating, common sense seems to be the first thing that goes out the window…Here’s my favorite chapter from the book, He’s Just Not That Into You If He’s Not Calling You. So the book is written like a series of letters written by women asking for dating advice from Greg Behrendt.  One woman wrote,

Dear Greg,

You’re dumb. A guy who I’m going out with who (who I asked out, Greg, by the way) is totally import and totally busy. He’s a music video director and travels and has long shoots and lots and lots of responsibilities. Sometimes when he’s working, I don’t hear from him for days and days. He’s really busy, Greg! Some guys are just really, really busy! Don’t you ever have really, really busy days? I’ve learned to live with it and not give him any sh&*,  because I know that’s the price I pay for going out with someone really successful and hot and busy. Why are telling these women to be so needy?

So here is Greg’s response:

Dear Nikki,

Good to hear from you again.  Well, not really. Listen Nikki. Really busy is another way to say “just not that into you.”  Totally important is another way to say, “you’re unimportant.” How great that you’ve “landed” someone  that even you think is out of your league. Too busy and important to ask you out or call you- what a catch. Congratulations on your quasi-relationship! It must feel amazing to know that you’ve been programmed into the super hot and important busy guy’s cell phone, even if he never uses it to call you. You must be the envy of every woman he’s really dating.

Ouch! I think Greg (see how I call him Greg like he’s my personal friend or something 🙂 )mentioned in the book that if a guy doesn’t call you or contact you with cell phones and all the other communication tools that are available, he’s just not that into you. I mean unless you’re President Obama, men really can’t make the excuse that they’re too busy to call…And I’m sure that Barack calls Michelle every day when he’s out of town…she look like she ain’t havin’ it any other way…

Here are some of the other chapter titles: He’s Just Not That Into You If He’s Not Asking You Out, He’s Just Not That Into You If He Only Wants To See You When He’s Drunk and He’s Just Not That Into You If He’s Disappeared on You.

So in this post, I will give my own example of the chapter, He’s Just Not That Into You If He’s Disappeared on You. This is how I remember it happening. The year was 1996, the year I graduated from college. The summer after graduation as a matter of fact. I was partying on a Friday, I think, with my girls at some club…the name escapes me right now. It used to be where Vision used to be in the A. I think some new condos are in the spot now though…I was looking good. My hair was in the infamous Halle Berry cut. I had on my cherry red lipstick. Why I ever wore red lipstick is beyond me. I was tight in the way that only someone in their early ’20s can be. And while I was trying to act cool and dance at the same time, I saw him. Lawdy, Lawdy, he was fine.  He was tall, bronze and muscled with curly hair. All my girls had to give me dap when we exchanged the digits.

So I think we hung out once before it all went down. I think he lived in the Little Five Points area, one of the most artsy and eclectic neighborhoods in the A. I think he was some sort of artist. Anyway, he had a forest green Eclipse. Do those cars still exist? And we rode around the area in his car. And I was feeling it all…Y’all know I was! Anyway, we had a few phone conversations and decided to meet one night at Yin Yang Cafe, which is now Apache Cafe, I guess. (The turnover of clubs in the A is kinda sad…) Anyway, so I showed up and he didn’t….And he didn’t call again…Hopefully, I didn’t call back again, but I probably called back at least once…hey you live, learn, develop a healthy self-esteem, etc.

So I was so mad that I wrote a poem about it. At the time, I fancied myself a budding poet and read some of my work at different poetry readings around town. It was a very short-lived phase of my life actually. So I wrote this this poem and here it goes.

Anger Is A Great Liberator – written in 1996

Ever wanted a man so much

you felt your breath lessen every time he opened his mouth.

Every single time, you dialed his digits,

no matter, how matter-of-fact he sounded,

you pushed reason in the back of your mind

to make room for thoughts of biceps, triceps, curls and whirls in his forest green Eclipse.

At the monitor, to-do list easily in sight, yet you didn’t

and on the way home from work, you shook yourself to loosen his image from your head.

Walking in the door, no red lights, so you cooked dinner,

itching to do it, how soon is too soon to call?

Budget gourmet thrown to the side, taking strides to the phone,

how did you get here, pick it up, please, don’t let the number of rings reveal

how bad you wanted to only hear his voice.

Smiling, later dancing, he asked you out

to meet him in the center of a dark, jazz-filled cafe that you hoped served gratification for dessert.

So you sat at the table, made beautiful by a fake flame, smiling vacantly at the band…

while tapping your feet and moving with the notes

knowing that soon you would hear real music

as his masculine footsteps made his way to you…

Ummm, still listening to the band, now accompanied by a box-headed man saying

Your lips are smiling, but your eyes are mad…but yeah, can I get that number?

No…turn your head, the sexy dread-headed man with the guitar sustains your smile

But your eyes blaze with the knowledge that one, look down, maybe two or three hours have


And the eclipse hadn’t happened..he didn’t come.

But Anger came, with her strong, fiery curvy self,

moving against a red dress, she held your hands first,

then began to loosen the chokehold around your neck

while repeating, “If I didn’t come, you wouldn’t be free.”

“Get up,” she said. “And straighten that dress.”

You stood up, looked down to smooth the wrinkles in your own booty tight dress.

When you looked up, she was gone, but you laughed and said, “I’ll remember.”

You twisted out of the club, only looking back to see whose eyes followed you.

Two by two, by two, maybe even enough to fill an ark

“Naw,” you laughed. “Y’all ain’t gonna pimp me like that.”

You said to all the eyes.

The artist is emancipated and so are you

You got in your car, and sped down I-85

Anger is a great liberator

Even reading my poem now is therapeutic…so a few months after writing that poem, I went to a book signing for the great poet, Nikki Giovanni. While she signed my copy of her book, “Love Poems”, I quietly asked if she would take a look at my poem and tell me her opinion of my work. I wrote my address on the poem in case she wanted to send her thoughts to me later. AND SHE DID!!!  On Feb. 12, 1997, she wrote

Dear Jacqueline Holness,

Wow!  Anger is a great liberator. Good work! Keep it up!

Yours In Poetry,

Nikki Giovanni

Can you believe it? I still can’t! How perfectly sweet and generous of her! So there Mr. I-Can’t-Even-Remember-Your-Name!  I’m glad you never showed up because your standing me up inspired me to write a poem that Nikki Giovanni said was good.

Any thoughts?