Lovely Davis Was A Freedom Fighter…

In Loving Memory of Tynesha Davis, aka Jenny Keys, aka Lovely

Photograph by Darron Whitsett.
Courtesy of Nickle City Poetry

Tynesha Jeanette Davis (aka Lovely), 29, transitioned from this world to take her rightful place among the ancestors, July 29th, 2017.
Lovely was an unapologetically Queer Black Woman — a teacher, healer, revolutionary, poet, photographer, scholar, musician, and visionary. Lovely was also a proud and unabashed Communist, who did not shy away from educating others on her personal and political beliefs. Lovely dedicated her life to Black liberation and fighting for the most marginalized. Her legacy lives on through the children she inspired and nurtured, her invaluable contributions to her beloved communities, and the many lives she enriched with her bold brilliance and artistry.
Lovely developed her interests in poetry and photography while attending McKinley High School in Buffalo, NY. She continued to cultivate those passions as an undergraduate at Buffalo State College, where she eventually attained her Bachelor’s in literature. While attending BSC, Lovely expanded her appreciation for radical Black feminist authors in the vein of Audre Lorde and Lorraine Hansberry. She was also a member of the Black student group “B.A.M.” (Black Active Minds), where she helped promote principles of “self-awareness, self-determination, collective work, and responsibility.” Upon graduation, Lovely received honors for exemplary academic performance and scholastic excellence, and was awarded the prestigious title of McNair Scholar by the State University of New York at Buffalo.
Lovely went on to receive her Master of Arts from Binghamton University, where she assisted in teaching classes on race and gender. Lovely’s thesis was an amalgamation of her various interests, and focused on social inequities and power dynamics found in dystopian fiction. Despite her formal education and accreditations, Lovely was vigilant in rejecting the social elitism frequently associated with those accomplishments. Lovely used her knowledge and insights to educate, empower, and defend ALL members of Black communities.
Lovely is survived by her mother, Ineda Baker-Collins; her father, Walter Davis Jr; her paternal caregiver, Terrance Mcgee; her siblings, Tionna, Tajuanya, Markcus, Anthony, and Trekeva; and a host of beloved cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews. Lovely also leaves behind her loyal friends, comrades, and accomplices, who are eternally grateful to have had the opportunity to know Lovely and bear witness to her profound truth.
She will be dearly missed.
“Lovely Davis was a freedom fighter, and she taught us how to fight.”
Artwork by Darron Whitsett. Words by Masai Andrews.

Courtesy of Nickle City Poetry

Manifesto not a Eulogy (for Lovely)

It would be quite obvious and simplistic to quote,
“For Colored Girls who Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf.”
You are Colored Girl who transitioned non-fiction because the world did not understand
your type of rainbow.
You are free arching,
overwhelmingly bright when mixed with the sun and rain of life,
an arcane existence
You so brilliantly enveloped all the colors that life handed you.
Rainbows are never bothersome nor arrogant and loved by all,
for i never met a person who hated rainbows.
You wanted to be loved like an awesome , groovy, revolutionary rainbow streaking thunderously
through the sky, no matter sun or storm.
You are a bitcheon rainbow with an attitude,
Which brings me back to,
did we really understand how to love a rainbow like you?
The quote goes “when the rainbow is enuf”
but did you know the rainbow is you?
Did you know, Lovely, that you were enuf,
or maybe even, too much for some of us?
This episode called life is phenomenal.
We were placed in each other’s lives many years ago.
A baby face filled with inquiry looked at me humbly and said,
“Queen, how can I do poetry like that? Will you teach me?”
i looked at a baby with a baby growing in my womb,
so i turned inward and assumed womynstance and said, “Yes.”
We both were babies that day and started on a new journey together.
There is so much to be learned from life of Tynesha/Jenny Keys/Lovely.
She loved life fully from the roots to the edges and loved openly.
She was a young Afrikan Princess turned Warrior Queen.
Lovely loved voraciously.
She studied profusely.
She studied the act of voracious love profusely and without shame.
In the face of opposition and rejection,
her mission was to fight for the courage to love, the right for equal life,
and justice for all over and over again.
Her goal was not just to confront racist, sexist, imperialist, homophobic, YT Supremacist,
“hoteper” oppression.
She stayed awake nights researching, strategizing, and execution plan on how to annihilate it.
The “Political is Personal” was her battle cry.
Her philosophy of love was pure and relentless FEMINIST.
The Last Poets said that “Niggas R Scared of Revolution.”
My sistah knew this,
that’s why she labored and committed her movements wholeheartedly,
because she would not bring any self-truth to this.
Lovely is my light, my spine, my ride or die, my living example of FEARLESS LOVE.
She gave her entire self to everyone she LOVED — — sleet, snow nor rain, dollar nor dime, bus nor train would stop her from LOVING you.
In ghetto terms they call that “yo’ one…”
“Yo dat’s my one right therrr.”
All her LOVED ones must have at least one night where you were hurt and crying over something or somebody and LOVE said,
“Do you need me to come there? What do you want me to bring: my pepper spray, chains, brass knuckles, my sword…What???”
i’d say, “Stand down for now Lovely.”
But….
She last wrote, “#whowillcryforthelittleblackgirl?”
What do you do when after tireless, thankless work,
you come home, remove your armor, and reveal your war-torn skin?
Who will love you despite your scars? Who is safe to let in?
What do you do when you want the world to be your friend
and when you open the gift of your embrace,
they refuse to come in for whatever reason?
The worst crime is unrequited LOVE
and it deserves capital punishment and be listed as the #1 act of terrorism.
Rape belittle, degrades, manipulates, assaults, murders, and destroys
the minds, bodies, and souls of womyn and their children for generations.
Denial and rejection of love food to a hungry child is an act of mal-creation.
For Lovely, the absence of nurturing LOVE is called patriarchy.
Restore the womb, keep womyn sacred, and heal her position are first on this planet.
Jenny’s favorite song was called “Love Will Never Do Without You” by Janet.
That was her last message, that she could march, protest, organize, and chant until the violent break of dawn,
but it meant nothing without LOVE.
If only she knew how much and how well she was/is LOVED.
If only the enemy of pain did not subsume her heart
so she could gain wisdom and testimony to see
that at the end of the rainbow is an even GREATER LOVE and greater herstories.
Her little, beautiful, brown-girl-womyn body,
so innocent and fragile regardless of the battle scars and weaponry.
She IS and FOREVER will be the essence of LOVE and beauty.
Have you ever saw into her smile and heard her crack-up-crazy laugh?
Did you appreciate her creative, artistic, sexy, social-political fashion sense?Did you know she was a walking breathing Revolutionary Library of Congress?
Did you allow yourself to be LOVED by Tynesha/JennyKeys/Lovely?
She LOVED me so much so, she always offered herself to help me zip up my coat,
and say ‘Come on Ol’ Lady, let’s go.”
Tynesha/Jenny Keys/Lovely is a daughter, a sister, a true friend, a scholar, a poet, an activist, a souljah, a teacher, a mother-nurturer, a freedom fighter, and so many other things.
Her poetry is prophesy, just check out what these few lines read:

“If I am not free to be me, then I must not be.” from “I’m Going to Canada” (2006)
“This is my agony. Whenever I see, I see her. Whenever I breath, I breath her. Wherever I move, I feel her…I’m human, don’t judge me! I’m human, it tortures me! I’m human. This is my agony!” from “My Agony” (2007)
“I say to patriarchy. Head like a hole. Darker your soul. I’d rather die than give you control” from “Justify” (2011)

On November 15, 1987, her parents were given a constant reminder of the real LOVE that the birthing process of joy and pain can bring. Then finally on July 29, 2017, just as boldly as she lived, she decided to leave….
Beyond agony.
Beyond moving to Canada.
Beyond the vulnerability where lies and truth are hazy.
Beyond the terrible violence of this cold, contradictive, God-forsaken world.

Rainstorms and sunshine create rainbows that Colored Girls can use as
liberation jump ropes, bracelets, hairbands, and necklaces.
LOVELY, you gave us so many colors of light to bathe in.
Now you are FREE.
Now it is your time to SHINE.

WE LOVE YOU!

©vonetta t. rhodes 7/31/17 9:00am

Photograph by Tynesha “Lovely” Davis

“The poem inserted into a funeral program should have good meter and metric so folks can murmur in agreement as they leave that this block of words reminiscent of a Hallmark card captured who you are to us perfectly“
Poem by DiDi Delgado.
Lovely…

You’ll never be a Hallmark card.

No rhyming blurb of sympathetic words.

You are a powerhouse mixtape CD turned MP3. You are that feeling of magical nostalgia of an old school beat. You are a Black star that illuminates the midnight sky. You are the heat and eternal warmth that we embrace from a 12 o’clock midday sun. The beautiful and meteoric impact you have on this world can and will not be contained or silenced.

We cannot memorialize memories. Your legacy and lessons will be shared well beyond Facebook, video and posts. My dear, you are a muse for addressing personal pain at the root of its poisonous political source.

In your final message to those who loved you most you asked us “Who will cry for the little black girl?” Well, on the third day after your death I sat on the bank of the Bayou St. John and screamed out my cry. The echo of your name on the water was so profound it was chilling. I had previously been afraid of touching the body because of the unknown. Jenny, I have learned from you to embrace next steps.

The tears rolled down my cheeks in rivulets that ran wildly into Lake Pontchartrain, then collected themselves in the Mississippi River right before pouring out into the Atlantic via the Gulf of Mexico. Amazing isn’t it? How seemingly one drop of water can create an entire ocean then spread to the rest of the world.

Let us remember you have achieved what we’ve been fighting for beyond texts and tweets.

Let us remember how you liberated yourself from a starving society that leaves the dark skinned girls always for last. One that chastised you for asking for basic needs like food, housing and love. A society who sees the inalienable rights of Black women as astronomically alien.

Let us remember your silent rainbow as it mirrors the sea.

Let us remember to let your voice be a ripple that carries the wave on the current to freedom.

Let us remember to fill the space between our last “hello” and our final “goodbye” with all the things we should have said while you were still here.


Courtesy of Nickle City Poetry

#ForLovely