International Day of Women : The blessings that come when you show up! šŸ’™ #strengthsourceproject

Browsing through my Facebook feed I come across a notification that a friend tagged me in someone’s post. As one who is both a businesswoman and artist I know a diverse group of people and am a bit picky about what I’m tagged in with the permanence of social media. Much to my surprise I saw the photo taken of me last year posted on the photographer’s Facebook page and appeared both digitally and I’m print on page 5 of the Philadelphia Inquirer!

The #strengthsourceproject is this beautiful collage of photos and stories capturing the moments that built the character and resilience of women of all colors, ages, shapes and class. It’s a brilliant compilation and I’m honored to be a participant.

If only you knew how sad I felt that day. I had just found out my daughter was diagnosed with dysgraphia, a severe learning disorder that makes it difficult and frustrating for her, an advanced reader to process writing. The same exact day my son’s school counselor called about him exhibiting signs of anxiety and depression (the dance partners of a highly gifted and intuitive brain), avoiding teachers and classes as a result. As their sole caretaker l was overwhelmed with the decisions I had to make on my own knowing I would also not receive the financial support.

I was going to cancel the meeting I set with Carrie for the photo because I just wanted to go somewhere and cry. I wore bright colors on purpose to lift my spirits. She was so warm and compassionate when I met her in Fishtown by Franny Lous Porch and reading the other women’s stories really gave me the strength to deal with it all.

And oh the blessings that have come because I showed up! Aside from this acknowledgement in the paper, since that day my children have benefited from angels in the form of teachers and therapists. My daughter has been tutored by a retired teacher for free and my son’s therapist only charges me a tenth of his normal fee because I was transparent and unafraid to speak my truth and ask for help.

My strength is my truth and I’m grateful that my transparency is able to help other women. The stories on the blog are powerful. I hope you get to read mine too. Please share your favorite in the comments. It’s okay if it’s not mine. I’m every woman šŸ˜Š

Not One (New original poetry by Toni Love)

 

Mothers of Black Sons and all who support in solidarity are welcome to join us as we stand together United against racial injustice, police brutality and inner city violence. We need your collective voice, wisdom and support to effect change. Please come out Sunday, October 16th at 12noon. We will march from Broad and Cecil B Moore Avenue to 1401 JFK Boulevard, Philadelphia. In addition to being a poet, I am the mother of a young blackĀ male. I am honored to be on the program and will recite this piece as well as my poem “Born of Warriors” written after the #PhiladoCastille murder.

MOBS can be contacted via email at : millionmomsphilly@gmail.com. Please also donate as little or as much as you can toĀ MOBS Go Fund Me which will help coverĀ the cost of permits and travel to our state and US capitols. Gathering as one unit is an essential part of the healing process. I hope you come.

~Toni #loveistheanswer

Not OneĀ Ā Ā 

Not mine, son
Not mine

Not my son
Not my brother, nephew, uncle or current lover
Not my neighbor cousin or future husband

Not mine, not hers
Not anybody’s
Son

I am not saying “no more”
I am saying “not one”

We with the millions of ancestors behind us
Forge a force you will feel into centuries

Your gated communities will not be safe
Your land will not be prosperous
Your wealth will not sustain you
Your privilege will not save you

We are millions today plus millions from centuries before us
We are far more than your eyes can see

We gather together
Seen and unseen
When mothers pray
The heavens come forth to listen

So rest assured and be forewarned
There will be a price for your descendants to pay
If you ever look at our sons in a disrespectful way

We, collectively are not playing with you today

No more
Not one
Not
One
Son

(c) Toni Love Publishing

 

 

 

Born of Warriors- Original Poetry inspired by the #PhilandoCastile murder

Born of Warriors

Now is not the time to sit down and grow weary

For we are born of warriors

Trained on soil rich with the spirits that passed before us

We were selected from our tribe and trained for battle

Even stripped of our land, our riches and our families

We stood strong ushering the chained weary in front of us

Walking miles to the beach to meet our battle with the sea

Some were not strong enough to endure the nausea swaying beneath our ribs

Diseased corpses laying by, vicious attacks of salt water on open wounds

Watching the constant raping of wombs and deep screams of torment

Many were not trained for this battle and vanished into the sea at night for comfort

They were not capable of taking the journey so they took their own lives instead

But we did not

We are born of warriors

We were trained for this

Taught how to survive capture

How to lead without authority

Torment and torture we withstood

We are born of warriors

So this is nothing new

We will always come up against those who never wish to see us free

They have seen us rule, prosper and conquer

They seek to degrade, demoralize and destroy our power

We have forgotten who we are

But they have not

They fear us because we are born of warriors

Now is not the time to be paralyzed in fear

Queens expect their sons to walk off into battle

Their tears rolling down the backs of their Kings as they prepare sons for their destiny

Never is the battle fair

Never is the outcome expected

But we must not sit and fight battles with feathers

Now is the time to stand up and fight

Remember who you are

Your ancestors did not fall weak and die before reaching land

Nor did they jump to their demise

They stood and fought and ran and rallied and walked and planned and waited and revolted but they did not sit down

The only reason you are here is because they fought for your life

Never forget that some will never cease at trying to take your freedom

You were born for this

You were trained for the battle

You are here solely because you are born of warriors

Those who seek to destroy you have not forgotten

You descended from Kings and Queens

Born a warrior
Ā© M. Tonita Austin aka Toni Love 7/7/2016

9-11 Emergency – Original Poetry

wpid-img_20150911_081424.jpg9-11 Emergency

This poem was written duringĀ a trip to New York City in 2009. As the taxi cab stopped in traffic I looked up and I was right in front of Engine 34. I felt the energy inĀ the building and these words came to me…

Back in New York

and nothing is the same

I know it’s been more than ten years

I expected that a lot had changed

The taxi cab was shiny and new

No familiar ganja or curry scent lingering in the air

No arrogant driver to talk to

Either from fear of a bad review or the thick bulletproof shield

that assured there was no conversation to share

The streets were still dirty, the buildings still grey and stoic

Yet the soul of the City had changed and I almost couldn’t put my finger on it

Until I passed by Ladder 34

This is where the City lost its soul

All of the years I spent walking these streetsĀ riding in taxi cabs and liverys I had never passed this place

The building was so lifeless

The pain, the heartacheĀ washed the color from the red paint

The emotion felt just driving by in the cab almost made me faint

I wanted to stop the driver and run to the building to perform CPR

Jump-start the hearts and souls of the firefighters inside waiting for the next emergency

and praying to God that they are not called to another tower

And lose what’s left of the hope they cling to each and every hour

Sadness overwhelms me as I see the fighters from the past

running to get ready to save us from the blast

They never knew what hit us

why the towers were coming down

never thought twice about the danger that awaited them underground

Not knowing who was in danger

They didn’t hesitate to answer the call

All of our brave and dedicated servants showed up for us

I pray for the souls of them all

(c) M Tonita Austin aka Toni Love 3/30/2009

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