Lucky Number Seven is a a brief interview with someone interesting in the public eye, chopped into easily consumed tidbits of data for your brain space.
Komplicated has been proud to present Southside Nefertiti, the tale of a single mother superhero keeping the piece in an urban environment. She is, oddly enough, also the only one with a Twitter account, and she's kindly agreed to sit down with Komplicated for an interview breaking down exactly how she does her thing..
KOMPLICATED: In that you don't (yet) have a Wikipedia page or a Handbook-styled entry, could you give our audience a basic rundown on who you are and what sorts of things you're capable of?
NEFERTITI RAYNES:My name is Nefertiti. I was born and raised on the Southside of Metro City, just like my mother Kleo, my Aunt Ruth and every generation of my family as far back as I can remember. I am a mother, a niece, a best friend, a business owner and a college student — when I have time. (Laughs)
I also spend a lot of time helping people who struggle in my neighborhood. Some people call me a superhero, but I'm really just wanna make my mama proud. As far as origin, we don't really know where these powers come from. My Aunt Ruth just says, "somebody in our family gets touched every generation." She says one of our ancestors got burned at the stake in Salem and my great, great, great grandaddy led some kind of supernatural slave rebellion in South Carolina.
When my mother got it she became this incredible superhero street activist. She had this group called the Street Disciples — they were like Black Panthers with superpowers. They led all these protests, held rallies, fought corruption and really just did everything they could to keep these streets safe. But then she died and a lot of the group got arrested and things just fell off.
I started getting my powers around puberty. One day, I was a shy little girl with big ol' nerd glasses and braces and then all of a sudden I could outrun grown men, lift cars and punch through brick walls. Then the healing started and it got REALLY weird. My eyesight got better, so I stopped wearing glasses and started running track. I'd run sprints, mess around and sprain my ankle but then everything would be healed after two minutes. I set so many records every college in the area started recruiting me. I got the big head, though: All the girls hated me and all the guys thought I was stuck up. (laughs) I was always getting into fights and always getting thrown out of school.
I left for college as soon as I could. But I lost my scholarship after they started banning mega-sapiens from sports. Then I got pregnant, so I had to drop out completely. When I got back home, I thought it would just be me and her and Joshua, but I walk in the door and some dude name Roberto is laid out on the couch. I'm like, "Who is THIS GUY? Why she got this OLD THUG living up in here with us?!" (Laughs) I'm feeling like Keith when he moved in with the Evans family on Good Times, man, just a total failure. But you know what? Roberto took me under his wing, he looked out for me in the streets and he gave me a job at Double R. Then he built The Truce and I really saw what life was all about. People started asking for help and after being around him, I knew I couldn't say no.
K: Recently, the arrest of Phoenix Jones has shone the spotlight of public scrutiny on street-level vigilantes … at least one's not as well funded as Batman or sanctioned by Steve Rogers. What would you say to, and about, people motivated to join you on the streets, taking justice in their own hands?
NR: Funny you ask that. Funds actually DO matter. The only reason Southside folks needed my mother or needed me is because we don't get equal protection. I caught some knuckleheads, but my boy B. Grimes has to call his partners on the police force to take those fools into custody. We call? They never show up. You think that happens up off Kensington Parkway? Or down by Riverside Drive? No way! So when people try to make this political and call me a vigilante or whatever, I just say, "Hey, if people were doing their jobs, folks wouldn't need me."
I will say this, though. I don't do this for justice. Tee Ruth always tells me, "Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord." I'm not trying to pay anybody back for anything. People bring me their problems and I do my best to help. That's it.
K: Tell us about your relationship with your son. What does he think about the things you do? It must be hard to spend time with him, given how many responsibilities you have, right? What sorts of things do you do with him to help him grow up right?
NR: That's my little man! My aunt says I spoil him to death and you know what? She's right! I can't help it, though. I just see myself coming home from work one day and my son looks at me like, "Who are you? I don't know you!" That's really my worst nightmare.
Thank God for Tee Ruth, honestly. We got him in a magnet school close to her house, so he goes over there after class. He even spends the night over there during the week. No matter how busy I get, I make sure we talk twice a day, every day.
So for the most part, he's a good kid. Every now and then he'll try to test us, but Tee Ruth is ruthless with that switch. (Laughs) Honestly, I'm like Dad. She'll be like, "Don't make me tell your mama," and that boy will get right QUICK! He probably thinks I'll go all SUPERMAMA on him or something but I'd never touch him. He don't need to know that though! (Laughs)
K: Given what we saw in your first season on Komplicated, you're a big music fan. If we tracked down the last ten songs you listened to, what would they be? Who are your favorite artists?
NR: Oooo, good question. (Pause) I listen to so much music, it's hard to pick just one artist. If I had to break it down, I'd say my favorite rapper is either Tupac or Big Daddy Kane. I love it when you hear that voice and they got that swagger and they really have something to say. If they're fine? Hey, that's even better! (Laughs)
My favorite singer is probably Shirley Ceasar. I wanna start bawling as soon as she opens her mouth! She just FLOODS you with the spirit. For male singers, I'd say Teddy Pendegrass. When he sings, I just close my eyes and zone. Tee Ruth played 'Wake Up' the other day and it was like I was back in the 70's. The last ten songs are kinda skewed 'cause me and Tenora had a cookout. Her music is way classier than mine, LOL! Soooooo, the last ten songs would be (in no particular order)
- "Green Eyes" by Erykah Badu
- "Everybody Loves the Sunshine" by Roy Ayers
- "Mami Te Gusto" by the Afro Cuban All Stars
- "Oye Como Va" by Celia Cruz
- "Poor Georgie" by MC Lyte
- "Shake Life" by Jeezy
- "Sweet" by Common
- "Valley of Death" by Rick Ross
- "Dale Mami" by Somya Reece
- "N****s in Paris" by The Throne
K: A lot of sisters probably admire your strength, and see how hard you grind as an inspiration. When times are hard and everything's going wrong, what do you turn to, to keep you motivated?
NR: Sacrifice. My Aunt Ruth is almost eighty, but she still has a prison ministry, she beat cancer, she helps me raise Joshua and she never complains or asks for a dime. She lives her whole life by faith, despite everything she's been through. That motivates me, because I feel like if she can thrive, with no super powers, no college education, no husband, then I really don't have any excuse at all.
Also, I think about Roberto and how much he gave up and how he ALWAYS believed in me. A lot of folks on the Southside wrote me off when I decided to keep Joshua. They said I ruined my family legacy, said my mama would be ashamed. But this ex-con from the Eastside stood by me. He didn't have to do it, but he did.
So when I'm tired, or frustrated or think about taking my son somewhere and living a normal life, I think about them. They keep me going.
K: Everybody knows you as this bada$$ sister, but we'd like to know: when was the last time you really swooned with joy? What gave you that kind of happiness?
NR: What gives me joy? Besides my aunt's macaroni and cheese? (Laughs) No, honestly — my son gives me joy all the time. Like, the other day — somehow, this child KNEW I had been out working all night. I come home dirt tired. I hadn't healed up yet, I'm just totally busted. I fell asleep in all my gear, laying in the bed, boots still on, mask still on, the whole nine. I wake up the next morning, and the child has cleaned up my room, made me some of his Crunch Berry cereal, somehow made coffee and found some flowers to put in a vase. He has it all arranged on the kitchen table with a note on the tray. I open it up and it just says, "I'm sorry you had a hard night."
I was TOO THROUGH! That boy drives me crazy, but I swear I don't know what I would do without him.
I like simple things, too. Me and my girls, just having a beer on a nice day. Throwing the top back and taking a long, fast drive out on the expressway. A good church service. The way somebody looks at you after you help them through a rough time. I mean, you never know when something will happen that can give you joy. When you have a job like mine, you have to keep your eyes open for joy, man. People like me need as much of it as we can get.
K: Let's say it's 100 years from now. What would you like people to remember about Southside Nefertiti.
NR: It isn't really about me. It's about inspiration. My mother inspired folks on the Southside, just knowing there was somebody out there that cared about them. Roberto inspired folks, my great great great granddaddy, and now maybe me, too. So, a hundred years from now? I hope there's an army of Nefertiti's out there, helping people everywhere. If they don't remember me specifically, that's cool. They just need to do the work.
[Source: Nefertiti Raynes]