Hey APC fam! My name is Genesis Johnson and I am nineteen years old from Miami, Florida. My heritage is Jamaican, Bahamian and African American. As a woman of color, highlighting the emotional and radical journeys of young and old people of color propels my work to a level I can’t even describe. Literature Therapy was published in February of 2018 and an experimental movement show based on the book was produced during the same year. Literature Therapy is an empathy practice I created which involves active listening and creating a poem based off of another person’s experience. After publishing my first book, I realized that true art is an energy without form. It can take on any shape such as writing, dance, music etc, but it is the intention and the story that holds the most relevance. `
I naturally gravitate towards people who inspire me and have compelling stories to tell. Capturing truth while still preserving the emotion has been a running theme throughout my work and I focus a lot on how a message is portrayed. Keeping the poem raw and authentic without a filter is always my goal, even if others may be put off or disturbed. As a Black woman who was raised by Black women, I was taught truth does not come with a filter system. Below are two of my writing pieces, Memories of my Mother and Do Not Forget.
Memories of my Mother
As a child, my parents would box me in the walls of a courthouse, surrounded by white men in gray suits. The walls were cloaked in stark white, so bright it outshone the voices subjected, criminalized, institutionalized by unjust laws. Old and middle-aged men adjusted their pricey suits before stepping into the sanctuary of loopholes. Normal children have not an inkling that unknown lawmakers could change hundreds of lives by the stroke of their pen.
My mother would brush off specks of lint from her raven pantsuit. Her jet-Black pixie hair represented her boldness—a gladiator who batted her eyelashes and narrowed her eyes at the challenges ahead of her. Her caramelized skin would stand out in court like bright fluorescent light in a tremendous sky. They would gawk at the woman who had the audacity to earn a seat at a table she was not invited to. Her presence threatened them. Her confidence was an insult. She stood tall in her magic and grace, and behind her, a little girl stood as well—a little girl with silky brown skin and plaits with colorful beads at the ends. Her big brown eyes were filled with curiosity but also a pinch of fear. She clutched onto her mother’s right leg as if scorching lava flooded the room. She hid her face behind her mother’s thigh, avoiding the faces of the unknown.
The men in suits would grin with pride when they gazed upon the American flag. They heard white noise and ignored the voices of little girls who looked like me. That is when I realized that there was no Black in red, white, and blue. I was a native damnation to a country that preferred me to stay silent and contained. My mother’s skin was a threat, and she basked in her boldness.
Do Not Forget
We are peculiar donors.
We have bled for a country that left us lightheaded and spent.
Forced, raped, and branded
The war on crime, the war on us
I know what lies behind the lies
I have seen your soul I have seen your slaves
My ancestors that lie in improper graves
Innocent lives thrown away like used water bottles, you lie there coddled by a country where some are more equal than others
Those below the 1 percent bleed stripes
Those that cannot afford simple luxuries are the veins bursting constantly at the hands of the privileged
We are the stars in the vast blue sky
We sparkle with pride in the midst of your corruption
Remember the faces that built the ground you walk on.