Monthly Archive for June, 2018

civility and small resistance

I said this on Twitter:

“things to never be civil about: concentration camps, genocide, white supremacy, misogyny, harm to children, mass trauma, state violence, rising fascism.”

things that people wanted to add:

bans on Muslims or other people
attacks on women’s rights over their bodies
partner/domestic violence
state killings of citizens
stolen/corrupted elections
harm to lgbtq youth

conservative responses included:
calling me fat, saying I had a booger in my nose, telling me that none of the things I mentioned are happening, and that not being civil equals screaming and/or hate, and that liberalism is the cause.

that last point might be worth considering.

when people say none of these things are happening, in spite of photos, footage and testimony from the border, it reminds me how important it is to find trustworthy sources of information. I have the New York Times and Washington Post, The Guardian, BBC and Al-Jazeera on my phone. I look for what shows up consistently across those sites. I use them to back up claims that people make on social media. I also trust people to tell their stories, and trust organizers to develop campaigns rooted in transforming real conditions.

the main thing I want to expand on is what civil means. the definition of civil is ordinary, courteous and polite. being civil is how we create a sense of normalcy in the world across different cultures and opinions. when we see injustice happening and we remain civil, we are part of normalizing the harm, and we become complicit in things we would never openly claim to be for.

disrupting is not acting from hate. in my life the bravery to risk disrupting the norm has always been rooted in a deep love of community, of family, of humanity, of this planet. it is being willing to seek the truth, to speak the facts, to question laws that allow or encourage harm.

when those with power are doing inhumane, or anti-planet things, our choice to be disruptive, to be impolite, is one of the ways we wage small resistance that can be become mass resistance and large scale cultural and political transformation. we have learned this from ancestors in our lineages who helped expose and break massive systems like chattel slavery, or holocaust genocide.

small resistance historically has looked like a wrench in the gears, a slowing things down, a rancid ingredient in master’s food, enslaved people teaching each other to read and write, letting a fugitive sleep in your basement, learning how to give each other reproductive care, slipping each other cannabis for medicine.

0E7E3305-A74A-41BA-8526-F178442706B9

small resistance these days looks like turning people who are supporting and promoting racist, transphobic and inhumane policies away from your door. it looks like stopping next to police cars that have pulled people over and watching or filming them until the person stopped is allowed to leave. it looks like naming -isms and -phobias in real time and learning together. it looks like local direct actions at the homes of congresspeople who make decisions that harm humans or the planet.

the forces we are up against are so massive that it can be overwhelming to contemplate getting to freedom, having just governance, feeling something other than shame about the decisions of this country. but each of us has the power every day to disrupt the normalization of violence and othering, to hold out for higher standards of humanity. and sometimes it’s as small as saying no, you shall not sit here and have a normal meal while children scream for their parents as a result of your work.

abolition spell (summer solstice)

on this day of the longest light, i turned to the i ching for some summer solstice wisdom, something to guide me, guide us, through this challenging season.

i cast coins and got ‘the taming power of the small’ hexagram – i have been feeling overwhelmed and terrified and wanting something massive as a response to the current news. all the more strategic people around me point to the small and steady steps we must take together. their words and this hexagram humble me. i forget that small is all.

Screenshot 2018-06-21 20.49.31

i am a baby witch, learning to trust all the data i can see, cast, feel, read. and learning to protect and wield my power, to direct my intentions.

but i am a full grown abolitionist. at this moment, abolition is a crucial, non-negotiable stance for those who want to see a different world.

abolition is the act of abolishing an oppressive system. when slavery was the law of the land, there was an abolitionist movement. slavery became technically illegal, but in practice it morphed into the modern prison system, and is the primary way to understand what is happening with immigrant families at our borders now – they are dehumanized, families separate or together, in cages.

since this nation was brutally established on other people’s land, we have been and continue to be a nation addicted to cages, seemingly unable to imagine what it would be like to actually live with freedom as our guiding principle. and with a system as pervasive as our prison system, funded by wealthy corporate interests (wealthy because we buy what they sell) and/or direct taxpayer dollars, we must understand that we are either abolitionists or complicit jailers (or, if the irs has us by the neck, both).

i signed up with mijente for their call to action, and donated to raices for reuniting families. i am also supporting a member of my own community who was recently separated from her newborn in prison, siwatu-salama ra, and invite you to join me.

the other small thing i can offer is an abolition spell, for siwatu, for the babies at the border, for their families, for all political prisoners, for all nonviolent offenders, for all those who have caused harm and are not being helped to find a different way.

..

6E1443E0-C8BB-4D54-927D-F18C3DD3124E

all that is light
break bars between teeth
grind bricks down to dust
explode a sunscale life force
in each direction
until the cages shed like dead skin

brief steamy night
slip through the cracks like rain
nourish the soil, the parents who cannot hear their children tonight
and in the dreams of the babies
let them be held
so they know to keep growing

sun sun sun
let them grow up strong, one tree,
two trees, forests that break the foundations of slave culture
burst the seams of prison walls
find home beyond the trauma of this night

all that is light
beam into the hearts of parents
who would ever let a child,
any child,
scream in terror where they came for safety
find the crack in the spirit and
fill it with gold

all that is darkness
abolish ICE
abolish slavery
abolish prisons
abolish borders
abolish colonialism
abolish our addiction to punishing everyone who needs healing

solstice come
solstice go
solstice come
solstice go

015D4709-872B-4C04-8011-54999221350C

amc2018 report back (satisfaction, titillation, saturation)

the 20th anniversary of the allied media conference was a magical abundant beautiful gathering.

i proposed three sessions that were accepted, was invited to be part of a fourth session, helped organize a network gathering, hosted the closing ceremony, and was spontaneously invited to speak at the two other sessions i attended. i also partied every night for the first time in years. the result is that my brain, body and spirit were fully engaged and i feel spent and nourished…and somewhat over exposed. next year i am going to work on being more of a listener.

here are some highlights from the weekend:

on thursday we had our first ever ‘facilitation for liberation’ gathering, hosted by aorta, baby azadeh, maryse mitchell-brody, and the emergent strategy ideation institute (which is mostly me for now, with seeds planted for growth). it was a room full of some of the hardest working movement facilitators alive today. we put our attention on connecting, relationships, meaningful conversations and getting clearer on our commitments. there will be a zine produced from the gathering, and we’re dreaming about where we go from here.

on friday i started the day at the plenary on ending sexual and gender based violence and it was incredibly powerful, really landing how crucial telling our true stories is to shifting the culture of rape, harm and incarceration.

that day i got my hair dyed bright pink in my commitment to being a weird mermaid gem all the time.

i caught part two of autumn and maryse’s facilitation training and was invited to be on their panel about facilitation magic with movement elder erika thorn and durham movement mama manju ranjendran. they both broke it down – erika putting us into touch with how tiny we are in the vast arc of time, and how most of that time has not been ruled by patriarchy – that her magic . manju spoke on how her perfect dimpled baby is her cofacilitator and creates magic.

i spoke on how i realized i had facilitation magic after a bidet accident that left me soaking wet, facilitating a closing circle for a group of reproductive justice activists – and they still trusted me! i shared that the primary condition for my magic to work is willingness in the participants. if they are willing, almost anything can happen. and for some reason we had to sing destiny’s child’s hit ‘say my name’.

the friday night opening ceremony highlights included a performative unveiling of hosts una and aya, mad amc babies on video and on stage reflecting the growth of the conference, halima and sage inviting our grief, baby nzinga asleep on halima’s back, rv mendoza’s performance, a brief and powerful conversation between tarana burke and mariame kaba. and the fashions of jenny and nadine.

that night i went to asadullah’s epic annual queer house party, themed ‘we out here’, spun by dj rimarkable. i wore a white crop top and leggings, and felt excellent, receiving the peak compliment that i looked delicious.

on saturday morning, my homey chandra came from phoenix to take my headshot for the spiritual resilience fellowship. she made me feel such ease.

then i rushed to catch the rebel alliance to wakanda session which was held by manju, makani themba, kai green, and terry marshall, with sterling toles and jenna peters-golden creating art.

DE1B94D5-CABD-4F9A-AC41-3A2E12CEDFEF

80C68800-E306-4C86-8F43-9D99ADEBB619

autumn was supposed to be on this panel, but it was at the same time as the healing justice lineages session, and autumn is a major part of that amc history. to my delight i was invited to be her replacement. here are the notes i shared on star wars (most everyone else focused on black panther):

jedi is actually an accessible state of being – its not about lineage but about humbling self to the force and practicing
– ref: anakin, rei, boy with broom

relationships matter, the collective matters, no matter how special you are
– rose and finn (from starstruck to accountability)
– basically all of rogue one…play your position, be part of a collective body learning
– how jedi get taught to stay humble – luke, obi, anakin…rei is the first humble student we see. even with the force you are vulnerable to ego.

relationship/alliance doesn’t require sameness of culture or values, but a shared purpose/commitment to life. the rebel alliance is made up of so many different kinds of cultures and systems, different agendas. but they are all committed to life, which is more than i can say for the US ruling elite. and that commitment to life has to sustain us and guide our choices even if we aren’t together.
– reference: every rebel alliance convergence, yoda’s solitary life, paige’s bomb dropping death

the dark side is in all of us. don’t give up or ignore it – don’t stop fighting it in yourself or others’. learn what it needs to teach us about balance, and fight the behaviors, but believe in the people.
– reference: luke and darth vader, rei and kylo ren.

later on saturday, autumn and i recorded the first ever live episode of our podcast, how to survive the end of the world. our producer, zak, already turned it into a real show! it was so fun to do!

then i dashed to the space where emergent strategy spells was scheduled to happen, but the room was too small, so the amazing conference organizer figured out a solution on the spot and we all flowed back to the room where the podcast had been.

for emergent strategy spells i shared how i was thinking of DNA, which appears, in two dimensions, to flow through a narrow crossing and open out to be inclusive. in the same way, we need our magic internally, at the small scale, at the intersections, and as far out as we can imagine.

the structure of the spells we worked on:

i/we claim the power of (insert something that is a place of weakness or shame for you; example: my big fat arms)

i/we embrace my/our (insert what that place represents; example: my vast massive body)

with this power/gift i/we can (insert things this gift or power offers you; example: hold my nibblings, comfort my friends, rest with my lovers, have strong boundaries)

i/we plant the seed of (insert a radical act or practice you can’t currently do consistently, but wish to do, related to your gift/power; example: loving my body without exceptions) for my/our liberation.

after working on individual spells and sharing them in pairs or trios, participants formed small groups. these groups were each microcosms of movement. they shared their personal spells and crafted a collective spell based on intersecting needs. the primary words in the resulting collective spells were vulnerability, authenticity, love, interdependence, pleasure and liberation.

on saturday night i wore a sequined jumpsuit and twerked on various vehicles.

on sunday i hosted the first pleasure activism workshop. we listened to audre lorde’s ‘uses of the erotic’ – it was incredible to hear her voice fill up an auditorium. we generated questions on the text, the ideas, in small groups. each group then passed one of their questions to a nearby group and received a question from another. each group took their new question and created a workshop activity to explore the question. these activities will become a digital zine to go with the release of the pleasure activism book this fall. i then shared some ideas from the book – i know i’m excited by these ideas because i got lost in them and ran out of time.

i then got to be in conversation with mariame kaba on abolition and education. she taught us so much – words from danielle sered that ‘when someone causes harm, that is never the first violence they have experienced.’ mariame taught us that for her, transformative justice is how you want someone to treat you when you lose your shit. she was just brilliant, and the questions were big ones.

from there i got to watch the closing plenary from backstage, titillated by the speakers’ work on large screen, una and michi, ricardo, francesca – all people i have respected for a while.

the closing ceremony was a bit of a dream. i am grateful that i have been able to be part of the experiment of the amc, part of the history and the present.

i felt bittersweet at the closing, because as thrilling as it was to do all the things, i also know i must find a way to take up less space in that incredible home. it’s changed so much, for everyone, for me. i feel part of that, a distraction in that, grown up by that, moved by that.

and i am excited to be behind the scenes more in coming years.

i ended the conference tipsy at the cass cafe with djs nandi, meow and just beige. my name-twin nibbling adrian was my dance partner and was so fun to teach and learn from. got to have some great conversations. i was not planning to dance. i danced for hours. i wore my new birkenstocks and they were surprisingly good for dancing. it took a full day of elevated knees to get back to my normal grade arthritis pain, and it was worth it.

the conference gives me hope that we will find and uplift solutions to our impossible problems. i am wide open to the grief this moment requires, the letting go of any lingering nationalist supremacy. and i believe the magic and practicality we practiced at the conference will help us in ways we can’t currently imagine.

allied media conference 2018 closing ceremony spell

we made it y’all! 20 years of transformation and love and learning by living into it all together, experimenting for liberation.

we are the seeds of future freedoms, future value systems, future mythologies. this weekend we have been wild dandelion seeds filling the air, searching again for places to root, land and become multitudes. we do not long to be cut flowers, beautiful and temporary. we long to be rooted plants that move with the cycle of life.

we have found paths here, in workshops, in this auditorium, in healing circles and spaces, in kid spaces, self-organized spaces, and all over the dance floor.

at 20 years we can feel ourselves pressing at the seams of this container, on the edge of our next growth spurt. it is time to plant the seeds of our next twenty years.

and, inspired by our musical guest video 7, what if we knew we couldn’t be held down? what if we planted that way – as if we are inevitable? how do we cast spells together that way?

let’s learn, let’s practice. let’s cast a spell for the next twenty years, from now through 2038.

how old are you?
what is the world like?
what is this community centered around?
what climate shifts have happened – are we at war? at peace?
is the amc still in detroit?
is detroit still detroit?

what we will see in 20 years is what we shape. right now let’s shape the future, repeat after me.

we claim the power
of our outrageous grief
our righteous anger
our responsibility for our precious lives
our interconnected individual and collective joy
and our impossible magic

we embrace our edges
that they may teach us to grow
in right relationship to the living world
our human messiness
our weird and brilliant wonders
we know how to be
in so many incredible ways

with these gifts we can
foment a revolutionary now
that centers love, care, needs
creativity and magic

we plant the seeds of radical honesty
vulnerability, authenticity
and the kindness that eases inevitable change

we will not settle!
we will grow weirder and wilder
more interdependent
for our liberation
for our liberation
for our liberation!

.

closing invitation:

lila cabbil invites all of us as media makers to help us share the story of our water crisis in Detroit and Flint. help us through the blackout. visit affordablewaternow.org

.

going away present! robin at flaming idols made us candles! our candle blessing:

we are each other’s seeds
we are each other’s soil
we are each other’s rain
we are each other’s light

the 20th annual allied media conference is complete!

a weirder, more interesting life

in the face of pressure to conform, i tend to get weirder. it feels, sometimes, like my/our evolutionary imperative. if something is considered normal, it has already been achieved. in a video game it is rarely satisfying to play the unlocked levels over and over – i want to keep finding the hidden treasures and the next mystery. in life it does not appeal to me to spend all my time in the realm of unlocked levels.

today is the beginning of the 20th annual allied media conference and this instinct in me to get weirder under pressure is part of what led me to this beautiful place. we are in a lineage of people who created more possibility by pushing outside of the norms of their time.

antiblackness, antisemitism, slavery, burning witches, stealing yourself a wife, wife as domestic servant, sex purely for procreation, necessary guns – some very stupid untrue things get normalized as humans work to consolidate power.

i am in the lineage of people who said: i am equal, i am human, i am in love with blackness, i am queer, i am free, i am fucking, i am going to resolve my issues through communication, i am magic. i am fat and wearing a crop top and i look like ice cream from a musical truck on a hot day. i am hairy. i made my head hair into a shaved up pompadour and dyed it Prince-purple. i respect myself as i am. i am smart and not hiding it. i am multitudes and have many love experiments to attend to with this life and body.

and so on.

in this political moment when we have a crisis on every burner, we are letting the rotten ways burn themselves out, creating new recipes, finding new sources of nourishment.

in the onslaught of hate, we root our work in critical connections that require only our continued willingness to grow and to love.

in the face of regressive political forces, we are asserting the radical personal and collective lines on which we will not be turned. and many of us are getting weirder as we recognize we don’t want to belong to a norm world that can’t see or hold us. we want to join a greater vaster stranger world, and create pathways for future generations to follow and surpass.

it looks like a sea of sweet mermaids, unicorns, centaurs, aliens and rebels flowing towards each other. it is multiracial and the center is ever shifting based on who needs the love and care in the moment. it has been shaped by our wildest longings and it will be shaped by more minds and bodies and risks and love stories than i can even imagine.

the weird is so much more interesting than the rote, the same same, the right, the already done. the weird choose freedom. the weird show us the way to get free.

i am about to hug thousands of weirdos and it is better than any corporate holiday. let the AMC2018 (the 20th anniversary!!), begin!