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Once the holiday season was over the long lines of returns began. As I was picking up an item at Babies R Us, I notice an African-American man standing on the other side of the counter. He was playing on his phone as he waited for something.

He had nothing to do with my business and he was unnoticeable until he started in on the seemingly innocent manager. The manager was a Caucasian twenty something hipster nicely dressed in a sweater and jeans with a clean cut reddish brown beard. The manger calmly spoke to the man in a compassionate tone.

I did not look up until the man start gesturing and walking in a circle like a Sumo Wrestler. He was a heavyset man who was taking up a lot of physical space in a vain attempt to intimidate the manager. He waved his arms around and bobbed his head up and down before he started to speak. This clown now had my attention.

"You are not telling me what I need to hear!” his voice escalated with every word. "How am I going to get my needs met!' He repeated in the same tone.

He caught my eye as I looked on in repulsion. The manger continued to explain.

"Sir I can not find a record of your receipt and without a record I can make a return. I looked back 3 months and I don't have anything in the computer."

While the manager was talking this fool continued his gesturing and head bobbing.

The manager stood his ground and rightfully so. Who returns items without a receipt on file? NO ONE! I felt bad for the manger in the Babies R Us store. He did everything he could to find a receipt for the pretend customer.

Unfortunately, he probably walked away with a bad opinion of overweight people and African Americans. Bully Man was a common thief who used whatever he could to get over. He happened to be over weight and Black.

Back to my pick up, I was at the wrong store. I rushed out to head to the new location, Toy R Us. As I got out of the car who did I seeing coming out of the store? Bully Man. He had the same bag in hand and hardly could look at me.

You should be ashamed for using your size, weight and race to intimate people to commit a crime!

People who use race as intimation set race relations back to caveman days. Everyone has his or her experience with different genders; races or cultures and negative experiences do not help in these days of silent racism.

Wrong is just wrong.

RuPual I Break Up With YOU!!

January 24th 2015 03:10

Yes! I broke up with RuPaul’s Drag Race during Season 5. I could not handle it anymore. The catty fighting, name-calling, and pitting of one drag queen against another was too much and I stopped watching it. I was disappointed, sad and wanted better for the queens.

So I walked away. Curiosity brought me back. I wanted to see if anything had been redeemed from Season 5. RuPaul was just as gorgeous as ever. It is really unbelievable how he changes from a tall thin man to a knock out Glamourzon.

I hated the clique ALASKATOX (made up of queens Alaska, Roxie and Detox) finally it was broken up by the judges.

The element of surprise and compassion in the show was still there! RuPaul sent two queens packing in Episode 4 of Season 5. Honey Mahogany and Vivienne Pinay both had to Sashay Away after they tried to lip-syncing to “Ooophs I Did It Again" by Britney Spears.

I was shocked and they deserved it. Both Honey and Vivienne were like wet fish during the lip sync and RuPaul sent them both home! Unbelievable.

In Episode 8 of Season 5, Roxie broke out into tears in a final segment of the show. It is not uncommon for a drag queen to start crying at anytime during the show but this was different. I was caught off guard. Roxie had some kind of flash back that caused her to remember being abandoned by her mother with a sibling at a bus stop. During moments like this I love the show because RuPaul provides a sense of understanding, compassion, wisdom and comforting that is therapeutic and authentic. In that moment time stood still. I loved RuPaul. I know it’s a love hate relationship but I am in it.

More comments, commentary and pictures to come as I catch up watching back episodes. Let’s hobble along together and we may just learn something about supporting others, being compassionate and identifying with the sameness in us all.

Racist Boss Spoils the Day

January 2nd 2015 04:37

I worked for most of last year with a supervisor who was a demeaning and racist. He made comments to me because of the color of my skin.

"That’s what Jay-Z would say”
“That’s what Usher would say.”
”Sometimes you have to call Big Momma.”

One day he watched rap videos back to back during a debriefing meeting. He was pretty overt with comments based on my culture and race.

I have to admit in this day and age I did not expect to be treated so badly without any recourse or compliant process. It was true. I worked for a large organization that had no compliant system that was clearly outlined. I was expected to tow the line and keep my mouth shut.

Taking the company to court was the only recourse. My job was not safe and my reputation was not safe. I had one ally whom worked part time. She was the only person that heard me and saw what was happening to me. She validated my feelings and experience by offering emotional support.

Living in active abuse in the work place is like living in an abused family. The more I fought the more I looked like the problem.

Chauncey Hare, co-author of Work Abuse: How to Recognize and Survive It states that, “Like child and spousal abuse 30 years ago, work abuse is still ignored by society. It's everywhere and it's highly denied," Hare says. "Right now, there's no way for a person to make the distinction between something that's not work abuse and something that is----until he or she goes through an enormous, highly traumatic situation. In any organization that is authoritarian work abuse is prevalent. But because of denial people aren't acknowledging it."

Christine Porath, an associate professor at Georgetown University McDonough School of Business, has 15 years of studying the effects of bad behavior within organizations. When asked why organizations ignore bad behavior in the Washington Post article, “Treated Badly in Workplace”, Porath simply stated manager ignore the behavior. Porath defined bad behavior as anything that was disrespectful or insensitive. According to the Washington Post, “As far as examples go, there’s just a huge gamut — so it can be ignoring people’s requests, asking or answering questions in a way that demeans others, talking down to others or belittling them, taking too much credit for collaborative work, spreading rumors about people or delaying access to information or resources.”

The article went to state the loss of engagement, productivity and morale.

Here are a few tips if you are treat badly because of race, culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, etc.

1. Keep calm. It is quite alarming to be treated inhumanly in the workforce. Try to detach from the insensitive comments, microaggressions and outrageous behavior.
2. Document everything. Keep a note of days and times that incidents happened.
3. Find support. Most jobs have counseling or some kind so support available. Find resources that can help you and offer tools in situations that are not idea.
4. Try not to be alone. Try not to be alone with the person who is targeting you. I found incidents were kept to a minimum when I was with other people.

I would not wish this experience on anyone and want others to learn from my experience. Wrong is wrong, this cannot keep happening.

A friend sent me the "Dear White People" movie review. At first, I thought it was a provoking review of 20th century racism. Now, I am not sure. The movie is a satire of current race relations in America today. I am not sure how I feel about a comedy in the area of a real problem. So, I will go see it. I am curious what demographic will pay the bucks to be informed.

Check out the trailer

By Tayllor Johnson


You are walking down the street as a woman of color minding your own business, listening to your music that blends with the day in every way (most recently for me it’s been Trey Songz, don’t judge). And then, up ahead you notice another woman of color walking your way; she notices you too. You pay her no mind and continue on in your mental music video. But something doesn’t feel right, you look up; she is still looking at you: stern face, forceful strut, and defensive eyes. You are confused as she looks at your hair, shirt, pants, shoes, back up to your face and you can see that she has rated you, judged you, as she passed by rolling her eyes. You continue down the street confused, vulnerable, and kind of pissed. What reason did she have to give you attitude? You did not know her. Did you? Why did she assume you to be her nemesis in mere seconds?

This has been my experience for years. Each individual judgment seems trivial, maybe one woman with a bad attitude or having a bad day. But it happens regularly and is an example of a multifaceted problem among women of color: we spend less time building each other up and more time sizing each other up. Every time we do this, we break each other down. Why? Why is it that I can pass almost anybody else and offer an easy smile but with women of the same skin-tone or similar it is an all-out silent war of who is better, launched in milliseconds? The sidewalk is not the place to be battling for space. I’d like to save that fight for spaces that matter, for spaces we as women of color have been pushed out of.

For a long time I was pushed out of many circles for not being “black-enough” or “ghetto-enough” or “straight haired enough” or “dark enough” and the list goes on. As a result, I was always the one looking in from the outside, an observer to the black woman experience but not feeling whole as a black woman myself. Not until I went to an all-women’s college was I was able to experience a different type of sisterhood, a sisterhood that mainstream black media talks about but that seems lacking in real life. I was able to build up myself by building up others. “Black woman” no longer meant what I wore, whom I was with, or how my hair looked. Instead, it became the value in my voice and the inspiration in my character. I found women of color that supported success and did not feel the need to compete for scraps; we were all going for the four-course meal, and we were going together. And those who chose not to build that sisterhood, stuck out like tacky, rusted metal in our indestructible chain link. Once I found sisterhood I no longer had to worry or question the black woman in me.

But college is only 9 months out of the year, and soon I was cast back into the psyche of the broader United States, a psyche that is oftentimes confused, biased, and ignorant. There I found I was still the Imaginary Enemy.

I was challenged everywhere I looked for sisterhood, I was called “bourgeoisie,”“white-washed” and more. I could not understand why. As much as we women of color fight for deserved spaces, win them over, and claim them for ourselves in this country, seldom do we ever share them with our peers of color; instead we fight each other like we are on rations, like there is no more space to share, so F*ck off! This is self-defeat. We compare and rate ourselves on mainstream America’s scale then place that right on our sisters. We contaminate our own movements with gossip and betrayal because that is what being a “strong black women means” to the media. Then we look at each other as the competition. So why in the world would I want to join hands and fight oppression with the same person who wants my head?

Answer: I choose not to until we mend the relationships within our own community. Once we stop biting off empowerment from others we can begin to heal as a unit. Alone we are a disjointed movement at best, but together we can be a revolution.

So the short answer: Why did I make this shirt? To inspire the conversation. Each time I have worn this shirt I have had a conversation about women’s experiences of breaking other women down instead of building each other up. It is not a sufficient goal that black media display sisterhood; what is needed is a lifestyle of sisterhood . It should be easier to find a sister than an enemy in this country, and today, I choose to walk by a woman of color and pay a compliment instead of offering attitude.

Coming Soon to an Educated Woman Near You!

Shirt orders available at Really Long Link

The Shy Girl Speaks Wonders
By Tayllor Johnson
Today was one of those days that might happen once or twice a year for most teachers if they are lucky and not drowning in this country's obsession with testing. The day before I had asked both of my classes to share their poems if they wanted to seeing that summer was slowly eating at their attention spans. However, the challenge for me was trying to engage the students that didn’t care or were too shy to share. While I was taking volunteers I picked on a few students who looked at me as if their lives depended on not sharing ever in life. Feeling defeated by the fear of students having their voice heard, I picked on Kelly who gave me the same look. But I needed someone to share so I pushed and asked the class if they wanted to hear her story; they went wild chanting and asking her to share. This went on for three minutes while she hid under her notebook, closed her folder, and pleaded with me to save her. Finally she said,

“Tomorrow. Tomorrow.” her eyes were bleeding for mercy. I agreed to the terms and told the class that she will keep her word and perform tomorrow. I was not sure how much she was actually going to keep her word. Kelly was an expressive girl but extremely shy in the classroom setting however, she seemed to be comfortable enough with me to open up and confide in me. One day during recess she came up to me and asked,

“How do you say goodbye to someone?” I was thrown by the poetic nature of the question and having just left a lot of friends from my semester in Edinburgh, I was still not sure if all my goodbyes were the right ones. I had to think quickly as her glasses looked up to me and her two white flowers she picked earlier shook nervously in her hands.

“Well, I’m not sure. When I have to say goodbye I usually give them a hug as long as it takes to say the whole alphabet. Then I let go, I know it’s not easy to say goodbye. If you need help with that I can help.”

“I’m going to need a lot of help!” she said as she ran inside. I walked up and saw her give her goodbye and give the flowers to a teacher in an office next to our class.

“That was the one.” she said. “My stomach hurts. Ugh! I hate goodbyes!” She did not know how much I too understood the sting of goodbyes. After that she came to me about a number of things first her singing talents but more importantly she needed help to find artistic purposes for her three-set notebook. One of them, she decided, is going to be an autograph book for the princesses at Disneyland, which her family can’t afford to go to so I told her I would take it since I was planning to go to Los Angeles (and possibly Disneyland) anyway and I will see how many princesses I could get in her name. I had the hope she would use this trust in me to see this poetry performance through to the end.

It was after lunch and I was at the teacher’s desk trying to focus myself since I was on the brink of a five-week summer break when I saw Kelly come up to the desk,

“Miss Tayllor? Could you help me?”

“Sure Kelly. What do you need?’

“Can you help me write a new poem? I don’t like the ones I’ve written.” She had a notebook with a fresh page in hand and a pencil ready to go. I told her I would help. The hard part was letting her voice be the guiding force of the poem. That is where the Pongo method really helped; I simply asked questions and her answers guided her writing process. I asked her,

“What do you want to write about? What would you want to tell this class? What would you want them to know if they had to be quiet for five minutes and you could speak? What would you say?” Her main response was that she was shy but had qualities they don’t know and from there slowly we drafted three stanzas that created her poem called “Me”. Her poem declared what the class might think of her and her shyness when in reality she was vibrant and was not going to change because she didn’t need to. It was strong for a first poem and powerful since she could have decided to write about her favorite Disney princess instead. After it was done I told her it was perfect.

“Can you help me practice?” she whispered. After school we went into the copy room and I helped her on her performance encouraging her to slow down and let her words be heard. I assured her that even if the worst happened I would be right there next to her the whole time even if she needed to stop and couldn’t finish. It was nice to see this voice emerge slowly the only question being: will the voice make it to the classroom?

The next day came and when I walked into the room there was Kelly eyes alert darting from person to person then to her poem. I knew her feeling too well. She came up to me immediately asking to practice a couple more times and trying to convince me she couldn’t do this; a student walks by at that moment reminding her that she made a promise to perform today. I told her that since she has already practiced this 5 times with me and at home it is definitely possible. Even after practicing in the hall she was still not convinced; she said her belly was hurting and she was so nervous she might laugh through the whole thing but all the while she was smiling. That is how I knew she could do it.

“9:30.” I said, “By 9:35 you will be done and will be so happy and loud of herself.” She agreed and I talked to her about other things to distract her for the next 5 minutes. The clock struck 9:30 and with the help of the teacher I got the class settled. I stressed the importance of poetic etiquette and respecting the experience and story of the performer. I was honest and told them that she was really nervous and needed the support and they sure did deliver screaming and hollering as I introduced Kelly and guided her to the front of the class. The teacher used my iPad to record discreetly but it got to the rest of the class and seeing they were able to have their electronics on the last day, they were itching to record too. Soon the class hushed to silence and Kelly with her notebook was free to begin.

9:33am, a roar of applause! The poem was over. She ran to her seat and sat heavy and overwhelmed by the experience face planting into the very poem she overcame. I ran to her and gave her the biggest hug. I was so proud! This is where the fire starts, when you realize you can do it! There is no stopping her now! When I finally looked at her face she had tears in her eyes, big ones falling down her cheeks and a gargantuan smile that would't quit. I never asked her why she was crying but I can only imagine that she couldn’t believe that she was actually able to do it and was so proud and happy that she was moved to tears. Tears of disbelief. She had experienced her own power. I hugged her even tighter and she cried some more. The class congratulated her and she walked triumphant for the rest of her day. She told me how much she was going to miss me and asked for my number and information so she could stay in touch. But that wasn't even the best part of the day. The best part was this:

“I can’t believe I did that. Who knows? I might continue to sing or if not that, maybe poetry!”

*To protect the confidentiality of the student her name has been changed for this publication*

Guns Are Just Like Spoons?

June 10th 2014 05:34

“I read a jaw-dropping online defense of these weapons from a California woman recently. Guns, she said, are just tools. Like spoons, she said. Would you outlaw spoons simply because some people use them to eat too much? Lady, let’s see you try to kill twenty schoolkids with a fucking spoon.”
-Stephen King, Guns

Tayllor Johnson

I am your biggest fan.
You have inspired me by simile.
You have opened my third eye
poured nirvana into my mind
I am enlightened and want to help;
Spread the word of your genius to the heavens.
Utilize your logic to start a movement:

We should outlaw humans.

Guns and spoons are just tools.
Why blame them for the fools responsible?
For all we know, these poor things are just victims
at the hands of the idiots who created a system
not suitable for them.

We’ll start with your family members.
Then head to the gun shops and detain all
those who give out gun permits to
the mentally distressed. Then we can head
to the house of their parents outlaw them for
not taking good enough care of their mentally distressed kids;
Ride down to the hospital and kill all of them
For not providing well enough policies to fit
Needs of those struggling mentally.

We should outlaw humans

We’ll need a plane ticket to DC.
Break into the capitol and retrieve all of congress
for not prioritizing healthcare in all their lobbying.
Eventually get to the president for not delegating
The important work to the right people.
It’s a lot of work but stay with me.

Once we have outlawed the government for
not doing their job, we will come back to California
and attack the inner city. Get all the kids in gangs then
use those same guns to get their parents for not parenting
well enough. Then go to their schools get the teachers
for not caring enough. Then we can ride to the school district
and murder them for not having the funds.
Then we will get to the department of education
because they can’t figure out how to distribute better money
to benefit everybody.

After that, we’ll branch out spread our horizons
to the rich people who don’t want to share their wealth
to help those in a system that didn’t care enough to begin with.
We’ll need addresses for the all the big banks.
Kill the CEO and their assistants who instill
greed in the masses.

We should outlaw humans.

After that we’ll have lunch.
We will have time to delegate the work
to the rest of the world.
We will end with my family:
The fools who cared enough about innocent fools
getting killed by the hand of tools.
We were naďve and stupid.
I know that now.

One question California Lady,
What are you left with?
The tools you want to protect.
Safe and sound out of the hands
of the people you don’t think are
worth the protection.

You will be lonely.
Maybe, you can teach a spoon to
speak and a gun to love. Maybe one day
they will thank you for placing them above everyone else.

by Tayllor Johnson

I usually don’t like communicating non-poetically but I think with the inspiration that came out of last night I will have to elongate my mode of communication. Yesterday I went and participated in my first Poetry Slam in Edinburgh, Scotland hosted by the Loud Poets (more on them later). I was not entirely excited to go but as my mouth was longing for the stage I said what the hell? Might as well! But little did I know all that I didn’t know about slamming in Edinburgh and slamming in general.

I slammed a wee bit in the States, participated in Brave New Voices 2010 as a part of the Los Angeles team (thanks Get Lit Words Ignite) where my mind was blown on so many levels; I learned so much about myself: I learned about my potential and how much work I was going to have to put in to achieve what I wanted to achieve (a whole hell of a lot!). I have many people to thank for that and all of whom are too busy with their amazing poetic lives to really pay this blog any attention (lol). However, even after the rush of the scores being ran off, the pain of low scores, the addiction to approving snaps, and the roar of applause, I found out a couple things:

I was not confident enough in my work to be competitive with my words.
Slam poetry usually comes in the same package as far as cadence, topic, and delivery are concerned.
I don’t like to lose.

and for those reasons I stayed away from Slam poetry and decided to work on my writing as a spoken word poet instead. Fast forward some years and 2 plane rides later, here I am entering a Slam in Edinburgh! I thought I knew what I was in for: fake new york accents, really fast poems, and screaming that damages your throat in the long run (thanks Beau Sia). I thought I knew what to expect, I thought I knew where I would place, and I thought I knew what Slam was and could be for all eternity everywhere. How was wrong was I? Let me tell you…

Refreshing. That is the only way I could describe it. NONE of the poets sounded the same; each poet rang out with a different manifesto and creed in rhythms that resembled ABAB and speeds so varied I wouldn’t dare guess their YouTube inspiration. The topics? Completely off the charts! Masculinity, being ginger, being big-boned, not being big-boned, love (of course), and burning money even! I sat in my cushioned seat in the “poet pit” and choked on my own judgements of Slam poetry here and even back home; these poets were coming with things I have never seen before and never even bothered to look for or appreciate back home. How unfair was I to ignore these aspects in the Slam I was born in! Not only were the poets dynamic and different, the energy was so supportive! I finished a poem and received hugs! How could this be? My preconceived notions of what Slam Poetry could be were burned on the stage and blown away by the power of these poets. So much inspiration and so much more to learn. And then the surprising news, I actually won 1st place! (I was not expecting that!) Not only did I get a bottle of bubbly and a picture with a cool championship belt, but I also get a spot to compete in nationals in Glasgow (I was not expecting that either!). What a wild ride this will be! But that was not even the best part. The best part was sharing this moment with supportive friends and making new ones in the process. What I learned from this Slam is vastly different than what I learned from the last one:

Slam Poetry comes in many shapes, sizes, and cultures and
those shapes, sizes, and cultures have different ebbs and tides that are constantly changing no matter what my preconceived notions are of Slam Poetry at home or abroad.
My potential is expanding and requires more of me.
I have more confidence in my words than I thought and in return my words have more confidence in me.

If you have not heard of Loud Poets (either because you are in the States and not hip to them yet or just not listening hard enough to their declarative decrees in the UK and beyond) you should look them up, take a hint, and follow what they are doing and who they are inspiring. If I coud get the Conscious Poets Society to join forces with Loud Poets, we would be INVINCIBLE across the globe!! If you haven’t heard of the Conscious Poets Society (either because we are too far to reach your heart or you're just not hip to us yet, check out the Conscious Poets Society tab and our Facebook page for more info on the 5 College Slam coming up in April!). All this amazing inspiring stuff is below and deserves a gander. And all of this is to prove my point I have been trying and will keep trying to make for the rest of my life: Poetic Communication changes lives and alters minds.

MLK Day What Did He Do?

January 21st 2014 06:07

I recently read a great blog about Martin Luther King Junior. The writer, HamenRice, wrote a piece titled Most of You Have No Idea What Martin Luther King Did. I would say I agree with him. Mainstream television and social media depict people of color in images of stereotypes.

In the 1960's Sidney Pointer played an international doctor in Look Whose Coming to Diner. In this film he is engaged to a Caucasian women. Today on Love and Hip Hop, black people lie, cheat, curse and show it all in blaring stereotypes.

It is easy to get discouraged in these times of racial micro aggressions throughout society's representation of Black America. Yet, HamdenRice has a point that cannot be denied. Most people do not know what King did besides his speeches and marches.

"Dr. King ended the terror of living in the south.Please let this sink in and take my word and the word of my late father on this. If you are a white person who has always lived in the U.S. and never under a brutal dictatorship, you probably don't know what my father was talking about. But this is what the great Dr. Martin Luther King accomplished. Not that he marched, nor that he gave speeches." (Hamenrice)

He is right. As HamenRice described in his writing:
"It was that white people, mostly white men, occasionally went berserk, and grabbed random black people, usually men, and lynched them. You all know about lynching. But you may forget or not know that white people also randomly beat black people, and the black people could not fight back, for fear of even worse punishment. This constant low-level dread of atavistic violence is what kept the system running. It made life miserable, stressful and terrifying for black people."

The holy terror of the south cannot be denied. The Photographs and Postcards of Lynching in America exhibit give a haunting chill of the emptiness of the times for Blacks. No one can really imagine the fear and terror of those times.

King was strategic about dispelling the fear and grabbing the freedom that came with it. I hope we continue to remember to sacrifice when the fear of today's world seems more than one can bare. The same fear has poverty ridden schools in ruin, students of color not getting an education and young women marginalized. By far our work is not done and today is a sober reminder of the torch we all need to carry.



November 30th 2013 17:20
Guest Post with permission by

Podnah’s first grabbed my attention back in 2009 when it was featured on the Food Network. I first visited the restaurant when it was located off Mississippi in northeast Portland. I make a mean BBQ so I am a BBQ snob. My BBQ is flavorful, falls off the bone and has a sauce with a kick. When I go out for BBQ I would like some of the same good cooking. I put Podnah’s to the test. My first visit I ordered one rib. I know this is wrong; who does that? It was delicious tender and flavorful.

Knowing Podnah’s was a contender I returned. The new location on Killingworth is nice. It has a small bar and nice seating area. The staff are always nice and friendly and the place is hopping with the joy of good times.

I like several dishes but I consistently like the ribs with potato salad and baked beans. It is so good! The pork ribs are tender, tasty and the sauce is just right. I add nothing to it. I have also tried the chicken breast, brisket, greens, rib tips, hot wings and tacos. Hot Damn. The rib tip special is the winner. Monday through Friday daily specials are available until 3 pm or until the dishes are gone. I have gotten a ˝ lbs. of rib tips for $3 and oh boy the dish is tender and melts in your mouth.

Price wise the specials of the day are the way to go. The specials vary based on availability. The prices on the menu are worth it for the quality. The sides are small.
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