Last night in class
UCLA Instructor: So you’re moving over by USC? I just don’t feel safe over there.
(Meaning you’re not safe in residential communities of working class citizens who happen to be People of Color?)
Me: Well I’m Black, so…
UCLA Instructor: (blank stare, 2 minutes of uncomfortable silence. Uncomfortable for her.)
UCLA Instructor: So does that make you bulletproof?
Me: It makes me Immune. (turns to classmates to discuss something else, so that she’s painfully aware that this conversation is as done as her antiperspirant).
My UCLA classmates: So are the three roommates in your script…People of Color?
UCLA classmates: (deep sigh of relief, as if they just got the correct response on Jeopardy)
Oh you thought I let them off the hook that easy? You must not know I was born in Biloxi Mississippi?
Me: Moving forward, like every class session, for the next two quarters. You should Always ASSume that ALL of my characters are People of Color (unless otherwise explicitly stated). Similar to how I am to always assume yours are white. Good night.
I entered into UCLA’s Professional Program for Writing for Television prepared but not prepared (if that makes sense. Kinda like a teenager who’d only seen a condom placed on a banana before). When UCLA presented itself I had all of the required supplemental application materials but I also had no real idea of what I was getting into.
I prayed, I applied, I got in! And THEN I asked You to become invested in my journey and you did. My community showed up and showed out, in a major way. Funding me, uplifting me and championing me on to UCLA. Seriously you all helped me raise over $3,000 in 6 days.
It was a lot, having to relocate to Los Angeles in less than a month and adjust to being back in college after graduating undergrad 10 years ago (I know, I know, I look REALLY good for my age, or at least that’s what my mom keeps telling me). A major thank you to the Sandbloom family amongst others.
Tomorrow marks the last day of my first quarter here at UCLA (Monday night lecture ended last week). I’ve been blessed with supportive and honest classmates in my workshop of eight students. They are truly funny writers, with great wit and intelligent humor about them. My instructor Lisa Alden is the truth! She was the lone female writer on several seasons of HBO’s Entourage and loves the F-word. Lisa was so tough on us, not even allowing us to begin writing pages of our script for several weeks. She wanted us to perfect our outlines and then get them down to a 1-pager. Lisa delivered her insight every single Tuesday night running our workshop like an actual writer’s room, while also checking the NBA playoff updates on her phone.
This quarter I wrote my first spec script for The Mindy Project and finished it two weeks before the required deadline. This summer I enter my 2nd quarter and will be working on my original pilot script that I’m sure will make The Bay Area, my friends, family and friends in my head proud. Thank you all so much for your continual support, prayers and well wishes.
Oh just hey! It’s just spoken word artist Chas and American Idol winner, singer Jordin Sparks flashing those Colgate smiles
As a Black Man
I must announce my presence before entering every room
my peacock strut
proves frightening to Pilgrims
who’ve yet to discover my inhabited territory
I mustn’t chop nor screw the English language
else I be deemed terrorist
code switch quicker than J.Lo do husbands
As a Black Man
though I may be a Bachelor,
will never see one on ABC
be pimp if too many white women fighting for his affection
Give ‘em VH1 and a clock necklace
can’t be reckless after school
lest I be savage, threat
Orange or red alert
no more than 2 of me in a convenience store at a time
How convenient it is to
compartmentalize us into an entire demographic
I can never
provide an excuse
be given a pass
be accepted into the Ivy League with locs
without being made Unicorn
As a Black Man, I Am a Unicorn
a chalk outline in internet comment sections
can’t be White T and jeans classic
classified gangbang, which set you claim?
Whether high top, curly, braids, or fade
My hair is always an art exhibit
Whose DO NOT TOUCH sign is ignored
leap over adversity
As a Black Man
I sweat blood
even my tears are up for political discussion
wonder if they’re import or Hawaiian
I clear sidewalks without trying
have yet to tap into all my strength
keep an extra pair of teeth
in the glove-box
case these be knocked out
while reaching for insurance and registration
on dark nights
and sometimes darker days even peacocks get cold
but Black Man
don’t dare think about
wearing a hoodie—
even in the Winter
When I drop her off at therapy
the radio is all commercials
daring me to make the first move
I talk about other grad students
my nephew’s latest growth spurt
and avoid making mention of the weather
I never bring up the weather
gray skies cast doubt
on whether or not
she will, will enough strength
to open her passenger door
walking through open doors
are the hardest steps we ever have to make.
On the drive over
spots disregarded furniture on the curb.
While she is at therapy
there is no life vest for me
in this sea of uncertainty
no rescue party summoned in search of
I am a Ferris wheel of questions
all waiting their turn.
I know not why she wakes up in tears
and laughs in her sleep.
when she says
she doesn’t want to talk about a thing
make it helium balloon
out of my grasp
and watch it ascend toward a blazing fireball
in the sky
when three words
are held for ransom
in the cave of her mouth
she questions why I’m still here
fires hate speech in my direction at will
waits to see if I will crack
like Crème Brule surface
under a freshly polished spoon
I am Redwood tree faithful
and all kinds of mustard seed
I want her to know that
no matter how many times
she saw street lights from porch steps
without seeing her father
she is not disposable
not a balled up sweater
in the back of the closet
there’s a night light in my chest
that cradles her Holy
I am grit, and teeth, and bone and melanin
I am all of who I said I was
the night we met
and sometimes a little more.
When I pick her up from therapy
I am always on time