the overwhelming world: snippets

returning from being out of country and mostly away from the news, i find there is too much to take in. and i am moved to:

– remind everyone that Octavia Butler‘s Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents are required reading for all humans right now, not as escapist fantasy, but as relevant instructional prophecy. it was her birthday on the 22nd and i think she is whispering to us through her pages across time.

– send love to those who know borders, walls and fences cannot hold us, cannot keep us from each other. ‘our destiny is to take root amongst the stars’ (we are made of stardust).

and since i last wrote here, jasmine abdullah was released on bail! i love the idea that when she was pulled through that wall we all extended through it with practice and attention and strategies and family, and we didn’t let go, and we pulled until the wall shivered. want to really uplift the practices of chelsea cleveland who pulled a tarot card for black liberation each day, che rene who sent us an original song and alexis pauline who wrote this poem and released it the morning of jasmine’s release.

how you are in relationship is how you are.

i saw beyoncé’s formation tour in detroit. i immediately bought tickets to see her again. that is my review.

the allied media conference was beautiful this year. i spent my time there in healing circles and rituals for orlando. i also got to cofacilitate the say her name gathering. there is a lot of tenderness in my work these days, a lot of opening and closing of circles, a lot of slowing down and trusting the strange processes of humans. we only move forward as we are able. it felt like as we stood face to face with each other we were clear that we have to rise above small differences – we are still more alike than most of the world, moving towards justice. family reunion feeling was in effect, and i met a lot of beautiful new loves over those days.

and i danced.

i want to tell you how i danced but you know it doesn’t fit into words. during and afterwards i felt free and i felt in communication with my body. i am healing and it is glorious, it is glorious to remember in my bones that i am meant to dance. it is healing to dance in queer space, always has been. i needed it, we needed it.

i spent the past week mostly away from the internet, working with first nations and environmental organizers building responses and strategies around the tar sands. the main thing i learned in holding that space is that everyone wants to be seen in their best intentions. then, maybe, there can be a real conversation around impact. people building movement over time will impact each other, but we still want to be seen for our good intentions, for our good hearts. often this is at the root of having disagreements with integrity – being able to see each other’s goodness in spite of the different perspectives that are just the nature of human existence. seeing where we can agree today in ways that increase the space for alignment in the future.

now i am deep in processing a pile of super exciting proposals from detroiters who are shifting the narratives of our city. my heart is swelling and i feel…hopeful.

when i look up it’s all overwhelming, tectonic shifts in global politics, and devastating national decisions. but if i keep my head down on the present moment, on the people i can touch, the places i love – there is a lot of good, a lot of pattern shifting, a lot of micro-liberations. we are learning to hold each other close as the bottom falls out.

it’s falling, it must fall.

in this way we will fly.

this will be america

my friend jodie reminded me of this piece i wrote a few years ago about being an american revolutionary, particularly section 6. she has reposted that section in the past, calling it ‘america, i must love her':

you cannot shirk responsibility for this country
you cannot shake off these atrocities
its a bloody birthright
all children are born into blood
you have to grow up by growing down into the soil
past the burnt bodies and broken buildings
built on broken bodies and broken promises
built up, bloody borders
borders you live in whether you want to or not

you are the ones we’ve been waiting for

it was hard to revisit the poem in the shock and grief of orlando. and it feels important to remember my own responsibility in this place. i sit in the spirit of grace lee boggs and octavia butler, knowing i, a post-nationalist american-born revolutionary, need to do the hard work of taking on america, and shaping the future that can grow from this place. so.

    this will be america

we are strewn across the street
or the sticky sweet floor
where we called ourselves home
where we got ourselves free
now slick with our blood
this
is america

we are heads bent knees bruised
guilty in hushed prayer
god’s words telephoned across time
to tell us: everything you need
is made of fire
this
is america

we are children, somebody’s children
we are innocent children
we are wayward children
we are violent children
and we fight and we grieve like children
this
is america

we are warriors brought home in whale bellies
to fight, to die on this soil
in an unnamed civil war spilling all our borders
on one side is humanity
and we cannot see the other side
this
is america

we are bruised broke-open fruit
a piled mess under ancient trees
which will only grow with us
we permeate the roots, seething, seeding
we will never go anywhere else
this
is america

we are born with our dignity
we look beautiful weeping, waging love
when scared we sashay the tar streets
press together in the steaming darkness
sweating out freedom songs, love songs
this
is america

we are growing and falling apart
and we are absolutely terrifying
we are stunning funghi, transforming this toxic soil
we are swallowing our dead
becoming worthy of our miracles
this
is america

we cannot separate now
there is nowhere else, no escaping ourselves
millions whisper rituals into dirt and flesh
millions, millions hold each other, raging, changing
fecund with our sacrifices
and this
this will be america

and our future will inhale together
to sing out a bright axe ooh
and remember the names of our martyrs
as we offer each other abundance
as we finally, finally learn we are love
and this
this will be america

thank you to dani, jodie and autumn for holding this with me

lighting candles for orlando, and for all of us

lighting candles of liberation and nirvana for the 50 souls in transition from the pulse nightclub in orlando. i hope they are holding each other in the journey.

lighting candles of inner and outer healing for the injured, may they recover and be supported from the trauma of what they survived.

lighting candles of grief for the queer, trans, latinx and black communities of orlando for this massive loss – we are family, i mourn with you. what a massive loss.

lighting candles of protection and solidarity for my muslim and arab beloveds as this country does its favorite thing – using one phobia to feed another, deflecting blame after creating the conditions for nothing but hate. grateful for those who reached out to me today in love, and who received my love in return.

and lighting candles of fierce love for all of my friends and family who participate in major religions that espouse homophobic beliefs. however you call god, the weight of hate crimes against QUILTBAG people is partially yours, the struggle falls on your frontline. i extend my warrior energy behind you as you fight the ignorance and hate mongering within your sacred houses.

lighting candles under the asses of anyone who still can’t grasp the need for deconstructing the gun/violence-worshipping culture of this nation. you sound unworthy of the miracle of life you have been given.

lighting a candle at the intersections, that we may all see that we are not separate, we cannot separate. last night i gave a speech on abortion at an undisclosed location, kept hidden for security reasons that root into the same violence that was wrought in orlando. i am abstaining from sugar in solidarity with jasmine abdullah richards, who is behind bars for standing up against the violent policing of this country which disproportionately devastates the same communities that were targeted in orlando. i am grieving comrades who have been killed in the line of their work to push back against hate. all of this is connected, us – black, queer, trans, differently abled, immigrant, woman, arab, indigenous, asian, fat, nonbinary, nonmainstream in any way – wanting to live and love as we are – and those we are up against seemingly dissatisfied with disagreeing and leaving us alone. they must take everything, have everything, and kill what they cannot understand. we must hold tight to each other and grow, become indivisible.

lighting a candle for myself, that in this moment of rage and grief i can stay in touch with the truth and beauty of my precious, sacred and very queer life. i choose to live my life guided and motivated by love rather than hate. i know i am free. i know love is what sets and keeps me free.

i found this helpful – some practical tips from suzy steffan via my sci fi sister lisa bolekaja:

A few things straight cis or trans and non-straight cis people could do today and every day to support LGBTQIA people:

1. Listen to queer people.

2. Listen to queer people of color. This hate crime happened in diverse Orlando at Latinx night at the Pulse. That very much matters.

3. Text us, snapchat us, tweet us that you love us (do not include “no matter whom you love”) and you’re thinking about us today.

4. Don’t deny that this was a hate crime.

5. Don’t make this about Islam. It’s not. It’s about transphobia and homophobia. Oh, and access to AR-15s.

6. Ask local LGBTQIA groups how you can help.

7. Don’t accept one nanosecond, not ONE, of victim blaming from friends, relatives, or religious representatives.

8. If you go to church and your pastor doesn’t mention Orlando or does it in a hateful way, speak up right then or walk out at that moment, and find a new church. Same for any religious organization. You can help your religious organizations be better.

9. Donate blood *AND* tell the FDA to lift the ban on “men who have had sex with men” donating blood RIGHT NOW, as in RIGHT. NOW.

10. Trans and L/G/B cis people of color get killed at disgustingly high rates. You, yes, you, straight/cis people, *have to* speak out against HB 2 and all the other transphobic “bathroom bills” out there.

11. If you have money, you could send it to Orlando (if you don’t live there), or you could help fund your local QUILTBAG organizations. Some links in the comments.

12. If you don’t have money, which I *certainly* understand right now, get books by authors who identify as LGBTQIA out of the library, and recommend them to others.

13. You might, as I have this ugly awful morning, try to get your local politicians to support a vigil for the LGBTQIA communities.

13a. But when that vigil happens, listen to the community to see if we need you there. We might need you as a buffer zone. We’ll be holding each other and crying and singing. You be our security.

13b. Be sure to ask those politicians to get the buy-in of local grassroots and “official” queer/trans rights groups. It’s important for cities and states and the country to support us, but not without our organizations as well.

14. Read up on LGBTQIA herstory and history. (Some suggex in the comments, eventually.)

15. Post about Orlando. You don’t have to share the news stories, you don’t have to share the details, but show us that you see us and that you care about us. We see you when you don’t.

16. If you have QUILTBAG employees – and you do if you have employees! – check in with them today and in the next few days. Have their backs. Be prepared to help them out, to fill in (without asking them to give up paychecks).

17. If you have QUILTBAG students – and you do if you teach! – give them extra love and space to process. Not by singling them out, of course, but by publicly mentioning your horror at the hate crime and privately letting them know that they can take more time as they process.

national network of abortion funds 2016 keynote

tonight i had the honor of giving the keynote speech for the national network of abortion funds 2016 summit. i spoke after they gave each other awards and there were lots of tears and just so much recognition and celebration of their incredible and radical work. here are my notes from my talk, what i planned to say and what i think i added in. <3

I would like to open with centering words from octavia estelle butler, the black science fiction writer and, I would argue, prophet-philosopher.

first, let’s take a moment to center, come into this moment:
let yourself be heavy with gravity
and light with stardust
and look around your table, connect with the people around you
and connect to this moment

now, octavia says:
all that you touch you change
all that you change changes you
the only lasting truth is change
god is change

i always evoke her into these spaces because she taught me to be visionary.

wow. so here we are in texas, this massive great state that gave us beyoncé.

now, i was also born in texas, not to imply that all first-born singing virgos from texas are at the same level, or that you should expect a beyoncé level performance from my speech tonight. i only aim for perfection.

but seriously – i heard that there are only 6 abortion clinics left in this state. as we sit here knowing how hard we are working to make moves forward, as we make our Best effort to create changes within and beyond the system, as we raise the money to create our own systems of care, we are still only meeting about 1/3 of the need.

and we are traversing an election season that for some of us is ‘so historic’, for some of us is ‘so depressing and/or terrifying’, for some of us is ‘totally irrelevant in terms of tangible impacts in our communities’, and for some of us all of the above.

this fight of ours is both a local fight, and a supreme court fight. it is a fight that can sometimes feel rigid – as if all the territory has been mapped out already. as if every victory is fragile, and every position must be defensive.

and yet we must win, right? we must not only end hyde, but go beyond, beyond smashing our opponent (which can absolutely satisfying, i know). we need to evolve the conversation beyond the realm of opposition – we must create such a change around abortion that no one can deny it.

everyone in this room is part of an effort to create change. and yet sometimes we forget how change actually works. we think of change as an external impact – we will do something, and the other person will change. and we will stay the same, and we will be happy.

we do this at a personal level – how many of us have fallen in love with someone’s potential? with our story of how we were going to liberate another person’s best self?

or educate a family member?

we do this at a collective or organizational level. how many of us have gone to work at institutions that were deeply unsustainable, or patriarchal, or had severe conflict aversion or other really big clear red flags that we imagined we could transform on the strength of our own (naive) brilliance?

(i won’t ask if anyone here is still in that situation. we are all feeling the love – and i know it’s complicated.)

and of course we do this at a political level. we can see so clearly how the other, our opposition, needs to change. and we set forth to change them. we rage against them on facebook and twitter, go head to head in policy wars, or give them the evil eye at holidays. (cuz you know all this political opposition is in the family, right?)

and of course they are doing the same thing.

our lovers are imagining that we will begin to put the toilet paper roll on correctly, and stop interrupting them with important details when they tell a story to our mutual friends.

our organizations hope that with time we will get so passionate about the mission that we will overlook the regressive structural issues and work the extra unpaid hours to close the gap between the needs of our communities and never-quite-enough resources we can generate to meet those needs.

and politically, our opponents hope, and probably pray, that one day we will cave. that we will say fine. you all should make the decisions about what we can do with our bodies. you win – what were we thinking?

now, within this battle of wills, no one actually wins.

we all get amazing at fortifying our positions, at polarizing the entire world in a binary system that has no room for complexity, for changing positions, for life experience. we create hierarchies of ourselves and others.

octavia teaches us that we use our intelligence to construct hierarchy, over and over. and then we revel in it. i am guilty of this. i feel superior in every way to any man who seeks to legislate my body.

i can’t help it!

it is so easy to see the change that is needed in others, or needed in large scale systems. it is so much harder to create those changes within ourselves, to live up to our values, to live into the unknown, the theoretical – what we FEEL is right, even what we have proven is right at a small scale.

it is particularly frightening to see socialization rooted inside ourselves, and to pull it up. and yet that is what we have to keep doing, and what we need to inspire the rest of this country to do.

most of you are in this room because you have done this work to unlearn the shame and stigma so many of us still get taught to associate with abortion, and to step to the front line to make sure that anyone who needs an abortion can get one.

your work here, all of you, has been so crucial in this respect – you are putting your time, life and resources on the line to help us change how we access abortion care from the local to the national level. you are supporting low-income women, women of color, young women.

i commend you all. i am grateful beyond words. (part of why i wrote this down was because of how emotional i was just preparing for this)

i am grateful as a full spectrum doula.
i am grateful as a survivor of ectopic pregnancy.
i am grateful as an auntie to babies who will have more choices because of your work.
i am grateful as an ever evolving pan-queer-sexual human (who knows what the future holds?)

i thank you.

so now i want to explore what the next edge of growth is for us. what will be healing to everyone we touch?

all that you touch you change. but it also changes you. change is a multidirectional activity.

one of my biggest areas of question to offer tonight is – how do we expand our network of change? i mean, not just who we will change, but who we will let change us, in order to reach far enough to change everything.

to even consider letting others change us, we have to have a solid sense of self. a movement sense of self. we can create change around abortion, we are growing reproductive justice. we are creating a new world here. that you all have raised the money you have raised in spite of the cyber and ideological attacks, the vitriol and socialization of this country is a tangible measurement of that change.

but as we succeed, our opposition changes.
as we get bigger, they get frightened of losing power, and become more dangerous.
as they become more dangerous, their strategies and policies become more outrageous.
and then we become more fearful.
and we can get very narrow, trying to just protect ourselves, to hold the line for the tiny sliver of dignity and liberation and basic rights we cannot live without. our vision, tucked tightly in a safe place.

but often what we think we are protecting is already gone. vision is the collateral damage of a reactionary movement. the ‘vision’ begins sounding like “not this! repeal that! stop that! can we just get a little of this? a tiny bit of justice?” (i speak from experience)

remember the personal relationship scenario? you ever find yourself in a fight like – “wait how did we get here? i don’t even care about the toilet paper – i started this conversation because i want our home to feel like a retreat center of love and equity! you got stuck on bathroom habits, and what the heck? are we breaking up right now?”

it can be funny – even if its not funny at the moment we can usually laugh in retrospect, depending on how the breakup goes.

but this happens in our political work all the time. its less funny there.

this has absolutely happened with our work for reproductive justice, we keep finding ourselves in external and internal debates over differences that distract us from our vision – which is that every person has agency over her, his or their own body. it isn’t about one choice – its about a multitude of choices all rooted in love and equity.

humans tend to change in a cycle.

people say history repeats itself, and in some ways it does. but each time, the group of humans is different, the world is different, and even if it looks the same from the outside, within each cycle are evolutions, micro shifts that create different outcomes.

this slow but determined cycle of change is why so many of our movements are evolving beyond silo’d issue struggles and embracing intersectional identities.

it is how this movement is coming to understand that any discussion about abortion is a discussion about race, about poverty, about borders, about prisons, about control, about collective liberation.

that took so much work. your work and so many others. it is imperative to celebrate that work.

in order to realize our vision for a world in which we have safety and agency for all humans in all bodies, we have to understand this iterative cycle of change, and aim not just for surface shifts that advance or regress from administration to administration.

we have to get very intentional about how we “transform ourselves in order to transform the world”. those are the words of grace lee boggs, my late mentor. we have to create an ideological majority and stability around abortion access and reproductive justice, one that can normalize inside an ever changing world.

i know we can do this.

grace also said “we must assume our power, not our powerlessness”.

octavia called this shaping change. understanding that change is inevitable and constant, but if we are awake we are not simply victims of change, or reacting to change. we can be a force that shapes change.

we can shape change around abortions and reproductive justice.

it is time to get visionary about abortion.

(visionary. what do i mean? not idealistic. not never never land. (vision is kind of my fetish – one of my fetishes))

last year a book that i co-edited with walidah imarisha came out, it’s called Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction from Social Justice Movements. we asked organizers to write science fiction, because we realized that our work as social justice visionaries and organizers is to bring about a world we have never seen. a world without poverty, without patriarchy. a world where every human has the right to make their own difficult choices for their health and lives, towards abundance, towards liberation.

we haven’t experienced this world yet – we are cocreating it. so organizing is reaching forward and pulling the future into our present. all organizing is science fiction. (we are all badass super heroes!)

and what we found in our organizers was that many went above and beyond our call. we don’t lack vision, we lack permission.

we called it sci fi to reach the place people are familiar with, but it is more precisely called visionary fiction. walidah created that term to speak of art we create with intention.

art is never neutral – it either upholds or upends the status quo. so Octavia’s Brood gathered stories of the future that show change as a process, as a bottom up, collective process, centering marginalized communities. neither utopian nor dystopian, because as we know those actually tend to go hand in hand. the 1% depends on the 99%. first class has to be in front of coach. even heaven requires hell.

we invited stories that took us beyond binaries, that took us to the edge of what these organizers could see.

because gloria anzaldua taught us: “nothing happens in the ‘real’ world unless it first happens in the images in our heads.”

this is our work. we must dream the impossible, dream it together, out loud, until it becomes practice and pathway. we must collaborate on our ideas, subverting the capitalist practice of competing like gladiators to have the best idea. we must build collective vision, deep intentions that allow radical adaptations in the unknown future.

(now, i say this next part as someone with deep southern evangelical anti-abortion family members)

a lot of the people who are counted in our opposition have been negatively impacted by the execution of their own espoused values – unable to get the abortions they needed; born to people who did not want to, or were not ready to, parent but felt they had no choice; people shamed for their pregnancies; then shamed for their abortions.

our imagination needs to include these women, our story needs to be big enough to invite them in.

i have been talking about imagination a lot lately. who gets the right to imagine? who gets to realize their imaginations in the real world? we are, in fact, in an imagination battle. i borrow this line of thinking from claudine rankine and terry marshall – right now we are living inside the imagination of other people. people who think women and black people and people from other countries and people with different abilities or desires are dangerous and inferior. can be shot down in the street. mike brown, renisha mcbride and so many others lost their lives to that imagination. we can be regulated around the choice to bring life into this world, we can be controlled through the violence people take based on their waking dreams.

those imaginings have created the conditions of oppression that bring us into this room. the results of this delirium are that women, especially women of color and poor women, are not to be trusted with our bodies. it’s not sane, but it has been institutionalized. and as we grow our resources and our ranks, it is imperative that we burst out of the box that the conservative imagination designates for us. this means moving out of a defensive stance.

i am creating work at a particular intersection. octavia is there, grace is there, and gloria. and a few other ancestors who bear naming.

toni cade bambara charged us with “making the revolution irresistible”. i think of this often when i find myself turning to fear or shame as a motivating force for my people (i never mean to do this but it comes out under pressure, fear and shame are contagious).

how do i make a future of justice an irresistible option? how do we paint in the loudest colors a picture of a world in which families are intentional, joyful, resourced with love and longing. that’s what’s on the other side of abortion access.

audre lorde is also at this intersection – she taught us of pleasure – that it is the experience of the erotic, of being fully sensationally alive in real time, that makes suffering unbearable. she said, when i am “in touch with the erotic, i become less willing to accept powerlessness, or those other supplied states of being which are not native to me, such as resignation, despair, self-effacement, depression, self-denial.”

so i have been reflecting on how the fear of an unwanted pregnancy seriously impacts pleasure and power. in part because of the process of abortion. but, i think, in much larger part because of the narratives around abortion, the trauma of stigmatization, and the lack of emotional support for those who make this choice.

in terms our opposition might understand, they “deny themselves heaven” in this regard, because i suspect a next level of sexual freedom and erotic evolution is also on the other side of abortion access and human-centered reproductive justice.

the final piece i want to add here brings us back to where i started. one of the ways we change ourselves is to change our stories, yes – and my invitation is to bring creativity, joy, love, longing and pleasure into the next stories told about abortion.

but the other way we change ourselves is to put down our armor, or at least move the shield to the side so we can see who we are fighting with. this is ESPECIALLY important for our internal differences. how much of our time and energy do we spend trying to change each other, instead of working to align with each other?

this is a lesson from nature, which i have been studying in a deep way for my next book, which is on emergent strategies, focusing on the way complex systems and patterns emerge out of relatively simple interactions.

in nature the big creatures, those who are the same species but battle each other for territory – the lions, tigers, bears (oh my) – they are on the extinction lists. the creatures which work together with clear distinctions and roles and a shared sense of survival, those are the ones that are proliferating. ants, birds, roaches. octopi and squid. slime mold. these organisms move at the speed of relationship.

the black lives matter movement has been articulating this practice as moving at the speed of trust – that’s as fast as we can go. and our impact can be as big and powerful as our trust is.

our internal movement armor comes in the form of political positions and think pieces and call-outs. we must practice putting down our armor with each other, spend more time getting into a room together and not just drinking (which i enjoy but am abstaining from sugar so…) but working on our alignment. if we are already clear on where the differences are, how do we turn our collective attention to those places where we align and grow that?

what we pay attention to grows. so let’s practice with an affirmation pledge. turn to the person next to you and really take in this divine specimen of warrior. now repeat after me:

i am not you
oh but I need you
thank you for your work
let’s get this. let’s get free
.

thank you so much for paying attention to me these last twenty minutes.

thank you so much for paying attention to our rights and our bodies as your life’s work.

thank you yamani, tiffany and everyone at the national network of abortion funds for having me.

(after this was an incredible karaoke night that was, as yamani sang in her first ever karaoke performance, ‘more than words’)

90 days

jasmine abdullah richards was sentenced today to 90 days in jail.

for lynching.

she is the first black person ever convicted of felony lynching. it is an outrageous charge. i keep seeking other words for this convergence of feelings, but only outrage comes close to accuracy.

this is a moment every black person, particularly those participating in visionary organizing and protest to assert that our lives matter, need to internalize. this is our 90 days.

it is more than an individual punishment, it is a test of our interconnectedness, our alertness, our attention.

we must practice sustaining this story and our connection to jasmine beyond the life span of a meme or trend.

tonight i rocked the babies to sleep and somewhere in there i too drifted – it was a long day and i was not really awake or asleep, suspended between tired and responsible, listening and dreaming.

it is so much we are expected to hold, it is easy to drift away from what we most care about, most long for.

today there was an unaccountable young rapist in my face, electoral extremes as part of my social media feed celebrated a woman presidential nominee and part complained of shady election mishaps. i wore purple all day for Prince’s first birthday as an ancestor. there’s so much all at once. so we drift.

but jasmine is one of our freedom fighters. her captivity is tied to our liberation.

when the news came this afternoon i felt relief that it wasn’t four years, and anger that it was even one day.

the nibblings, who were my reaponsibility today, noticed my emotions and asked me what i could do. and i thought about it.

of course continue my work, we always continue to fight our local-global fight in so many ways. but i kept coming back to the words jasmine shouted in the courtroom, echoing assata across time: it is also our work now to “love each other and protect each other”. what can i do to love and protect jasmine?

i mapped out 90 days on the calendar. it ends on my birthday in september. it’s three months. this amount of time has already flown by twice this year. for jasmine’s sake I hope it flies by now.

what leapt to mind was a spiritual commitment to keep my attention on her every day until she is free. to not let her fall away from my heart as the changes keep coming. to think of her, to feel these 90 days with her.

so i reached out to some friends – i have been in a practice of shifting my relationship to sugar with a group of other social justice beloveds. five of us (so far) have committed to being in collective practice over the next 90 days, in jasmine’s name. we will practice with our bodies (mostly abstaining from added sugars, one person is cutting out caffeine, one is also doing a 12 sun salutation yoga practice, another is doing a practice of free dance) to stay mindful of jasmine’s revolutionary work during this time, and to ensure that we feel these next 90 days.

i am sharing this here as an invitation. how will you #standwithjasmine?

update:

– lena gardner offered the tag #solidaritywithjasmine

– we’re up to 91 people now!

– Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism joined!

– Malcolm X Grassroots Movement joined!

– there’s a facebook group for those who want to join, just let me know if you want the invite! <3

edges

image

this country pushes
my human heart
to its edges

earth’s ancient borders
let the land breath
humans mimic
making only ugly edges

the majority is dishonest
in this way justice is elusive
fighting in the street
we leave tumbleweed
we come apart and sacrifice
for those displaced from the core
to the edges

we whisper at the necks
of our lovers
black girl stories
the sharp edges of truth
leaving carved flesh
trust notes

the sun leaps down
the edges of the world
a mountain goat
a temporary life

all of this is so fleeting
it is a comfort to let it go
to dance breathless and awed
on time’s edges

(for walidah, rasheedah, krista and ola)

#shapingchange #becauseofoctavia

#freejasmine (they want us to be afraid; even fear is fuel)

they convicted jasmine abdullah richards of lynching. on tuesday june 7 she is set to be sentenced.

at this time police officers continue killing, getting occasionally indicted, never locked up, never held accountable. but they convicted jasmine. of lynching.

this makes me feel angry and afraid, makes me think of charity hicks, berta carceres, syrian refugees drowning in the mediterranean, whistleblowers gunned down in flint and so many others they determine to be disposable, collateral, or threatening.

and no, i know, i know it’s never a monolithic they…it is many individuals tied together by the willingness to twist out of accountability, out of relationship with community, to harm anyone and anything to uphold their myth of power.

to contain us they contort their own humanity.

in these tragic moments we must notice we are angry, and afraid. we know we are advancing on the energy of rage, moving through our collective reactions towards a vision of dignity, wholeness, connectedness, liberation.

fear is an intelligent response to terrifying changes. they want this fear, want us to be cowered by this fear – of change, of punishment, of each other, because fear is fertile ground for suspicion, division. and yet we cannot be pulled apart from jasmine, or any of the other black organizers putting their lives on the line for our collective justice.

so we must learn how to hold on to each other, grow and advance our work with our fear beside us.

‘they tried to bury us, they didn’t know we were seeds’ – i love this mexican proverb. overwhelmed by shit, by the torrential rain of frightening news that storms down into the deepest places, we grow. we are seeds regardless of the appearance of borders, of control, of life or death.

many mushrooms are designed to absorb and process toxins for nourishment. i want us to learn how to do that right now, because they convicted jasmine of lynching and we have to process this into a radical fuel to free her and free ourselves. we have to feel everything and let it grow inside of us as urgency, depth, as longing for the justice we want, as our commitment to each other.

everything is fuel to us.

i don’t know jasmine personally, but i feel she is my comrade, and know she is someone i look up to. jasmine is in the work of freedom fighting and everything i hear about how she is standing in her dignity calls forth my courage – in her final moments in the courtroom after being convicted of lynching, jasmine was shouting assata’s words and hearing them back from her community:

“it is our duty to fight for our freedom
it is our duty to win
we must love each other and protect each other
we have nothing to lose but our chains.”

the more effective we are, the more outrageous the responses will be. the more they will seek to terrify us, erase us. we must have a plethora of moves to choose from. we are on one long journey from slavery to freedom, out of the trauma of identity-based hierarchy.

and we will set them free as we free ourselves, because freedom is a function of our interdependence, and what we imprison imprisons us. we must be free.

jasmine must be free. we have to do what we can to hold her close. today that means signing a petition:

I am advocating for Black Lives Matter organizer Jasmine “Abdullah” Richards who was wrongfully convicted of attempted felony “lynching” for a “Peace March” that she organized last year. There were no allegations of violence and no injuries suffered at the march, yet the event was dubbed a “riot” by the prosecutor. Judge Elaine Lu presided over the case and is set to sentence Jasmine “Abdullah” Richards on Tuesday, June 7th. The charge could bring as much as 4 years in state prison.

Please join me and tell Judge Elaine Lu: No Jail Time for Jasmine! http://act.colorofchange.org/sign/freejasmine-no-jail-time-black-lives-matter-activist-accused-lynching/?sp_ref=203214790.176.169279.e.535244.2&referring_akid=.1737426.cS1Ucj&source=em_sp

go towards life

i am not saying to ignore the hard things. but lean towards, move towards, life.

life comes in many shapes and forms. vigorous body movement, being enthralled in the fantastical and shamelessly needy realm of children, truly dancing, falling in love, appreciating the current season, engaging in meaningful difference. a necessary limitation. an unexpected liberation. there is plenty of nothingness and no shortage of soul sucking pasttimes. never forget it is Your miracle and you have the only real possession: agency over your attention.

be intrigued and engaged, relinquish obligation.

be growing, strain the stagnant energy from your life. there is nothing to apologize for, not in a process of liberation.

at the end of all liberatory processes is more life, are more questions. oh be grateful, to be self aware and responsible for cultivating beauty and goodness every day.

be the green bursting from cut wood, finding life in the air.

be the flight after the stun, recovered and wondrous and newly worshipful of home.

be life moving towards life.

breathe out to breathe in.

become the promise you made yourself long ago.

harambe to the child

because i was so beautiful
and so black
and so wild
you wanted to look at me –
there was wonder in your eyes

they were beyond wonder
they wanted to control me
all the time
wanted me, yes
without the danger
the unknown, the power
of me being me

they put me in a cage
if i had raged it would have been just
if i had torn you
limb from limb
i think god may have shrugged

i was not angry at you
i was a lost child too –
any living creature
in captivity
is a lost child
at the whim of whomever
holds the key

they think they are better than us
from that great height everything looks inferior
and, eventually, terrifying

little black boy
here is the secret everyone knows
in ten years
when they look at you
they will only see me
looking back

blue moon in sagittarius

i am not glowing for love
i am being loved, love and lover
at all times

i don’t mimic the sun
don’t fold into me anyone else’s heat
my scar tissue is my own

while you sleep i get older
hurry
i have to fill in all my bones and flesh with delight

orbit is not belonging
i feel currents move from and around me
i belong to all this motion

the in and the out breath
the wave suckling the shore
and pulling away, mouth full

behind the shadows i am calm
reflecting a wild fire,
wreaking a havoc that becomes system and salt

something is so lovely now
i have to tell you about it:
infinite me, inside me

the fecund and shimmering landscape of the magical world
ripe ripe fruit, above and below
everywhere

so i need for nothing
but aliveness – aliveness
to be a bearer of all this light