My Opinions

Fist Power

Eyes rolled back, collapse.
Cling to air, fight back.
Fingers lunge to gouge their eyes,
Weaken them, retrieve your position.

You slept on them, dreaming lazily,
They woke rejuvenated,
Staying woke; silence fuelled new found strength,
Exercised around your defunct resistance bands.

Strength not in numbers, but in few.
Sturdy metal coursing through them,
Almost indestructible,
Abilities bestowed by misguided sources.

Snapping out of your slumber too late,
Their limb had shot out, grabbed you by the jugular,
Squeezing, tightening, gripping
Bringing you to your knees.

You will bend to their routine.

Shaniqua Marie

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Looking Back on The Corner

Earlier this year, I started on a journey of reading one of the most heart-wrenching, raw and powerful books I’ve ever picked up.  David Simon & Ed Burns’ The Corner had been on my reading list for a long while, but it was only this year that I finally lifted the cover and began turning the pages, taking me to the gritty corners of Baltimore.

This was a world that I was already familiar with after watching The Wire, which coincidentally was created by Simon and Burns.  The Wire is a show that has a special place in my heart and tugged at my heart-strings a number of times, so much so I’m surprised they didn’t come apart.  However, The Corner did so much more than that, because these were the lives of real people unfolding and unraveling in front of my eyes.

Reading this book was a process that took a whole lot of reflection, which was necessary after the completion of each part, because this book is seriously heavy.  I needed time to think over all of the situations that had been brought to my attention, consider the utter brokenness of the system and sometimes cry a little in despair or anger.

Anger was a common feeling while reading The Corner.  My anger was not only directed at the system, but also the members of society who look down on those who are caught up in this drug culture, without actually wanting to help or even accept that they are part of the problem.  This is a dangerous, heartbreaking culture that no one should have to be part of, but unfortunately many are and it is a cycle that is beyond difficult to break.

One of my stand out passages for The Corner reads:

“…We’re furious at the drugging and terrified by the shooting and unnerved at the notion that unless something is done, it won’t be contained, that this horror show will creep beyond the rotting cores of cities.  We have lost patience with the idea of our own culpability, with the corruptive message that accompanies the bribe.  For three decades, we bought them off with the small coinage of charity at the beginning of every month, telling them they were not necessary, that their nation could do without them.  Now, with that lesson of helplessness learned and learned well, we feel entitled to say that we can no longer avoid the coins.”

I began to realise that those on the corners are in a country of their own, ostracised from the United States and living by their own rules.  Their life is nothing like the lives of others and trying to get out of that life, off those corners, is like entering into foreign territory.  What I think broke my heart the most was reading about individuals trying to get clean or break free of the corner life, but finding themselves right back where they started, because being back in the “real” world was too difficult and complicated.

That isn’t helped by a government and the other powers that be who simply do not understand or have the best interests of these individuals stuck in the corner world at heart.  As I read the final parts today, this segment caused fierce anger to burn up inside of me:

“Just before Christmas, a few months after Fran had celebrated a full year of being clean, she was laid off — the result of a federal audit of the detox center.  It seemed that the grant money funding BRC required all counselors to be fully trained and qualified; to preserve its budget, the center was forced to let go of some of its best and most reliable staffers, men and women who had survived the corner and were now using that experience to great effect.  Fran, Antoinette, and about a dozen others were corner veterans on a hero’s journey, trying to salvage something of themselves, trying to give a little back.  The government, being the government, could not see it.”

You see, this paragraph – like the whole book – remains incredibly relevant today not only in the US, but also in the UK and many other countries in the world.  Problems surrounding the lower class continue to persist while those in power continue to thrive off it and act as if they are coming up with solutions, when it is blatant that their solutions do not work.  More and more of the same was a major issue in The Corner, and I’m sure that it is an issue that continues to persist today.  It genuinely makes me sick.

These are human beings and members of society who deserve to be treated as such – it was evident that many of them did not want to be in that corner life, but what other alternative did they have?  As I mentioned earlier, breaking away from the corner is no easy feat.  Getting an insight into their lives was honestly a privilege and it broke my heart to see the tragic endings for many of them, particularly for one individual who I was especially rooting for – I was tearing up by the end.

The Corner is honestly one of the most devastatingly, beautiful pieces of work I have had the opportunity to read.  It has vastly opened my mind and made me more adamant that we should not put labels on others, or judge others by the labels put on them.  We have no idea what life can be like for other individuals and we don’t know how we would act if we were in the same situation.

If you have not read this book already, I seriously suggest that you do, because it is something that we can all learn from.  I challenge you to be the same person you were before reading by the time you get to the end.

Getting to Me

People are getting to me, particularly guys.  I don’t want it to be the case and I try to put those negative feelings at bay, but I cannot help it.  There are certain individuals who do the most infuriating things or act in a certain way that bothers me, which makes me feel some type of way.

Like I’ve said before, I cannot always control my feelings and I cannot help how I feel about people, especially as I watch the way some of them behave.  I’m tired of the attitudes that I’m forced to deal with or weird antics in friendships, so I never actually know where I stand.  I’m sick of all the lies and false promises, and please do not get me started on the countless clones and fakes walking around.

Yet what gets to me the most is guys, which seems to be a common occurrence in my life, and probably the lives of so many other females.  Too many guys behave in the most ridiculous, annoying and confusing ways, making me constantly wonder if I will ever find someone in this lifetime.

The majority of males I come across are incredibly selfish — everything needs to be on their terms, on their time and excuse me if anyone brings up their faults or mistakes, because every word should be what they want to hear.  I’m tired of guys saying girls and relationships are drama, simply because they cannot handle the truth or a little criticism.  Half of the time, it is them who starts the drama.

There are also too many guys who have a problem with holding a conversation — I’m not even going to stretch to meaningful conversation, because they don’t possess the ability to get to that level.  I want to be able to talk to someone and have the conversation flow, without having to tell them what I’ve been doing over and over again or deal with monosyllabic responses.

However, guys have no problem finding something to say when it comes to the subject of relationships or sex.  I don’t understand why guys think it is okay to ask if a female is a virgin, particularly during the second conversation in their lifetime, and then require a full explanation to go with the answer.  I cannot comprehend why they need to be so intrusive or why sex is a major factor on the forefront of their minds.  It makes me seriously question the motives of the male in question.

Then there are the men who don’t want to get into their feelings and refuse to open up to you, or the men who are way up in their feelings and get emotional about everything.  There are the guys who are overly forceful or forward, and the guys who are too passive and afraid to make their move.  And there are the guys who are manipulative, dishonest, confused about what they want or straight up disrespectful.

To be fair, there’s probably a lot more I could say, but I don’t want to keep on bashing guys, because there are actually some good ones out there and us females aren’t perfect either — we have plenty of flaws and issues.  However, it is guys that have been getting to me more than anything recently and I’ve wanted to express this for a little while.

All I want is for a man to step up and prove me wrong, because I am tired of giving guys the benefit of the doubt and finding out they are the same as everyone else.  I’m tired of giving guys a chance and having them throw it back in my face.  I want to be able to put my trust in someone and I want to be able to feel deeply for someone again, but I feel that it is a long time coming and almost out of reach.