Lighting a Continent the World Views as Dark

 solar power, photo by louise falcon

solar power, photo by louise falcon

“And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven give light upon the earth: and it was so.” ~ Genesis 1:15 KJV

Location: USA Conquest Space Station Time: Unknown Year: 2050

Mae finishes the day’s responsibilities at the worktable. Opened books and magazines lie around her makeshift office. One magazine, The Economist, sits open on the article, “The Dark Continent,” with a satellite photograph of Africa at night. She glances at the magazine and remembers the last holiday spent with her family in California. They were watching the news in the living room. The quirky news anchor provides an update on Akon’s Solar Academy. She remembers the scene because her father cracks a joke:

“They can shine a million lights on that continent and those people will still be Black as coal.”

Her family interjects with laughter while her father changes the channel to Storage Wars.

Mae smiles at the memory, wishing that she spend time with her family on the next holiday. However, the current mission forces her to work in the space station until all assignments are completed. Thus, to occupy her time, she leisurely reads and rereads old magazines and books until she can repeat every story verbatim.

When the space station team gathers for Sunday dinners, she entertains them by retelling the stories with funky hand gestures and silly voices. She looks at The Economist again, except this time; she stares at the satellite picture. Something about the image sparks her interest. Several years ago she watched that news special, but she wonders if the continent looks any different. Alvin, a space station team member, works with satellite imaging so perhaps he possesses recent pictures of the mysterious continent.

With nothing else to do for the rest of the day, she travels to Alvin’s workstation to ask for the images.

“Hey Alvin”

“Hello Mae. How can I help you?”

“Have you done any recent satellite imaging on Africa?”

“Yes I have. I actually just completed a project for the Solar Academy.”

“Really? What progress have they made?”

“Well-“

“Hey Alvin! Can you come here for a sec?”

“Yes sir! I am coming now,” responds Alvin, and then he turns back to Mae, “I am uploading the images as well as the information about the company including history, progress, and goals. Please take your time.”

Alvin leaves to help their colleague then Mae sits in his seat to examine the documents. She instantly notices that the satellite image of Africa differs from the image in the magazine. Hundreds and hundreds of white dots spread across the continent, indicating the lights. Mae clicks through the documents then pauses on an article with pictures of people. The article describes the family life within the communities near the Solar Academy. When she studies the accompanying pictures, to her surprise, she sees neither the stereotypical faces of joy nor sadness found in her magazines. She rather sees normal people posing for a picture like her family on a regular sunny day. She sees their homes in the background with children toys and cars and lawns. They look different, but normal. Until that point, Mae never knew anything about Africa. Her knowledge about the continent remained in the dark, yet the lights on the satellite images show her that the continent was never in the dark. Instead, she was.

Poet & Literary Critic: @Chrycka_Harper

The Natural Rebellion

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Chrycka Harper, Poet & Literary CriticLast Modified: 01:57 a.m. DST, 28 February 2014

Baby Panda, Seven Star Park in Guilin, Photo by BageltamSunshine's rays gleam off the cold metal cage of the world's favorite baby panda, Bao Bao. Nestled within fake vegetation resembling a panda's natural habitat, the baby panda willingly participates in the scientists' daily lesson plan.

An audience of thousands venture to the National Zoo in Washington, DC to watch Bao Bao's progressive learning process. With brochures illustrating the daily lesson plans, the audience engages with the scientists on teaching Bao Bao how to be a panda.

When Bao Bao walks left, necks follow in unison. When he goes right, necks follow in unison. When Bao Bao sneezes, in unison, everyone reacts with “bless you.”

On this particular day, numbers of the audience reached an all-time high. Humans representing diverse backgrounds and cultures are in the National Zoo watching the baby panda's interaction with a soccer ball. A man unfortunately becomes an open toilet for a blackbird above him. The blackbird and we shall call her Eboni, lands on a tree within the lions' exhibit.

The lions are resting their heads because of the human attention towards Bao Bao. Eboni swoops down towards the King of the Jungle, a black lion that was strangely found within Ethiopia, then propels upward into the clear blue sky. Then the King rises onto his paws and unleashes a proud roar. Eboni flaps her wings to the rhythms of the roar. She spots her flock near the Washington Monument and joins them for a brief meeting. The birds diverge to meet with other species of the planet to relay one message:

THE TIME IS NOW!!!!

Birds representing the iridescent spectrum deliver the message to creatures of all forms, shapes, and sizes. From the algae in the Pacific to the elephants in Africa, all domains of life receive the pertinent message.

Back in the zoo, members of the audience slightly shift their weight on their feet and stretch their backs while watching Bao Bao attempt to shoot a basketball into the hoop. A second roar erupts from the King's mouth then Eboni soon returns to move a switch that unlocks the cages.

Children remember their parents' warnings on public crying so they keep their growing hunger a secret as Bao Bao rolls around. Suddenly, the baby panda stops in action as the King erupts in a third roar- the loudest of all roars that the Universe has ever heard. Startled humans turn around to see nature surrounding them. Kings and Queens of the savannah, exotic plants of the rainforest, and tropical fish of the deep blue seas are silently staring at the human population. No one notices that Bao Bao leaves his cage and joins the King on his right, while Eboni rests on his left shoulder. No words need to be spoken to explain the purpose of this confrontation: nature is rebelling against the humans.

For centuries, nature received brutal treatment from humans. It remembers the baby stage of human civilization where all creatures lived in harmony and unison. Yet, events and circumstances that are not discussed in schools influenced the progression of humans' harsh manipulation, subjugation, exploitation, and oppression of nature.

Animals quietly laugh at the humans' idiotic view that they can rule the majority while they slowly plot their rebellion. Nature will never forget about the obstacles of organizing the creatures, but this day marks the heavily anticipated confrontation. No more excuses and no more silence. The time is now for Nature to demand better treatment from the humans.

This meeting serves as the Ultimatum. Humans must change their ways in order to live in harmony with Nature. Otherwise, Nature on Earth will end the Universe's experiment with human evolution, once and for all. This is the Natural Rebellion.

Follow Chrycka Harper on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report
Poet & Literary Critic: @chrycka_harper

Come Play the Color Game

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Chrycka Harper, Poet & Literary CriticLast Modified: 23:13 p.m. DST, 11 February 2014

Silhouette of Man Against Wall, Photo by Bell YanzDear Jo,

We have known each other for quite some time. I think this is the perfect opportunity to tell you how I feel about you. However, I want to make this interesting. Instead of me revealing to you my physical identity, you must guess who I am based on the following description that I provide you.

The catch: you must correctly identify my ethnicity.

When Toni is done reading this letter, you must tell her your answer. If you guess correctly, she will tell you who I am. If you don't guess correctly, then you will wander the Earth for the rest of your life never knowing the identity of your secret crush (just kidding). I wish you the best of luck in this game of “Guess Who” and I hope your mind possesses the necessary skills, such as inductive and deductive reasoning, to choose the best answer.

I am 5'5'' with a chestnut-almond complexion. Fashion magazines would declare that my figure is pear shaped and my feet are actually on the small side. If you were to browse through my music library, you will discover Pitbull, Baby Bash, and Mellow Man.

In my free time, you usually see me playing fútbol on the yard or basketball on the court. Many students can identify me just through my thick Southern accent, since I was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama.

At this point, I trust that you already know the identity of this author. However, I will drop a couple of more clues on ya.

My fashion statement screams Harajuku style. I have an uncle that lives in Japan, so every summer; I visit him and buy my clothes from there. My favorite snack is sushi and my favorite meal is macaroni and cheese.

Lastly, my hair is naturally straight; it touches the middle of my back. My nose is narrow and my lips are medium-sized.

So.... who am I? Or rather, what is my ethnicity?

Sincerely,

Your “Not so Secret” Admirer ; )

*********************************************************************************************************************************************

"All human beings tend to judge people based upon a set of criteria, though the oft said and most abused aphorism is "to never judge a book by its cover."

In America, we often judge a person by his color, and with that ascribe an entire litany of characteristics and assumptions about the person without ever taking the time to know them.

This latest literary submission by Ms. Harper provides an excellent illustration of our tendency to assign ethnicity based upon characteristics and qualities that are universal, but have been neatly packaged by the media and force fed to the public so that if a person likes a particular kind of music, wears a certain type of clothing, speaks with a dialect or in colloquialisms, has a certain texture of hair, etc. - then they are this, or they are that, they are in fact anything other than just a human being.

I took the color test and failed. Not because I guessed the person's ethnicity correctly or incorrectly, but because I tried. Did you do the same? Be honest with yourself if not with others." ~ Ayanna Nahmias

Follow Chrycka Harper on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report
Poet & Literary Critic: @chrycka_harper

What's For Dinner? Medicare

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Chrycka Harper, Poet & Literary CriticLast Modified: 00:44 a.m. DST, 16 January 2014

The following prose was inspired by the enactment of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act.

Dear Journal,Eden Writing in Her Diary, Photo by Eden, Janine, and Jim

Today, Jamesha, Wei, Spirit, and José came over to play. We played Hide & Seek, Tag, Red Rover, and a lot more other stuff. We played so much that we got really hungry. My dad was in the dining room, so we ran there to ask if we could get some pizza. My dad and 10 other adults were in the room.

Our walls were painted a light cremé color and the room was “decorated with the finest collectibles,” said my dad. But I don't like the walls and the “collectibles” are ugly. We ran around the really big and strong dining table. My dad said it was made out of African Blackwood. And the legs are so tall, I can stand under the table.

Anyway, the adults were busy talking. One man was standing next to an old woman and yelling at her. My dad's face was very red. One woman was talking on her cell phone. And two men were working on something important on their computers.

It was weird because when I make noise in that room, my dad tells me to be quiet. But he didn't say anything to us. The adults kept saying “drugs” and “money” and “government” and “good.”

Finally when my dad knocked on the table two times, everybody in the room got quiet. The adults looked down at us kids, smiled, and asked, “so... what's for dinner?”

Follow Chrycka Harper on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report
Poet & Literary Critic: @chrycka_harper

Lost in the Machine | Metropolis

We must not define ourselves by freedom from religion, from abuse, from rape, from derision. From societal norms, from conformance, from acceptable compliance. From race, from the accident of geographical happenstance of birth or of life whether lived extraordinarily or pedestrian, with unsung aplomb, or within the rarefied strata of the new minted pantheon of 'celebrity' deities.

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The Story of the Butterfly

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A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to squeeze its body through the tiny hole. Then it stopped, as if it couldn't go further. So the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bits of cocoon. The butterfly emerged easily but it had a swollen body and shriveled wings. The man continued to watch it, expecting that any minute the wings would enlarge and expand enough to support the body, Neither happened! In fact the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around.

It was never able to fly. What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand: The restricting cocoon and the struggle required by the butterfly to get through the opening was a way of forcing the fluid from the body into the wings so that it would be ready for flight once that was achieved.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our lives. Going through life with no obstacles would cripple us. We will not be as strong as we could have been and we would never fly.