Protect our Brown-
The skin I am in
Has a warrant out for my arrest
Fill me in with hopes
Of death- a life sentence by stray
My thick lips, full breast
And brilliant brains
My demise at the grip
Of the most bluest eyes
My melanin sprinkled DNA
Melts away, tears that
Make the cone of my sweet
Shell soggy and dilapidated
One day I will be remembered
By the Media as the Negro woman
Lost at trembling fingers locked
On triggers of their own insecurities
A white not so clean slate
We, human beings, live in a
Lawful land of no laws
In God we do not trust
In gun powder flesh turns to dust
Hush, silence….for Renisha McBride
Yes silence for Jonathan Ferrell
More silence for Trayvon Martin
We need silence for Oscar Grant
Please silence for Darius Simmons
No longer will I be silent about the
waves that cover the songs
Of my ancestors that comes from
the belly of the ocean's floor..
Today, I left to go run an errand, and
I was five minutes late from being at the
House to greet my children from the school bus.
I prayed silently that they would
Stay in place on the patio
That they would not panic by no answer
Or sign of me.
History has proven that little brown boys
And girls are the most endangered species
To ever walk this planet. When I pulled
Up to our home, tears betrayed my eyes
And rolled down tense cheeks. They came
Running fast and simply asked,
Mommy, why are you crying?
I simply replied- mommy, just
Wanted to protect your brown…
I just wanted to protect
Granddaughter of Ghanaian royalty and an American coal miner, Naki Akrobettoe born and raised in Columbus, Ohio began her love of poetry and performance at the age of 12. Intrigued by the natural flow of expression, she studied historic writers such as Phyllis Wheatley, Langston Hughes, Toi Derricote, and many more. While in her freshman year at The University of Toledo she was introduced to her mentor Rane Arroyo. Under his teaching Naki found her voice and quickly became a highly requested artist, impacting not only the campus, but taking the community by storm. In 2004 she Co-founded the student organization D.E.E.P. (Developing Empowering Enhancing Poets through Poetry) to serve as an outlet for the student body to have a platform to creatively express themselves. Upon receiving her B.A. in English Naki set out to give back to youth while serving as a writer clinician for organizations such as Covenant Youth Development and Youth Arts At Work. In addition to her many achievements academically, Naki has opened for hip hop artist Talib Kweli and performed on the same stage as Grammy Nominated Artist, Dwele. Also Naki’s love and passion for music landed her a position as co-host on the radio show “The Session” WXUT 88.3 FM. Naki has been featured at Tripple Croxx Entertainment’s off-broad way production “The Signature: A Poetic Medley Show” with HBO Def Poet, M’Reld and Internationally known Poet, Tasha Jones. In May of 2010 she released her debut album, PENSTROKES. In 2010 Naki, co-founded Azucar Morena Ent and launched the live poetry series “The E-Zone.” May 2011 she opened for the SB5 rally organized by Stand Up For Ohio with her soul stirring piece, “I SPEAK” for over 2,000 attendants. As a cultural ambassador, In 2011 Naki also founded “Face of Africa Artist Series” an ongoing event that provides a platform for the exhibition of African Culture through creative arts such as poetry, music, and dance. In 2012 Naki opened for Melanie Fiona performing “A Poem That Healed” at 'The Pink Gala', an annual benefit for the Karmanos Cancer Institute, and at the 'Sista Strut' an annual breast cancer walk at the Detroit Riverfront. Next up on Naki’s agenda is touring with her “Face of Africa Artist Series” and releasing her 2014 album “D.O.P.E” (Dream of Poetry Everyday.)
When did you first realize your attraction to poetry?
I have always been a loveHER of words! My most earliest recollection of really being heavily involved with poetry was around eighth grade.
Tell us about the very first poem you have ever written
I was in my eight grade science class, and we were supposed to be working with a bunson burner, however I was heavily immersed in my journal notebook, writing a poem about my best friend's sister. It was entitled "Black Butterfly" and I just wanted to write her a poem of encouragement.
Do you have a favorite poet? If so, who is he/she?
Geesh...favorite poet. I don't think I can honestly answer that. I have been so influenced by so many writers/poets. If I had to name a few, Langston Hughes, Sonia Sanchez, Rane Arroyo. Just to name a few.
When you’re writing poetry, do you think in terms of genre?
No, not at all. I try to write with a detailed poetic eye. It's all about getting the words out on paper, and developing it from that point of release.
Some people say writing poetry is like writing a rap or love song. Do you agree? Why/why not?
For me writing is my means of communication, so there tends to be a lot more ease for me to choose that as a way to express myself. I do believe that there is a distinct connection between writing poetry and rap song or love song lyrics. There is a saying that goes, "Rap is just poetry put to a beat".
Are there certain styles/techniques/rules of poetry you adhere to in your writing? Tell us about your writing style.
Well I have actually studied poetry for a while now. My bachelors is in Creative Writing and I am currently getting my Master of Fine Arts in Poetry. From an academia standpoint I am consistently being stretched and challenged in my writing skills. We are encouraged to really study and read the work of other poets that capture our attention. For me, I don't really focus on the style or technique. I have been creating a lot of my latest poems based off the technique of emulation. My writing style is not set or concrete. I would definitely say that I'm still developing my aesthetics.
What poetry books have you written?
I am currently working on a chap book, but I have published a cd which contains my words spoken behind music. The album is entitled, "Penstrokes".
Have you performed any of your poetry pieces on stage? If so, please share your experience(s) with us.
I have been performing my work for almost ten years now. It has been such a beautiful experience. I recently performed at the "Backstage at The Lincoln" series at the historic Lincoln Theatre. I have performed at "The Signature: A Poetic Medley Show, as well for Stand Up Ohio SB5 Rally.
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of love?
It's a language. universal. infinite. and it heals ALL.
Are you currently dating someone, married, or single?
I am currently dating someone, but single until married- just being honest *smile*
Do you think success is a matter of chance or a matter of choice?
I believe that success is a matter of choice. Defining success for what works for you and what fulfills you.
Inspiration for a new poem can come from the strangest places. What inspired you to write your most recent poem?
My muse and my love for him...
If you could go back and “right” any past wrong in your life, which one would it be and why?
I try to live a life of no regret and to me there is no "right" or wrong...every step and decision that I have made on this journey has help shape and mold me into the woman who I am today.
When you’re not writing, what are you doing?
Listening to music. dancing. or dreaming of writing.
There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes of a poet’s life, fill us in on what one typical day for you is like.
I am a full time mom of an 8 year old a 6 year old and a 1 year old. My day consist of laundry of some sort, dishes, cooking dinner, ripping and running all over town. Being super, pretty much.
If you could create the “perfect day,” what would it be like?
Prayer, meditation, and affirmations, when I wake up early. Then cook breakfast for my kids. Then go work out or walking. Get a massage. Then find a really serene place and write.
What do you do on the weekends?
Do you hang out or go to clubs?
Occasionally but not often
If you could visit any other country in the world and take one other person with you, where would you go and who would you take?
Jamaica and my best friend Ashley...which we are actually doing for our 30th birthday's in 2014!
Tell us about one challenge in life that you had to overcome. What was the challenge and how did you get through it?
Fear of not being good enough and almost talking myself out of doing a show that changed my career for the better. I just pressed through the illusion of fear and reminded myself that I would not have been selected if people didn't believe in my ability to perform well.
Before you leave, tell us one thing about yourself that we may not know.
My grandfather was a chief from a small tribe in Ghana, West Africa.
What’s your website?