Category Archives: Self imaage

Disconnecting In Order To Reconnect To What Matters

By Michelle E. Brown

Originally Printed 3/5/2015 in issue 2310 of Between The Lines Newspaper

We have become so connected by text, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all the rest, that sometimes we, myself included, forget about personal contacts.

I’ve followed relationships; seen them begin, flourish, sometimes fall apart, then rekindle – often with accompanying photos – on-line.

It’s like we’ve all become Santa Claus – knowing when our friends are sleeping; when they’re awake; when they’ve been bad or good. Especially hoping they’ve been good and if not, for goodness sake, not to have taken photos because they’ll be all over the web for the world to see.

My data usage exceeds my actual minutes because, like so many of my friends, I just send a text. And when I have something juicy to say, I’ve figured out how to relay it in under 140 characters, including hash tags for maximum impact, via Twitter.

When asked about the last time I talked or heard from someone, I often find myself citing a tweet, text or post. I feel like I’m in touch but…

In recent months I have heard about engagements, weddings, births, job promotions and other events mostly on Facebook. It has been generally happy news.

Most of the time it hasn’t come as a surprise. I’ve replied “Congratulations” and then hit send. I’ve looked at the pictures, hit like, smiled and shared them with mutual friends. Some of the more outrageous posts even merit a comment – “OMG,” “WTF” and/or some personal remarks.

Sometimes the news hasn’t been good – illnesses and, unfortunately, deaths. At these moments, “like” just doesn’t get it and comments fall short. Thinking about the losses of Charity Hicks, Robert Clark, Tito Gutierrez, Chantay Legacy Leonard and Santiago Lopez, I have to say these have been the hardest.

We make friends; begin and end relationships; make announcements; organize; mobilize and get our local, national and our all-important entertainment news online.

The world not only is now flat but, with a click of a mouse, we can also connect with people and events across the globe. All this connectivity, all this knowledge at our finger tips… one would think all our problems should be over. In some instances, they seem to be exacerbated as we lose our connection with one another.

Are friends whom we only know in the Facebook World – no matter how many likes/shares – dearer or closer than our “ride or die” friends from ‘back in the day’?

Are we getting beyond the posts, tweets and photos to get the details, to act and/or react beyond the one-click option? And after the firestorm of likes, posts, tweets and hash tags, how soon do we forget about the people?

Where are those kidnapped Nigerian school girls? How has life changed for the thousands living with ALS after the success of the “Ice Bucket” challenge? If “All Lives Matter,” why are members of the black community and transgender community still in peril?

Don’t get me wrong, I believe in social media – its ability to connect, inform, motivate and even empower us. But I believe in the power of the personal.

I believe in the power of real conversations with actual friends, checking in on one another and giving real hugs. What if we went out of our way to make a new acquaintance in the real world, like getting to know your neighbor, saying hello to a stranger and smiling (I mean actually smiling with your mouth… not an emoji).

As much as I love looking at photos and sharing with my friends, I believe it is just as important – if not more so – to live our LGBTQ lives out in the world so that everyone can see we – our loves, our families and our lives – are as diverse and unique as any other, and our quest for equality is just and right.

I am no stranger to the selfie, but more important than the likes from friends are the visible changes in attitude from people when my love and I exchange a hug, kiss or hold hands in the real world while at dinner, walking down the street or even traveling.

Maybe it’s time to come out again – out from behind our computers, tablets and smartphones and be out in our communities.

Let’s use social media as a platform to dive back into the lives of our friends, to strengthen the connections within our community, to share news from near and far that will educate, empower and remind us that oppression is interlinked and cannot be solved alone.

But more importantly, let’s use social media to tap into our intersectionality, then move our hearts and minds to get off the couch and get out there to build a better world that, even though it has been flattened by technology, is richer by the diversity found in our online worlds.

Michelle E. Brown is a public speaker, activist and author. Her books are available at bookstore.authorhouse.com or http://www.mychangeiam.com. You can also follow her at http://www.twitter.com/mychangeiam.

Posted in Arts & Entertainment, Black identity, Creating Change, lgbt, literature, Love, marriage equality, Pop Culture, Queer, Self imaage, Social Media, Transgender, Women, World events, youth | Leave a comment

It’s here!!! My new book available for purchase online

My new book of poetry “Three Layers & A Brassiere” is available for purchase online! Book signing is in planning stage but get your’s today and receive a special gift at the book signing.

Order at:

http://bookstore.authorhouse.com/Products/SKU-000956771/Three-Layers-and-a-Brassierre.aspx

Book Over view:

On a frigid November weekend in 2012, I took a trip to Toronto, Ontario, Canada. My plan had been to catch a train, hit the city and just wander about taking in the sights. I wanted a lost weekend, to wander around to find something—just what I really didn’t know. But these uncertain plans took an unexpected turn when, instead, I hitched a ride with a friend.

I met an amazing woman named Gwen who was in her eighties, and over the course of the weekend, she shared stories of her remarkable life. One afternoon, we were heading out, and her family, being protective as families can be, gathered sweaters, scarves, and jackets and proceeded to try to convince Gwen to put them all on. Her response: “I’ve got three layers and a brassiere, that’s enough to keep me warm.”

On the ride back to Detroit, I thought about Gwen her life and the three stages of life—childhood, adulthood, and those final days.  Maybe all we need are those three layers, not all those mountains of things, just to see us through to warm our hearts, our spirits, and a brassiere to hold the memories.

Order at:

http://bookstore.authorhouse.com/Products/SKU-000956771/Three-Layers-and-a-Brassierre.aspx

Posted in Arts & Entertainment, Black women, Creative Writing, Detroit, Detroit Bankruptcy, Detroit Spirit, lgbt, Love, marriage equality, Pop Culture, Queer, Self imaage, Women | Leave a comment

On Voting: New poetry for my new year

I Vote Because

By Michelle E. Brown

Because they had no voice

When brought over in those chains.

Sold, beaten, traded

Eyes cast down shuffling by

As they silently swallowed pride.

 

Because they rode the back of the bus

Having services denied.

Colored toilets, colored fountains

Suffering indignities just to get by.

 

Because they marched for freedom

While being beaten and knocked down

Water cannons, dog bites, night sticks

To deny their civil rights.

 

Because their voices were silenced

Before they could make their mark

Four little girls in Birmingham

Trayvon, Ayanna, Renisha, Michael

Our stand in Ferguson

For babies yet to come

 

I vote to make a difference

I vote to make a change

I vote for this imperfect union

I vote in all their names.

 

Because of them it matters

For me to be a part of the game

Not sitting on the sidelines

To cast aspersions and merely complain

 

I might not see the difference

Or live to see the change

But because of them I do it

I vote so their lives were not in vain.

Posted in 2014 Elections, Black identity, Black women, Creating Change, ENDA, hate crime, lgbt, literature, marriage equality, NN14, Pop Culture, Self imaage, World events | Leave a comment

Poetry for Detroit – For our Detroit

WAGE LOVE 

By Michelle E. Brown

Her streets no longer lined with trees

Branches arching across streets

Paved with hopes and dreams

Now minefields of disrepair

Potholes, broken sidewalks

 

Lots and playgrounds strewn with litter

Vacant lots, crumbling buildings

No neighbors sitting on stoops sharing stories

No quartets under streetlamps singing songs

Store fronts sit vacant

While residents wait for buses

Always late for a trip to no where

 

She is maligned, misrepresented,

Violated, raped

Stripped of her authority

She weeps

As her people suffer

As her people thirst

She watches

Managed neglect for the benefit of profits

But she’s a queen.

 

Her majesty does not lie in institutions

Credit ratings, political wrangling

Her majesty cannot be bankrupted

Because she’s a queen

Of, for and by the people

She is the people

And she/they are rich

 

Rich in spirit, rich in art

Feeding her people from gardens

Growing in forgotten lots

Entrepreneurs, innovators, dreamers

Rebuilding neighborhoods

Re-spiriting communities

Calling her people, all people

Black, Brown, White, Young, Old

From across the street

From around the world

To rise up, to stand up

Not in war, but with voices raised

To wage love

 

She is a queen

She is Detroit.

Posted in 2014 Elections, Black identity, Creative Writing, Detroit, Detroit Bankruptcy, Detroit Spirit, literature, Love, NN14, Self imaage, World events | Tagged | Leave a comment

MOCK

By Michelle E. Brown (For Transgender Day of Visibility 3/26/14)

Daddy wanted a son

A man child, legacy bearer

A son to toss a ball, cast a rod

Share manly things around the campfire

While cleaning guns

Daddy wanted a son

Momma wanted a daughter

A woman child, baby girl

Pretty curls, frills and dolls

She’d teach her to cook, to sew

To preen and be coy

Share womanly things

While getting mani-pedis

Momma wanted a daughter

I sat amongst the stars

Hearing their longings

Seeing their dream

Looking  down, pondering

I want to be me

Unfettered by sexual identity

Not playing roles in their boxes

Safe from lines drawn by intellect and reason

Decidedly,  undecided

Free

If I must choose

I choose to stay here

Free

Just me

But daddy wants a son

Momma wants a daughter

Earth wants my presence

So I must leave my heavenly sanctuary

Pushing me, pulling me

Traveling towards the light

Where daddy wants a boy

Momma wants a girl

Doctor opens his mouth to pass judgment

Pronounce life’s sentence upon me

What is it

Is it boy

Is it girl

I open my mouth and shout

Shout for those who came before

For those who will come after

Before the verdict is given

STOP!

Do not bind me with your biases

Your preconceived notions of

Who I am

How I should be

I am not it

Not boy, nor girl

I am a baby

Let me, be me

“I was born a baby, not a boy” Janet Mock 02/06/2014

Posted in Black women, Creative Writing, lgbt, literature, Love, Queer, Self imaage, Transgender, Women | Leave a comment