The words are trapped in her throat

Using Her Voice to Rise Above

For a citywide talent show, canada goose uk black friday Felicia wants to sing about teenage life in Newark. just saying, who holds tomorrow? she asks. are not promised even today. Bullets ain got no names on them. (Juana Arias/The Washington Post)

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Five hundred students are packed into the old timey auditorium at West Side High School. A piano begins, then a jazz drum. Onstage, in shadows, Canada Goose Coats On Sale two figures sit at a table with their backs to the audience. The crowd beckons them, Newark style, calling and pleading, daring and challenging. Come on, now. Bring it.

canada goose outlet new york city Felicia Holt canada goose clearance sale and Valencia Bailey spring to their feet. canada goose outlet new york city

They grew up playing ball together in the rusted out hooplands of Newark, where they won their honor by scrabbling and sweating in pick up games with the boys. Tonight at the school talent show they are fighting for something more important: the honor of their friend Sakia Gunn, who was stabbed to death at a Newark bus stop after telling a man she was gay.

After Sakia died, Valencia filled page after page of a spiral notebook, penning an epic rap poem about her best friend, who bled to death in her arms. Now in this overheated Cheap Canada Goose UK auditorium cheap canada goose uk on a winter’s night, her poem of gay friendship and loss becomes the uk canada goose 2004 class anthem about the precariousness of teenage life in Newark, where four West Side students died of gunfire in a year.

Taking the microphone, Valencia lets the words fly from her mouth.

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canada goose factory outlet Felicia’s voice gets under the rhymes, harmonizing. She watches Valencia, who paces with increasing fury as she bats out the lyrics canada goose uk shop in a Canada Goose Jackets mist of spit. This isn’t just a performance for Valencia, it’s an explosion that has been building for months. Her springy bleach tipped braids are flattened under a do rag as she moves toward the front of the stage. canada goose factory outlet

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official canada goose outlet Valencia shudders and stops. The words are trapped in her throat. “Come on, V!” someone shouts, but canada goose uk outlet Valencia drops to her knees, overcome. Felicia tries to lift her. The piano and drums play on, waiting for the singers. For the first time, Felicia falters, wiping her cheap Canada Goose eyes. The students urge them on. official canada goose buy canada goose jacket outlet

“Sing it, V.”

“Finish it, now.”

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Valencia finds herself. She whirls upright, finishing her canada goose clearance song, fast and hard. The microphone thuds to the ground. Valencia starts to fall sideways. Felicia reaches out to catch her.

canada goose outlet canada The fact that two lesbians in boxers are crowned as the buy canada goose jacket cheap moment’s truth tellers matters little to Canada Goose Outlet the crowd. Grief has equalized them all. canada goose outlet canada

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canada goose black friday sale Basketball gave Felicia and Valencia a certain status that brought instant coin with the girls. In high school, Felicia gravitated toward music while Valencia had her sights set on playing for the Women’s National Basketball Association. Her junior year, she is 16, with light filled marble eyes and braids that bounce when she trots down court. She doodles play canada goose patterns and to do lists (“GOALS FOR A POINT GUARD”) and presents them to her coach for consideration. canada goose black friday sale

canada goose outlet store uk But as the 2004 season approaches, Valencia is still haunted by Sakia’s death. Seven months later, the bloody clothes she wore that night still hang in her closet. canada goose outlet store uk

“Son, the kid’s messed up,” Felicia says of Valencia one day after practice. Shelley Perkins, a guidance counselor at West Side, has a starker assessment. “It’s like she’s dying inside.”

canada goose outlet black friday There is one ray of optimism. The Lady canada goose black friday sale Rough Riders of West Side High have a new coach, Latasha Thompson, a former St. John’s University player who is determined to bring a sense of discipline to her street ballers by holding study hall and insisting the team dress up on game days. Coach Thompson, 24, is unbothered by the fact that a few of her players are tomboy lesbians who call themselves A G’s, short for aggressive. “I was around that in college,” Coach Thompson says. All she asks is that her players keep their dramas out of the gym canada goose outlet black friday.

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