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In this episode of The Turn On, Erica and Kenrya talk to writer Vanesa Evers about rewriting history, overcoming unbearable whiteness in professional spaces and using poetry to inspire sexual liberation.
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Kenrya: Come here. Get off.
Kenrya: Today we're talking to Vanesa Evers, pronouns she, they and them. Vanesa is a librarian and artist whose work confronts and translates Bible scriptures and other historical texts. Vanesa debuted their first play, a performance of the “Declaration of Independence: A Translation,” in 2018 in Philly. Vanesa hopes to feature their first visual creative project soon.
Kenrya: Hey, Vanesa.
Kenrya: Thanks for coming on.
Vanesa: Thank you guys for having me.
Kenrya: Of course.
Erica: We're really hyped to have you today. Again, thank you so much for joining us. I'd like to start with the question what did little Vanesa want to do when she grew up? When they grew up.
Vanesa: Yeah. Yeah. That's a really good question. I am a military brat, an Army brat, so we moved about every three years to a new place. I liked to recreate myself every place, every new city or state I went to. I just liked talking and I liked writing and I had three siblings, have three siblings, and I just really liked to be by myself sometimes and read. I think I'm doing the things that I was doing and I knew I was going to be doing, reading and writing, and talking to people.
Kenrya: Like us.
Erica: Yay. Where do you consider home?
Vanesa: Wow. Georgia.
Vanesa: Yeah. My dad retired in Georgia and I went to high school for two years in Ohio and two years in Georgia.
Erica: What part of Ohio?
Vanesa: Tiffin, Ohio. Toledo.
Erica: Okay. [crosstalk 00:02:09].
Vanesa: Yeah. About an hour from Toledo.
Kenrya: I'm from Cleveland.
Vanesa: Okay. Yeah. My stepdad is from Cleveland but my parents are from Fostoria and Toledo.
Kenrya: I know one other person from Toledo and I think I have been there exactly once. It was for an NAACP conference when I was in high school. I think that's it.
Erica: Okay. How did you come to your current work?
Vanesa: Well, I wrote a lot. In the eighth grade I had a piece published in the newspaper and I was one of the only three Black families in Tiffin and it was about racism. I had a lot of really horrible things happen when I was living in Ohio actually. That's why I consider Georgia to be home because that's where I was like, "Oh, I'm a Black woman" like when I got to Georgia.
Vanesa: Yeah. I really started doing a lot of writing then. Sorry. Can you repeat that part again?
Erica: I was asking how did you come to do what you're doing.
Vanesa: Yeah. Writing. Writing. I think I really started to feel like I have to write, this is in me, and it's really important for me to write.
Erica: Okay. Pretty cool.
Kenrya: It says in your bio that your work confronts and translates Bible scriptures and other historical texts. Can you tell us a bit about what that looks like?
Vanesa: Yeah. I have an MFA from Sarah Lawrence and when I was writing my thesis I really started realizing that I was having some conflict whenever I was reading the Bible. Born in a Christian household, raised in a Christian household so the Bible, church ... I was in church probably every day of the week. Choir, praise...all of the things.
Vanesa: I really started to think about the Bible differently when I got to my grad program and started to look at the Bible kind of separating out the religious pieces from the Bible and looking at the stories and what was happening to the women in the Bible. From that, I started to translate Genesis and from there I also started to translate different legal texts like the Declaration of Independence. I was like, "Who was this written for?" And asking a lot of questions.
Vanesa: From that, I began to write a lot of poetry around translating these different types of writings and documents that we really don't engage with in that way.
Erica: That's really dope. We have talked about in a few other episodes about our conflict with the Bible. We were both raised in Christian homes and I think we both were saying we did a ... You know how they have the app? The Bible In A Year. You get through the Old Testament and you're like, "Shit. Dang."
Vanesa: Right. Right.
Erica: Yeah. It's good to see that you are doing the work and leaving something for us to read that reflects us in the things that we were raised in, which is hard.
Kenrya: We both were really looking for womanist texts that helps to translate the Bible so that we could get a translation that was through the eyes of a Black woman and having a lot of trouble coming across that.
Vanesa: Yeah. As I was reading it, and also as a Black woman, just as women and what's happening to women in the Bible and what's happening to their bodies, I ended up ... My mom maybe one day will read these poems but I really looked at the sexualization of women in the Bible and what's happening to the body. I really don't even use names like Eve and all that. I just look at the she in the Bible and see what's happening sexually. Rape, just the things that are happening to women in the Bible. That's actually a project that I'm going to be working on is continuing with those poems and seeing what can come of a mini collection or something.
Erica: That's really dope.
Vanesa: Thank you.
Erica: You're welcome. How does your work as a librarian work in concert with your art?
Vanesa: Yeah. I call myself a librarian. I just graduated with my...I went back to grad school because my MFA in poetry, I was able to do a couple of adjuncting gigs. It's really all I can call them. I was like, "I can't live like this." I had to go back to school. Also, I have a love of books and with information. I just graduated actually last year with my degree in librarian information [crosstalk 00:07:24].
Vanesa: Thank you. With my MLIS. My current position, I'm a program manager for a culture heritage program but I just consider myself to be a librarian because I lead people to information. I think now I just read a lot, listen.... During this last four months of quarantine and stay at home, I've been doing a lot of audiobooks and YA and so I just.... Librarianship, for me, just the information aspect of it is just bringing people to information.
Erica: I think it's really dope that you chose to get a degree in library sciences. Is that a really white space?
Vanesa: Yes. It is. That was when ... I went to Drexel University. It was all predominantly online. I also minored in museum leadership. All of my classes ...
Erica: You are great.
Vanesa: Thank you. All of my classes, and they were virtual, yes, but you saw the people's faces.
Kenrya: A white space is a white space whether it's virtual [crosstalk 00:08:35].
Vanesa: Right. You could feel it too in those spaces. Just the things, especially for libraries, public libraries, academic libraries. I mean, we are serving really diverse communities and just seeing some of the feedback from my classmates on what services we should be providing to public libraries. It's not just about books but it's about meals. What can we do to help support communities? Yeah. It wasn't just about learning for me but it also felt like I was doing a lot to teaching to my classmates. Just opening up their minds about the profession that they're about to enter. I've never even worked in a public library before but just know what different communities need.
Kenrya: That can be an exhausting lift, right? When you're the one that's in the space having to always bring up the issues to keep communities centered or work that is literally rooted in a community.
Vanesa: Right. Right.
Erica: Yeah. The DC public library their main headquarters downtown had this massive overhaul. They spent all this money on this beautiful building and there was a lot of talk around what do we do with the homeless population? Well, the unhoused population that spend a lot of time at the libraries. The conversations just run the gamut from this isn't their space, and I'm like how is it not?
Kenrya: Whose space is it?
Erica: Exactly. It has been interesting watching from afar so I can only imagine what it would feel like ... Also, some of these librarians show up because they have a sincere love for that but don't realize that they're also getting into a world of social services.
Vanesa: Right. Also made me think too, you're saying ... Like a lot of people in my classes knew that they were going to try to go directly to being the director of the library too. It wasn't even about servicing and being at the reference desk and the first face when you're greeting folks that come in. They just knew that they were going to be at a different level anyway. I think that also helped in leading their conversation around limiting people's access to certain things because they're already coming in knowing that they're about to be in these higher leadership roles.
Erica: Yeah. That's some white entitlement shit.
Erica: It's like I'm not going to [crosstalk 00:11:05].
Vanesa: Right. I mean, there's already studies out, 80% of librarians in leadership are white women then white males and then Black men and women. Then Asian, Latinx is just kind of 3% by the time you get out. Yeah.
Erica: Well, thank you for doing the work.
Vanesa: Yes. That's what I'm here for. Trying.
Kenrya: You are. We've never had the pleasure of having a playwright on our show I don't think. Can you tell us a bit about the show that you debuted in 2018?
Vanesa: Yes. Actually that was an error it's 2017 as I wrote that and then went back to my calendar. I was like, "Oh, right. That was 2017." It was actually 2017 in Philly. This was a piece, a long piece that I wrote. I was reading a lot of Thomas Jefferson's writings, the.
Kenrya: Fucking trash.
Kenrya: I hate that dude.
Vanesa: He rewrote the Bible so he has a Bible ... Yeah. Thomas Jefferson has a Bible. He was taking out different miracles. I was just reading his stuff. Not even like I was holding the Bible as like, "Oh my gosh. How dare he?" I also was like, "Oh, wow. He had the audacity to rewrite the Bible."
Kenrya: The fucking audacity.
Erica: Ain't got shit else.
Erica: [crosstalk 00:12:39].
Vanesa: Right. I was like, "Oh, I'm going to rewrite the Declaration of Independence." Okay.
Kenrya: [crosstalk 00:12:46].
Vanesa: It took me a really long time because of how I did it. I broke it down and looked at the history of the words that were being used. I created an erasure project first where I took all the words, typed them out, from start to end, looked at certain words to see, "I wonder if people know what this word means" and did an erasure and then inserted in other words for that. It was a performance piece and I performed it during my thesis reading but it was like a seven or eight minute reading. I think people were just looking at me. I was like, "Hmm. What's the best way for me to get this message across?"
Vanesa: I set it down. I was like, "Let me turn this into a script." When I moved to Philly and ... This is the place that that could be done.
Erica: I was going to say that's the perfect place. [crosstalk 00:13:41].
Vanesa: Right. I mean, the Liberty Bell, just the history also of different things in Philly. I was like this is where I can do it. I found two amazing Black women who agreed to be a part of my cast. I set it in the same period with the costumes, the setting, just everything was in that period all the way down to the quill pens. It was a performance poem, still, almost like [inaudible 00:14:10] as a performance, a chorial poem but just a performance. Definitely an experimentation. I just had them writing but reading what the actual declaration is and just having the audience there interacting in a way. At the end, they could ask questions.
Vanesa: Definitely an exploration. It wasn't like with an actual cast and here is your lines but it was just really the declaration. Then I had the Say Her Name of Black women, Black cis and trans women who lost their lives due to police brutality in the backdrop. Just really a conversation of hey, guys, this is what the declaration means, this is who it didn't mean, this is who we should be incorporating, and how can we create our own words and leadership around really recreating this time for us?
Vanesa: That was back in 2017. I'm still working on figuring out that project and just as an artist, you have this idea to begin and then it morphs into off the page and how can you incorporate community?
Erica: What drives you to write?
Vanesa: At first, I think it was like, "Oh, I can't go to bed unless I write this poem" but now I'm working even remotely and I'm like, "Aw, man. Let me write a couple of words and go to bed because I have to go to bed and wake up." I think now just still ... Especially I'm really into YA. I just read Echo Brown's “Black Girl Unlimited.” At the end of her book she was like, "I have to write" and as we know, all of the Black women that are writing and have passed and are still here with us, writing for other people. I'm like I have to keep writing because there could be somebody that is trying to do the same thing, needs help, is going through the same thing that I'm experiencing. I think maybe the writing has to be building the community and just letting people know that you're not alone.
Kenrya: Right. You mentioned something that always really sparks my interest. I've been working at home for the last 11 years.
Kenrya: Yeah. I'm kind of fascinated about what work looks like for people who are suddenly at home during the pandemic. What do your work days look like?
Vanesa: Yeah. It's been really ... I'm a night owl and so it's really good for me to know I have to go to bed by midnight because I have to be up and to work by nine. Now it's really self-discipline and really holding myself accountable because I'm up listening to my audiobooks or just coloring or just things to keep myself occupied while in the house.
Vanesa: Now it looks like me knowing that for the next four hours I need to be doing this regardless if I start at 10, 11, or 12, I need to be doing this. I'm heavily in an administrative role so emailing all of the things but also making sure that I'm creating boundaries within my home space because now, I mean, for people who are newly working remotely I would never be emailing while cooking dinner. Just really trying to maintain boundaries and reminding myself that I actually have a lot of things that need to be done even if I want to go to bed and take a midday nap.
Kenrya: Those midday naps. [crosstalk 00:17:54].
Erica: A nap is like a kiss on the cheek from God. It's just so sweet.
Vanesa: Yes. It is. Also, this is a good time where people are realizing you don't have to be in the office for 40 hours a week. It's so unhealthy.
Kenrya: You don't have to commute.
Vanesa: Yeah. You should be ... I just think there's a lot of space here for people to realize what's necessary and what's not necessary during this time.
Kenrya: Especially when you look at policies that keep people from doing that from home. It really is a necessity. This has brought up a lot of conversations about accessibility and disability. It's bigger than us.
Erica: Like you, I was in an office and am now working from home and I'm realizing that there was a lot of bullshit going on in the office. You can really condense a lot into the workday and I think people are realizing that those emails that could have been emails are actually now emails. It saves a whole lot of time.
Vanesa: Right or even just a phone call. Sometimes for like five minutes. What are we really meeting for? I've been on Zoom quite often. I'll just say that.
Kenrya: That's one thing, though. Everybody wants to see everybody now and I'm like we could just get on the phone. I don't have to do my hair.
Erica: I don't turn on my camera.
Vanesa: Yeah. I've actually started to not turn on my camera too. I've had a person or two ask me about things in my background and it feels very invasive. [crosstalk 00:19:39].
Kenrya: That's why I have a screen.
Vanesa: Right. Which I love [crosstalk 00:19:43].
Kenrya: Been doing this for so long. I'm like y'all don't need to be looking around my house. It's personal.
Vanesa: Yeah. I'm not there yet but that's awesome.
Erica: As you know, we've read a few poems from Black Lesbians We Are The Revolution on our show. Why was it important for you to contribute to that project?
Vanesa: You know, when I came out, I came out over 10 something years ago, and now I'm looking back like, "Man, Vanesa. Did you have to really do that? Could you have just walked in this truth without it being such a conversation with my mom?" Without such a heavy conversation with my dad who I haven't really spoken to ... After I came out, we haven't really spoken and been as close as we had been before.
Kenrya: I'm sorry to hear that.
Vanesa: It is okay. That's what therapy is for.
Erica: You can fill out therapy on your Bingo cards.
Vanesa: I'm like it's not even about me. It's about him. We haven't actually spoken in over two years now. I don't know. That relationship, if we get it back, we get it back. If not, there's a lot of other people in my life that I consider to be really great father figures.
Vanesa: My mom, I had that conversation. I was like, "If you're going to love me, you're going to love everything about me and if this is a part of me ..." I took women or I introduced her to my women friends because I was like, "We're not together" but I introduced her to folks. I kind of really forced her to see this as my whole person.
Vanesa: Now I'm like, "Oh, dang. What if I could have just walked in that truth without having these conversations?" Now I still think I'm ... I don't know. I'm still like, "Man, did I need that? Why did I need to say those things?" With my poetry that I write ... I mean, I've done LAMBDA literary retreats. They have our stuff up online. I think it was important for me to have this conversation with my mom, be honest with her, but then also the other folks that have read my stuff and have said, "Wow, Vanesa ..." I ended up writing really sexual stuff and I don't even know ... I wasn't reading ... I know sometimes people ask questions like, "Who are you reading?" I wasn't even reading anybody that was talking about this stuff or so sexual ... Even though I know there are writers that do that but I wasn't even reading any of it.
Vanesa: I just was like I am gay, I need to write all the things. I was expressing myself through my poetry—very sexual self—through my poetry. I think it was just important for me to do the thing and maybe other people could also feel liberated by me being so candid about the different sexual experiences that I've had.
Erica: Well, that turns me to my next question which is why do you think poetry is a good vehicle for the erotic?
Vanesa: I think I heard it .. That's a good question. I listen to y'all and I was like, "Oh, man ..."
Vanesa: I think it's an area where you can just experiment. The same way that you can experiment in the bedroom, poetry is a way that you can experiment with words and experiment with who you are sexually and even I revisit the two poems that were published in that collection and, at first, I thought ... It's like a questioning thing too. It's definitely an intimate relationship with you and the words, with yourself in these moments.
Vanesa: I think even as I was looking back at the two poems I thought that I was saying that the person was actually role playing but I was like, oh, the actual act of it was a role play ... In one of the poems, it was actually a role play for the both of us or for all ... It's all role play. Even me writing these poems is also me stepping into this other person as well. Maybe a way for me to be able to express myself sexually.
Erica: I like that.
Kenrya: The back of the book has a quote from Pat Parker that really resonates with me. It says, "The day the different parts of me can come along we will have what I will call a revolution." What does revolution look like to you?
Vanesa: I think definitely freedom, expression, sexual expression. Just being able to really create the world that we know [inaudible 00:25:02] whatever with it but what can we do with our community? I just always keep coming back to the word community and how we can really create the things that we want has to be revolutionary and not being afraid to move forward knowing that we might lose out on some things but also what we gain is freedom in just our community once we are able to connect with folks. Being able to express yourself openly without fear.
Erica: Yeah. We read two of your poems on the show last week, “Questioning” and “Non/Fiction.” “Questioning” grapples with the stereotypes that a mother just off-page projected on lesbians and thus her daughter. What was the genesis of this poem?
Vanesa: Yeah. The coming out to my mom and me imagining ... Yeah. Imagining how to put that whole conversation into ... I write very short poems. Imagining what that conversation would look like in poem form but when I came out to my mom or when I had this conversation with her she was like, "I knew you were hanging out with this one person and I knew it's not you, it's this other person that's doing it to you."
Vanesa: I'm like, "No, it's actually such a strong desire of who I am" and even the way that I told her was like, "I have really strong deep connections with women that I would like to explore in a sexual way." "That's just a best friend, that's just a best friend." I'm like, "No, the attraction that I have makes me want to please in this other way that's beyond ... That is friendship but also beyond in this very sexual way but also friendships can have that as well."
Vanesa: I just was like I have to get to the root of this attraction. It's sexual, it's intimate, it's friend, it's platonic, it's all the things. Yeah. I was like, "Oh man. I'm actually this person that my mom is afraid that is leading me into this lifestyle." I was like, "It's actually me that she's really ..."
Erica: I'm the influence.
Vanesa: I was like, "I'm actually who you're afraid of" in a way, that I am becoming this person ... I'm already the person that you're afraid ... Yeah. It was a whole weird circle that the poem came from.
Kenrya: The other one that we read was “Non/Fiction.” That also brings up things of family. In this case, as someone goes down on their partner's strap. How do you think our relationships with our families and their attitudes towards sex and gender and form are adult relationships? Why is this important terrain for you to explore?
Vanesa: Say that one more time.
Kenrya: Yeah. How do you think that our relationships with our families and their attitudes towards sex and gender and form are adult relationships? Intimate and otherwise.
Vanesa: Yeah. I mean, I never saw my mom and dad ... They're not together. They're divorced and both remarried. I never saw kissing or anything. I never saw slightly intimate moments. I think, for me, even in one of the questions y'all asked in the vehicle of poetry is I think for me I got to also recreate intimacy that I wanted to see ... Not to say that I wanted to see my parents in this very intimate way but I wanted to see what love looked like for them, physical attraction looked like. It was easy for me out of one things happening in my life and me being very sexually involved in ways, but I wanted to create these scenarios of what this could look like.
Vanesa: That's a really intense question. I think that I need time, I'm so sorry, to think about that, because it's really [crosstalk 00:29:42].
Kenrya: Don't be sorry for wanting to be thoughtful.
Vanesa: Yeah. That's really interesting. If you can ask the second part of that question?
Kenrya: Sure. Why is this important terrain for you to explore with your work?
Vanesa: Yeah, I think it's really important for me to be able to write out ... It's not even fantasy but being able to write out these really intense moments of role play, of masculine identified lesbians, trans ... The different ways that I might even explore through myself but that other people are actually grappling with in these really intimate ways of being with each other and looking at to see do I want this because I want it? Do I want this because I have been taught to want it? Especially that particular scene of going down.
Vanesa: We think that that's what we want to be able to give our partner, especially somebody that might not have been born with an actual body piece, the actual penis but the strap on and how important at certain times in my life strap ons have been in intimate moments but then also what does this mean that I'm doing this? What does it mean that I want to do it to help you see that I see you as this very masculine person as well.
Vanesa: I think for me with that poem and the other poems that I write, I think that I try to help to free people or to help move them along in their journey of representation through these very ... When I had been sexual with cis men, I never even liked that. I will do this for you because I know this is how you're identifying and I know that's how you want to be experienced in my mouth, like that's ... I don't know. That's just kind of ... I think it's freeing to be able to read that and also to be able to write it for myself and looking at ... It wasn't just about me doing this for you but it was also about maybe you were doing these things for me too. Just the freedom of the act and to be able to write about it.
Vanesa: Yeah. That's a hard one, though. [crosstalk 00:32:20].
Erica: No but that's a really great answer. That was a really great answer.
Erica: You say you're reading lots of young adult. Can you give us a few titles of what you're reading right now?
Vanesa: Yeah. And audio. A lot of them in the audio world right now because I'm on my computer a lot, a lot for work. I'm trying to give my eyes a break. I love hearing authors read their stuff. What got me into YA really, really was Jacqueline Woodson and her. Yeah. I ended up reading the majority of her YA and always go back to “Another Brooklyn.”
Vanesa: Let me see, I had to write down a list because I'm on like 15 books for the free library audio books. Yeah. They have a really great selection of audiobooks. Like I mentioned earlier, “Black Girl Unlimited” by Echo Brown and now even “Lead From the Outside” by Stacy Abrams. I had to switch away a little bit. Also, “Akata Witch” and “Akata Warrior” by Nnedi Okorafor.
Vanesa: Yeah. Those have been my two YA. I'm always reading a YA and also reading maybe an autobiography too. Definitely those are books, Echo Brown and Stacy Abrams are two people I'm just trying to get ... Stacy Abrams is such an amazing writer. I'm trying to get some encouragement from her.
Kenrya: This is the time.
Vanesa: Yeah. Yeah.
Kenrya: What does success look like to you?
Vanesa: Success? You know, I thought a good company, I live actually in Charlottesville, which is recent ... Yeah. I think that success looks like really living ... I think that ask me maybe before March I would have been like going on vacation and being able to do these different things but having been in real self-isolation for four ... I haven't been to the office in over 100 days and seeing maybe more than three people in 100 days, I think now success just looks like being able to walk outside and feel happy, surrounding yourself with people that care about you, doing things that make you happy, eating good food.
Vanesa: With success, I don't even think it's about a pay check anymore because so many people have lost their jobs. At the beginning of the year, they had the job. I think now it's just really being happy, doing things that make you happy, and being surrounded by people and things that make you happy and being able to go outside and sit in the grass and eat.
Kenrya: 2020 is such an interesting year I think. It's taken a lot from us but I think it's also given us a new perspective on a lot of things. It's helped some of us to be more community minded. Some of us to do the opposite.
Kenrya: Either way, this is going to be a landmark year.
Erica: I was going to say, this has been a crucible year. It has been life changing.
Kenrya: Literally generation defining. As a 39-year-old, the thing that I think used to define us was September 11th but we got some new shit now.
Vanesa: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Erica: Okay. Little fun now. I am going to say a word and you tell me the first word that comes to mind when I say it. Okay?
Kenrya: That sounds scary.
Erica: Don't be. Don't be. I only have a few. Words.
Vanesa: Ice cream. I have a really ... My favorite ice cream is this black marshmallow ice cream and the ice cream shop closed down.
Erica: Aww. Okay. Joy.
Vanesa: Bubble gum.
Vanesa: Ramen. I have a ramen cookbook. I love ramen.
Erica: Yeah. No. That makes sense. I love ramen. I love what can I do to it this time?
Vanesa: Yeah. What can I add into it?
Erica: Okay. Finish this sentence, I am a ...
Vanesa: A lover.
Erica: I love it. Okay. Well, that's all I've got for you.
Vanesa: That wasn't that scary.
Erica: See! We don't bite. I mean, we do but...
Kenrya: What's up next for you?
Vanesa: Yeah. I just had a conversation with a really dear close friend yesterday. I was like I am getting tired of talking about these things that I want to do. How can we do these things? I need accountability. I am going to be trying, like I just was sharing with you all, finishing up my Bible poems, one. Two, I've been working with some photography things, me and my cellphone photography. I'm thinking about what I can do ... I cannot let this thesis go yet because I took too long to write it. What are ways that I can revise it and then bring visuals to it? I'm just really obsessed with the Declaration of Independence still. I just have a couple more projects that I need to wring out from that before I can let it go.
Kenrya: That's awesome. Where can people find you?
Vanesa: I'm on Instagram. My page is private but people can send me requests if you want to but at AnesaVa. A-N-E-S-A-V-A on Instagram.
Kenrya: Dope. Thank you so much for coming on this week.
Vanesa: Thank you guys for having me. I really appreciate it. I've been looking forward to this so thank you all so much.
Kenrya: Yay. That's it for this week's episode of The Turn On. Thank you all for joining us and we'll see you next week.
Kenrya: This episode was produced by us, Kenrya and Erica and edited by B'Lystic. The theme music is from Brazy. Now you can support The Turn On and get off. Subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast app and then drop us a five star review and you'll be entered to win one of the things that's turning us on. To enter, just post your review and email a screenshot of it to TheTurnOnPodcast@gmail.com. Our Patreon page is also live. Become a supporter today and you'll access lots of goodies including The Turn On Book Club and two-for-one raffle entries. Don't forget to send us your book recommendations and sex and related questions and follow us on Twitter @TheTurnOnPod and Instagram @TheTurnOnPodcast. You can find links to books, merch, transcripts, guest info and other fun stuff at TheTurnOnPodcast.com. Thanks for listening and we'll see you soon. Bye.
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In this episode of The Turn On, Erica and Kenrya read from "Black Lesbians—We Are the Revolution!" and talk pegging, learning from our partners and if our ancestors watch us fuck.
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Kenrya: Come here. Get off.
Erica: Welcome to this week's episode of The Turn On. Today we will be reading a number of poems. I was about to say a number of poetries. A number of poetries from the anthology called “Black Lesbians—We Are the Revolution,” which was edited by JP Howard and Amber Atiya for Sinister Wisdom in winter of 2018. Sit back, relax. Get your wine, get your weed, get your whatever you need, and enjoy.
Kenrya: “Sinister Wisdom's Black Lesbians—We Are the Revolution.” Edited by JP Howard and Amber Atiya. “Questioning” by Vanesa Evers. I kissed her, not the other way around like my mother told me it would happen. She said the lesbian was aggressive, didn't care if you liked girls or not, they would attack you when you least expected it, but I kissed her and felt heaven inside. Should I tell my mother I am the aggressive lesbian she warned me about.
Kenrya: “Non/fiction” by Vanesa Evers. You ask me to kneel down between legs and suck what was never given to you but you don't want it really. Just want me spreading my tongue's liquid over the strapped firmness. I call you daddy, even though neither of us like ours, but daddy, you feel so good in my mouth. I stay down there until you release the back of my head, wanting me to believe something slid down my throat. It's okay though. I never liked it anyway.
Kenrya: “Black Moon” by Akinfe Fatou. I study the choreography of your heartbeat, your perfect saunter, what it means to be Black, to be lesbian and fearless. To be proud, daring to heal, save and love ourselves, to free our bodies in the face of patriarchy. In a society that sensationalizes violence against us. And seeks to marginalize, crucify, and shame us. Our existence is revolutionary. Our lovemaking is an act of resistance. We belong to ourselves and God.
Kenrya: “Untitled (Up In Harlem),” by Alena Singleton. I married u while making love to u, on a bare mattress, on a concrete floor, one sweaty night up in Harlem. I pledged my vows onto your thighs. The arch of your back quietly replied, “I do.”
Kenrya: “Hissing Fanon and Fuck You” by Arianne V. Benford. Fingertips raking trenches cross where my wings hide. Hissing Fanon and fuck you in the hollows of a spine curved as tempest. Tying your rings in my locks for safe keeping, because my skin weeps for you in eighty plus degrees. Now I know you know better. You know better than to call the fluttering in my thigh slight, the shiver and kick of drunken mule reckoning with hands of bridle and brass, that pulse circles and fireside two step. Conversation gurgling forth a brook from this throat ajar. Like thunder fracturing a 4:00 a.m. sky, there is nothing slight here. The way we bite and push, shove and suck, and stain the hardwood floor. Your hips above the face bowl bracing your left foot against the bathroom wall. The way our lips room temperature spread. Nothing slight when that stare carves up my ass for later, like enemies in honor, and honor in love, tangenting arguments in a succinct prayer, eyes open, eyes closed, claws out.
Kenrya: “Whole, and Nothing But” by Arisa White. My body feels true against your body. I swear, the truth. This sentence found an end. Start meets beginning—chest to chest, I swear. True as the dusk we love, my lifelines deep in the kink and kitchen of your hair. I got your cornrows, you got me by the breasts. Between our teeth, we need no standing translation.
Erica: Okay, y'all, so welcome back. Thank you, Kenrya, for your lovely rendition of the poetries. Did I say the-
Kenrya: The poetries.
Erica: The poems.
Kenrya: The poetries.
Erica: The poetries. Thank you so much. Okay, so we'll just jump right in to each one of them. Just a little bit about the anthology that we read. It's called Sinister Wisdom. They're a lesbian literary art journal. They release I want to say quarterly issues.
Kenrya: Yeah, I do believe so.
Erica: Because the one that we read from is Winter 2018, so they release quarterly issues of lesbian poetry.
Kenrya: Other things too. There's the Pat Parker collection that we read from last season was published by Sinister Wisdom too.
Erica: Yes, and also just in the journal, they also include stuff like photographs and art and that kind of thing. It's more than just poetry.
Kenrya: It's a pretty robust collection.
Erica: A robust collection. Good way to put it, Killa. The first poem that you read was “Questioning.” I think we've touched on this a little bit this season. They talk about how you ... Vanesa Evers wrote this article. Gosh, what's wrong with me? Vanesa Evers wrote this poem. To me the biggest thing that I took away from this is who are you in a relationship versus who people think you are. Like I said, we talked about this a little bit this season so far. One of the lines that stood out was how she ends it, "Should I tell my mother I'm the aggressive lesbian she warned me about?" It's interesting how you play, not that you play roles, but you have roles within your relationship that are intimate to the two of you and not necessarily what's projected on the outside or what people may think-
Kenrya: That's interesting.
Erica: ... or what people may know, because I think about just me as a person. I'm a very dominant force.
Kenrya: Yes, you are.
Erica: I'm a lot of person. I'm a dominant person. I find that I tend to take a more submissive backseat role in relationships, and I enjoy that. Where I fucked up is taking a submissive backseat role to motherfuckers that didn't deserve-
Kenrya: Don't know how to lead.
Erica: Yeah, exactly. Actually, I'm fine with that, I'm cool with it for the right person. Thank God for discernment now that I'm able to discern.
Erica: I think people see me and see my dynamic and relationships and think, "Oh, this bitch is running all the shots," where really it's like, eh, I don't mind running shots, but I also would love to have a nigga be the one riding.
Kenrya: Be the shot caller.
Erica: Exactly. Exactly. You know what? As I said that, it makes me think, you know how you hear women say, shit, I said this, birds said, "I'm a strong woman. I need a strong man to control me." Slow down, buckaroo!
Kenrya: Yeah, I feel like I've definitely heard you say that before.
Kenrya: I do believe I've heard you say that before, in your 20s.
Erica: Exactly. It's not even not necessarily that. It's not that, because you don't need ... I'm not like some fucking ape or donkey that needs to be controlled.
Kenrya: That's good.
Erica: We've said this before. I need to trust that you are going to lead us. I've found myself putting my trust in niggas that didn't quite need that, that didn't deserve that blind trust. Does that make sense?
Kenrya: It does make sense. I've been there.
Erica: You smell what I'm dropping?
Kenrya: I do. I really hate that analogy.
Erica: I know. It's grody.
Kenrya: I just see a horse pooping in the road.
Erica: Whatever, because I was just talking about a donkey.
Kenrya: Yes, that's what did it, the combination of the things.
Erica: The combination of the two. I definitely think about that, and then I think about relationships that I see and you're like, "Oh, he must be running the show," when maybe not. Maybe not quite.
Kenrya: It just really brings us back to this idea that we never really know what's going on in folks' relationships. We were just talking about this.
Erica: Just said that.
Kenrya: First of all, people put the version of their relationships in public that they want to, which is why anytime I see somebody say anything about goals about some shit they see on social media, I'll be like, "Oh baby, no."
Erica: I saw this meme on, it was somewhere, probably on my For You page or something, and it had a picture of Will and Jada, and they were cackling like, "Ha ha ha!" It was like, "Oh, and you all said we was goals." I'm like, "Exactly."
Kenrya: You never know how messy somebody's shit is on the inside.
Erica: I remember I had this person I worked with, and they were a fucking mess at work, just difficult. My other coworkers and I would sit around talking. We'd be like, "Oh, this nigga must not run shit at home, because he come here and is just a jerk, and there's no way in the world he do this shit at home and still with somebody." Years later he got divorced, and I talked to his partner. She was like, "Oh."
Kenrya: I know who you talking about.
Erica: "There's a reason that we got divorced." That shit was-
Kenrya: He tried that same shit at home.
Erica: Exactly. Exactly. It definitely makes me just ... This was an example of that. Then just the way that Vanessa talks about her mother explaining lesbians are aggressive, this is what lesbians do.
Kenrya: It brings us to those stereotypes, right?
Erica: Mm-hmm (affirmative). It reminds of, have I said this on the show, about how my granny was telling me, talking to me and my sister, and she said, "I know why them Black men like going with them white women." Me and my sister was like, "Why?" She said, "Because they let them, them white women's put they mouths on them Black men's penis. Ain't no self-respecting Black woman going to put her mouth on a man's penis."
Kenrya: Were you all already sucking dick at this point?
Erica: This was maybe five years ago, five to 10 years ago.
Kenrya: You'd sucked lots of dicks at that point.
Erica: Me and my sister looked at her and was like, "Oh my God, granny. Never. Thank goodness I'm with a Black man that don't believe in that kind of stuff. Pass me a water."
Kenrya: You nasty.
Erica: I know. It's another one of those situations, where you're like, "Aw. Poor thing." Now my granny's an ancestor, and she'd probably be like, "Oh, Jesus, the things that I missed."
Kenrya: The things that she sees, because I believe that our ancestors be hanging out, boy. They see more than we think they do.
Erica: Did we talk to our intuitive about that? I think I asked her or I saw her say somewhere, "Do they watch me when I'm rubbing one out?" She was like, "It's like they just close the door, like, 'Okay, we don't need to see that.'"
Kenrya: I remember once I was seeing our intuitive. This is right around when I was getting ready to ... I had already left my now ex-husband. She was communing with my grandmother. She was like, "Your grandmother funny as shit." I was like, "Yeah, she was." She was like, "She just said you about to have all kinds of nasty sex and she's so excited for you." I was like, "Thanks, grandma."
Erica: "Thanks, grandma."
Kenrya: She's very invested in the fact that I was going to have an amazing sex life, and I appreciate it.
Erica: I love that about our intuitive. One time she was like, "Do you see this card? It's a big eggplant, all this explosive stuff. He got a big dick and he's juicy." I was like, "Thank you. Thank you. That is very good to know." That's all I got for that one. You got anything to add about that one?
Kenrya: No. The lovely thing is that we're actually going to have Vanesa on the show next week, and so we get to dive even deeper into that poem with them, so it'll be great.
Erica: I know. That's why I'm trying not to do ...
Kenrya: Do too much there.
Erica: Say too much. On to another Vanesa poem, we read “Non/fiction.” This one's interesting, because she's using this poem to explore things that are roleplay, in a good way. I think we talked very early on in this show about roleplay and how I don't do costumes. "I'm a robot dinosaur." In this one she says, "I'll call you Daddy, even though neither of us liked ours, but you feel so good in my mouth." It's interesting how we use roleplay to explore some-
Kenrya: Work through our-
Erica: What'd you say?
Kenrya: I was going to say explore, but also to work through our shit.
Erica: Maybe we'll dig a little deeper into that, because I have been reading articles about how people use BDSM to work through trauma. I find that very interesting that they use some of the same things that were used against them to strengthen them.
Erica: Put a pin in that. We'll come back to that, because I don't necessarily feel like I am the one qualified to lead that discussion, but I think it's a good discussion worth having.
Kenrya: I love that.
Erica: Also, what I like about the end of this poem is how when you're using a strap, you get into it, and so they're like, "Look, stay down there until you cum," like you're using the strap to cum. It's like, "Wanting me to believe something slid down my throat, but that's okay, because I never liked that part anyway."
Kenrya: It's a very honest poem.
Erica: It's very honest, but it's also just really cool how they are aware that they're role-playing but feel so into it. I was dating this would guy, and he would let me peg him occasionally.
Erica: Damn. You was like, "Hm. Yeah."
Kenrya: I was just thinking I hadn't heard about this, and this is exciting. It feels like some kind of a fucking unicorn. I'm assuming this was a Black man that would actually let you-
Erica: It's a Black man. I'll tell you who it is when we get off of this because-
Kenrya: That's fucking dope.
Erica: Your mind will be blown at exactly who it is.
Kenrya: Oh, because I got an idea who I think it is.
Erica: Your mind will be blown.
Kenrya: I love it.
Erica: I loved it because I did it, but he would always be like, "Oh, I'm only letting you do this because you like to, you like this power." I'm like-
Kenrya: "Okay, nigga."
Erica: ... "Nigga, don't nobody just spread they booty cheeks because somebody else like it. You got to-"
Kenrya: To be clear, it feels good.
Erica: It does!
Kenrya: Stop acting like this shit don't feel good, like you don't got a whole organ that's right there that really, really loves this feeling.
Erica: That was my thing. I was cool with it. I was cool with it and I did it, because it was like, "Okay. All right. Let me do it. Wink. I like to do it," but it was just like, "Bruh, be real with yourself, because once you're real with yourself about that, then ... " Because we'd be doing it and he'd be like, "Don't you want to strap me?" I'd be like-
Kenrya: "Yeah, nigga."
Erica: ... "Yeah, okay." Yes, I did, but it was just like-
Kenrya: Yeah, he wanted it to be like it was your idea, not his all the time.
Erica: The thing is-
Kenrya: Just say what you want, bruh.
Erica: Niggas so dumb that they even ... He swore, he put it in my head, and it's like, "No, nigga. I like it, but you ain't ... " Anyway. The particular person that it was, they just made it seem like, "Oh, I care about you so much, I'm going to let you do it."
Kenrya: Did that take any of the shine off of it? Did it make it less fun because they weren't really standing grounded in the fact that this brought them pleasure?
Erica: Yes. Thinking about it now, yes, definitely, because for me I find that sex is fun when we're all in, when we just-
Kenrya: Everybody's enthusiastic.
Erica: Exactly. He was enthusiastic. He was trying to be like, "Aw. No, no! Okay, here."
Kenrya: He was being demure. Demure, but also it feels like, I don't know, I'm searching for a word. It feels to me, and tell me if this is what it felt like to you, almost on a continuum of a pity fuck, like, "Sure, if this is what you want, I'll do this." I want you to be ecstatic about what the fuck we're about to do. I don't want you to do it or make it seem like you're doing it just because it's something that I want you to do. I want you to do it because you're in and this is what you want to do at every step of the way.
Erica: Yes and no. Yes, I feel you on that, but it was clear to me once I got back there that he was-
Kenrya: You ain't stupid.
Erica: I think had I allowed the relationship to go further, I feel like I could've gotten that out of him. I ain't nobody's fucking counselor or therapist. I will be for the right person. I'm willing to explore those things with the right person.
Kenrya: He wasn't worth the investment.
Erica: It wasn't worth the investment, like, "All right. Now I'm going to open you up a little bit. Maybe the right person you'll find and you all can do this for real for real." It was definitely an interesting situation. I actually enjoyed it and loved the power and the roleplay that came from it, because even though I wasn't cumming from a dick, a plasdick, I still came from a plasdick. That was a good one.
Kenrya: Did it teach you anything about yourself and what you like?
Erica: I think it taught me that I like a nigga that's going to be honest about what he wants, because again, I don't want to feel like I'm having to ... You know how some niggas be like, "I don't want it if it's that easy," like the good reverend Tupac?
Kenrya: Uh-huh (affirmative).
Erica: I do want it if it's easy. That's my shit. Kenrya just did a body roll. The thing is, I do want it if it's that easy. I want us to all be clear about what the fuck we want and do it. I want us to be like, "Do you want to do it? Fuck yeah! Let's. Come on. I got the lube," pull out my favorite one, that kind of thing. I think that's what it taught me. I've always believed not to judge a book by its cover, but again, some niggas surprise you.
Kenrya: That they do.
Erica: That they do. On to the next. (singing) We read “Black Moon.” I loved this one. I love this one because it's a manifesto. I love the fact that they say, "Our existence is revolutionary. Our lovemaking is an act of resistance." I want to talk about this, but I don't really understand the situation enough. If I fuck this up, my bad. There's this rapper Tobin something. I feel horrible, because I actually really like him. It's the guy that did Arrest the Cops That Killed Breonna Taylor or the, you're not on the internet enough, “Try Jesus not me, Because I got these hands."
Kenrya: I watched that video.
Erica: That guy. It's him, I think it's his wife, and they got a kid, and the kid just be in the background like, "Wah!" Then they have a producer. I don't want to talk about it, because somebody's listening like, "No!" because I only catch them in passing on Instagram. I actually committed to following them today. I know we just talked about how you can't judge a book by its cover, you don't really know all of everything in a relationship, but that's what they feel like to me. They feel like this poem, where they just Black as fuck, they be in their Easter colors in a monochrome room. Is it monochrome?
Kenrya: Mm-hmm (affirmative), all one color.
Erica: In a monochrome room just talking about being Black and loving each other and kissing on fat babies. It is just the best thing on earth. I think he's a gospel artist or a gospel rapper. Maybe not a gospel rapper, but he ain't one of them, "Fuck a bitch in the pussy until she cum 10 times," kind of gal, so I feel bad saying this, but I'd love to see a sex tape, a consensual sex tape, because he's just big and Black and got gold teeth and it's just sexy. Am I being problematic?
Erica: You're looking at me. Kenrya's giving me this look.
Kenrya: I'm just listening! I'm just listening.
Erica: She has this look that she gives me when I'm being problematic, and I wasn't sure if that was the look that you were giving me.
Kenrya: No, I'm literally just ...
Erica: I would love to see them making love together, because in my mind, granted “Black Moon” is about to be lesbian and fearless, but nonetheless, I still feel like to be Black and fearless. It's just the fact that we choose to love each other openly, out loud, and proudly, is a really big fucking deal, especially in a time where niggas trying to kill us.
Kenrya: All the time.
Erica: Also, not to take away from the actual poem, which is about lesbians loving each other out loud, again, in this time where queer people are just getting fucking dogged, not only by-
Kenrya: Especially Black queer people.
Erica: I was about to say Black queer people are not only getting dogged by straights, but by the same motherfuckers that they are help advancing the fight for. Why I want to call it a article? This poem really, really, I fucking loved it. I loved it, loved it, loved it.
Kenrya: By the time I got to, "We belong to ourselves and God," I was just fully taken.
Erica: Yes. It just feels good. It feels-
Kenrya: It's like the poetic equivalent of “Fuck Them Other Niggas.”
Erica: Yes! Which I listened to this morning.
Kenrya: We were dancing to it this weekend.
Erica: We were?
Kenrya: You were drunk.
Erica: We all were.
Kenrya: You were playing the music, bitch.
Erica: I was?
Kenrya: I was the only sober person.
Erica: Yes, you were playing the music. I'll have to go back and look at pictures.
Kenrya: Oh my God.
Erica: It was definitely a wild one. I will say that.
Kenrya: We had a fun day. A fun, safe day in the midst of all of this.
Erica: In the midst of all of this.
Kenrya: COVID shit.
Erica: Which again, we're in a place right now, I feel like we need “Black Moon” cast projected on the side of a building or something right now, because this is a poetic “Fuck Them Other Niggas.” It's beautiful. It's strong. This is who I am. This is what the fuck we're doing. I can't get enough of it. I'm about to fuck up this woman's name. Akinfe Fatou.
Erica: I know I can say Fatou. I can't say the first, Akinfe. I'm so sorry, hon. Good Midwestern tongue. Mark that on your bingo cards.
Kenrya: We need to really make bingo cards.
Erica: We are going to. Watch out for that in Season Four.
Kenrya: The only other thing I really want to say about “Black Moon” that I love is it starts and she says she's studying her partner and that her partner is showing her and embodying what it means to be Black, what it means to be lesbian, what it means to be proud, what it means to be free. I love the idea of being partnered with someone who helps you to be more of yourself and that helps to bring you to that place. That's why I love, by the time that she says, it goes from her studying her partner to her saying that our lovemaking is an act of resistance, so now you're not two separate entities, it's about what you do together. It's about the fact that you belong to yourselves and to God, that you have now come together. She's shown you what this means. She's modeled this for you, and now you're there in that same space together. I love that.
Erica: I believe that each relationship, good or bad, teaches you something. Do you believe that?
Kenrya: I do believe that. I'm thinking about my shittiest relationships and the fact that I learned something. Don't mean I want to do it again, but I did learn something.
Erica: Now that I am better at picking partners and relationships, I think I look forward to learning more about, okay, so I think I know everything there is to know about me, but what is there new to learn? What will this uncover, in a good healthy way, as opposed to, I don't want to have to hit rock bottom to learn X, Y and Z anymore. Just let me learn it from a game-
Kenrya: I told you.
Erica: ... or we-
Kenrya: An honest conversation.
Erica: Exactly. Some good questions. “Untitled (Up In Harlem).” Reading it reminded me of this relationship I had in college, only because it says, "I married you while making love to you on a bare mattress on a concrete floor."
Kenrya: Bitch, I almost spit out my tea.
Erica: I didn't marry a nigga, but I definitely had a relationship in college where we slept on an air mattress. I would leave a real dorm room to go sleep on a fucking air mattress.
Kenrya: Bitch, you was wiling.
Erica: I was in college and in love and I had a good back. Now I'd be like, "Mm-mm (negative)." I remember the night my ex-husband and I bought our house, and I was just so hype to ... I was like, "We bought this house. We're going to spend the night in it." I brought the air mattress that we had, and we slept in this empty ass house on an air mattress. I remember I woke up at 2:00 in the morning and this nigga was gone. I said, "Where the fuck is he?" I look outside and this nigga is in the car, with the AC on, knocked out. He was like, "I tried waking you up. I knew you'd come out here soon."
Erica: That shit don't work when you hit a certain age. At the time it was sexy. Not sexy, but it was just like, "Aw, humble beginnings."
Kenrya: "We're together."
Erica: "We'll write these stories later in life when we're married and kids about how we used to, 'Oh, I used to go to your daddy house and sleep on the air mattress on the floor.'" Nigga, no. Not at all. I will tell all my babies, "You deserve so much more."
Kenrya: You do.
Erica: You deserve so much more.
Kenrya: However, in this poem, the feeling that I got from it was like, yeah, it was probably not the ideal situation, but I was so into you and so wanting you in that moment, that even on a fucking concrete floor-
Erica: Sweaty night.
Kenrya: ... I still found my way to you.
Erica: Yes. It's beautiful. It's beautiful. It's sexy. I could feel this poem. Again, this poem, I'm holding it up, this poem is a romanticized version of what I thought the struggle was in college.
Erica: Not to look badly on this poem. I don't want to make it seem like-
Kenrya: It's a beautiful poem.
Erica: It's a beautiful poem. I just think that young girls, not all girls, but some girls get caught up in, "The struggle is going to bond us together and this is going to be beautiful, and we'll look back on it." No, honey. Even that particular guy was a sweetheart, and it was just circumstances, whatever, but no, honey.
Kenrya: Have you ever made any proclamations while having sex, said things for the first time?
Erica: Bitch! I can't find it. I have a text message. This dude that I used to fuck, I think I showed it to you, that was like, "You told me you loved me." I was like, "Oh, I was dick drunk. My bad." Don't trust me. If I was a nigga, I'd probably done bought a million bitches cars, because, "Can I have a car?" "Yep, whatever you want."
Kenrya: "Just keep sucking that dick."
Erica: "I said that? My bad." I try not to get too crazy, but I definitely get dick drunk, pussy drunk, gooch drunk. I learned about gooch and now I keep talking about it. I don't even play with the gooch too often. I have. What about you? You seem like you're just too levelheaded to do that.
Kenrya: Yeah, I've never said anything in the heat of the moment that I couldn't take back.
Erica: I'm trash. Also I'm a gemini, so I might've actually truly, truly felt it right then.
Kenrya: In that moment.
Erica: It's just ...
Kenrya: I'm always thinking about the consequences and the fallout of shit, so nah, son, I ain't never.
Erica: See, that's the thing. When I'm in it and it's good, I'm in it. "Erica, what's your name?" "I don't know!"
Kenrya: I've had people say things to me in the middle that they probably did not mean to say, but nah, because I try not to take those things too seriously.
Erica: I probably need to have a disclaimer written on my back, like, "If you are here, anything that's said at this point, just ignore it." I get dick drunk, and it is over for me.
Kenrya: The next poem, which I think is pronounced “Hissing Fanon and Fuck You,” but you just told me I was probably wrong.
Erica: You all know I can't fucking pronounce shit. I don't know why she thinks that. Anyway, continue.
Kenrya: This poem was interesting to me, because what I got from it is that it is these two people who are lovers, but also they hate each other's fucking guts.
Kenrya: When they come together, it's like an explosion. It's like thunder, it says. There's a conversion that's happening. Shit, "Shove and suck, and stain the hardwood floor." So much of this felt violent in some ways. That's not a bad thing if that's what you like. I speak from experience. It was this idea that as much as they hate each other is the same amount that they can't keep their hands off of each other, and the fact that when they do come together, it is an explosion and they just can't help themselves. Have you ever found yourself fucking somebody who outside of fucking you really can't stand?
Erica: I think we talked about that. I don't think so. Maybe. What'd I say? Go back. Run that tape back. I can't remember if I did or not. Shit, that was last episode.
Kenrya: Was it?
Kenrya: I don't think so.
Erica: Shit. Anyway.
Kenrya: Also, a bitch is old and we recorded this a while ago.
Erica: I don't think so, only because I want to feel like you really like me. I don't like that, "He's mean to me so he likes me," shit.
Kenrya: Yes, that's what we're talking about, teaching our kids that a nigga shouldn't be mean to you if he likes you.
Erica: I don't think I do that, but maybe-
Kenrya: Have you ever found yourself going back to have sex with someone who you broke up with who you don't like? I hear that a lot, where people break up but they're still having sex, and I've never actually done that before. That feels along the same lines, I guess, depending on how you all broke up.
Erica: No. Did I? I don't think so. You know these pussy miles more than me, so maybe.
Kenrya: No one that's coming to mind.
Erica: I definitely remember breaking up with someone and then getting drunk and calling them and then we got back together and was doing it, but none of the, because I don't need that toxic shit. If we broke up, we broke up for a reason. That was the only time I doubled back to somebody. I do have people that I've had very intense sex with, so it was never sweet fucking, it was never slow stroking. It was put the nigga in a headlock and riding him until he turn blue in the fact, that kind of shit.
Kenrya: Was that emblematic of the rest of you all's relationship or was it only like that when you were having sex?
Erica: Actually, it was very much the opposite. It was very sweet and kind and doting and all of that, but then once we got to doing the do, it was just some like, "Is that a bruise?" type shit, which to me was a turn on, because it was like, "You were so ... " It was a turn on, because-
Kenrya: It's like in the movie when they say the name of the movie in the dialog.
Erica: It was a turn on, because it was so opposite of who he was as a person and as a lover.
Kenrya: It was unexpected.
Erica: Yeah. The first time it happened, I was like, "Oh, shit." It was very different. I think that's what made it even that much hotter, because he was one of them niggas that would have taken off his jacket and put it over a puddle if I needed him to, that kind of shit.
Kenrya: I never understood that. I'm like, "Don't it just all get wet?"
Erica: Don't you just step in it? Yeah.
Kenrya: Yeah, but anyway.
Erica: It makes sense in cartoons. “Whole and Nothing But.” I think that this one, one of the biggest things that I got from this, and you brought this up, is that intimacy brings the truth between two people. I say this all the time. Once you done had your face in somebody's booty, certain walls are broken down. That's not always the case, which I find a bit problematic anyway, because it's like, "We doing something this close."
Kenrya: I think there's a lot of situations in which you can do something that close and then walk away.
Erica: You know what? I totally agree. I am one that always says, "Hey, sex and intimacy are two different things." In sex, it feels like their lovemaking, their sex is just so icky and sticky and raw and passionate that anything that could be between them is now, those walls have come down and they are now just ... Two becomes one.
Kenrya: In an extra Black way.
Kenrya: In a really extra Black way.
Erica: I was just about to say, "I got your cornrows. You got me by the breast."
Kenrya: Yeah, and, "My lifelines deep in the kink and kitchen of your hair." That ain't nothing but two Black women.
Erica: Two niggas, loving on one another and sexing on one another. It also feels like you don't know what ... Who sings that song, and it's like, "I don't know where the ending begins." India.Arie.
Kenrya: Brown Skin. That's one of my favorite lines in that song, "I can't tell where yours ends and I begin." Oof. Yes.
Erica: You all got me ready to go.
Kenrya: I feel that way often, because my partner and I are about the same color. I be like, "Yeah, that's true, I can't tell."
Erica: You all got me ready to go pat this puss. This was just Black as fuck and beautiful and we're just two just folks all stuck in with one another and in love. I loved it.
Kenrya: I love this repeating refrain of the, "I swear." It feels like such a ... First of all, when we were a kid, we weren't really allowed to say, "I swear," but if you said it, you meant that shit, like, "I swear!"
Erica: My father died when I was younger, when I was 10, so like, "Put that on daddy grave." You put that on daddy grave, then-
Kenrya: You meant that shit.
Erica: We mean business. "You put it on your granny!" That kind of shit.
Kenrya: Yes. That popping up that, "I swear, the truth, chest to chest, I swear," it just felt so uniquely us.
Erica: I think that's so true with this entire, all the poems, all the poetries that we read in today's episode. It's all so beautiful and so Black. The words, the fabric of it just feels ... I'm rubbing my fingers like I'm rubbing a slick do-rag.
Kenrya: The silkiest of the silks.
Erica: The silkiest of the silks. This just feels good and Black in the sense of everything. There are a million little bits that just wouldn't nobody else understand, but you understand it and feel it and it just feels Black. These have been amazing poems. We had a lot more that we liked, but we had to settle on only a few.
Kenrya: We had to pick a few. Thank you to all of the poets that we featured, because they all gave us permission and said, "Hey, yeah."
Erica: Thank you to our good homies at Sinister Wisdom, who I think this is the second time we've worked with them.
Kenrya: Always a pleasure.
Erica: Always a pleasure, always hooking us up with dope ass works. You all are the best. That wraps up this part of the episode. We will go on to, (singing), What's Turning Us On. What's turning me on this week is Sliquid. It is a type of lube. It comes in a bunch of different, I don't want to say flavors, because they don't taste, but-
Erica: Varieties. They come in a bunch-
Erica: A bunch of different blends. Sliquid is this really cool lube. It's a silicone-based lube, which means your body doesn't absorb it, which means a little bit goes a long way, and it stays. Only thing that I would not do is use that shit with your silicone toys, because it'll break it down.
Kenrya: It can make it sticky.
Erica: I love this fucking lube.
Kenrya: You put me on to this one.
Kenrya: You put me on to that one too.
Erica: Two things. One, they also sell them in little bitty packets, which are great for your hoe bag, so you don't have to tote a whole bag, a whole jar of lube, a whole bottle of lube with you. You can just dink dink dink dink dink. Second, a sex educator put me on to this. I think I might've mentioned it. Buy those little pumps, those little screw pumps, and put them in the top of your lube, so you don't have to-
Kenrya: That's way easier.
Erica: You literally just, and go at it.
Kenrya: I'm so sad that you all don't get to see all the hand movements.
Erica: Next season. Next season.
Kenrya: So many hand movements.
Erica: I love it. I think it's the best. We're going to include a link to it in the show notes.
Kenrya: In the What's Turning Us On page on our website.
Erica: If you're looking for just a good lube for everyday types of stuff, use this, or you could use it with your silicone toys, just got to put a condom over it. Use it. It's great. I love it. It's turning me on.
Kenrya: Love that.
Erica: That's all I got.
Kenrya: That's what up.
Erica: That was an easy one. This was an easy one.
Kenrya: Lube sells itself.
Erica: With that said, this was a great episode. You got anything else for us, any announcements?
Erica: Buy Kenrya's book.
Kenrya: Yep. I got another book out. Thanks, boo. It's called “Anti-Racism: Powerful Voices Inspiring Ideas.” It's available everywhere, but I always recommend that you buy it at a Black bookseller. Let's keep our money circulating our community.
Erica: We will include links in the show notes.
Kenrya: It's on our Bookshop page as well.
Erica: I'm sorry, that's what I meant. We'll include it on our Bookshop page. With that, this is Erica. Two hoes, making it clap. I can't do this on my own.
Kenrya: This is Kenrya, two hoes.
Kenrya: You said, "This is Erica."
Erica: No, I said, "This is Erica and Kenrya."
Kenrya: Mm-mm (negative).
Erica: My bad.
Kenrya: Making it clap!
Erica: With that said, this is Erica and Kenrya.
Kenrya: Two hoes.
Erica: Making it clap.
Kenrya: Making it clap. Whatever. One day. Maybe.
Erica: This episode was produced by us, Erica and Kenrya, and edited by B'Lystic. The theme music is from Brazy. Now you can support The Turn On and get off. Subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast app, then drop us a five-star review, and you'll be entered to win something that's turning us on. Post your review and email a screenshot to us at TheTurnOnPodcast@gmail.com to enter. Our Patreon page is also live. Become a supporter today and access lots of goodies, including two-for-one raffle entries. Don't forget to send us your book recommendations and sex-and-related questions. Follow us on Twitter @TheTurnOnPod and Instagram @TheTurnOnPodcast. You can find links to books, merch, transcripts, guest info and other fun stuff at TheTurnOnPodcast.com. Thanks for listening, and we'll see you soon. Holla!
The Turn On
The Turn On is a podcast for Black people who want to get off. To open their minds. To learn. To be part of a community. To show that we love and fuck too, and it doesn't have to be political or scandalous or dirty. Unless we want it to be.