Monthly Archive for May, 2010

this madness, this moment

“There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid.” – Hopi 11th Hour Prophecy

what will the river look like?

will it look like israel launching a military attack on an unarmed humanitarian aid flotilla in international waters? that is what is happening as i write this.

will it look like BP pouring an immeasurable amount of oil directly into the ocean, destroying the Gulf of Mexico and impacting the coastline, the islands, the living breathing ocean? that has been the center of my heartbreak this may 2010.

will it look like volcanoes erupting, ash clouds filling the sky and grounding air travel?

will it look like gays being allowed to serve in a military, allowed to violently force ‘democracy’ on nations who have resources we want/need? we must be so careful with the victories we celebrate…

will it look like 75,000 marching in arizona against racist policies that dehumanize new immigrants based on the fear/hatred of descendants of older immigrants?

will it look like communities shooting each other over side eye looks, and police shooting children while reality tv films it all?

“They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly.” – Hopi 11th Hour Prophecy

even with my whole head, heart, body, fiber of being – everything i have – engaged in behaviors of solution, or a new world, or transformation…i cannot ignore the madness of this moment.

to me it feels that all sense of control, of the world being a logical and/or safe place for anyone, is shaking, cracking, crumbling, dissipating, disappearing. whether it’s man-made/natural disasters, or urban/international/domestic terrorism by authority figures, the mask is falling off of this world and you have to be preparing for a new way of living and being.

i feel the tension of those who are holding onto the shore – believing some authority figure will save us if we can just get a better policy (no incendiary devices, shoot in the arm or leg, only drill in this place and/or in this way, allow part of my humanity but not all of it) without shifting the deep, structural belief systems that uphold our destruction of the planet and the majority of the people on it.

i feel the liberation as more and more people become truth tellers and freedom fighters. we march to shut down gas stations, we march on arizona, we march on israeli consulates, we flotilla our supplies in as humanitarian aid, we write, we make music to tell the story to our people in more ways. we converge, in larger and larger bodies, to dream and fight a new world into existence.

“Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water.” Hopi 11th Hour Prophecy

i believe this, completely. i understand that letting go must come with grief, and so i have a feeling now of trying to swim and weep. but i dabble with a different sensation as well – perhaps the feeling at the heart of the biblical tale of lot’s wife, who was offered freedom and continuing life if she could just not look back as her world was destroyed – but she did look back, and she did turn into a pillar of salt. trying to look at this world and understand it emotionally does make me feel granular and easily blown away.

tonight my meditation is that pushing off the shore involves accepting and knowing the reality of what is happening, screaming that the truth cannot be covered up and cannot be survived. tonight is full of war on many fronts, moving in many directions. tonight, and this moment in history, is full of blood and pain and massive acts of self-hatred as a species/planet/people. tonight is full of movements, of acts of bravery, of sacrifice.

i am in the water, i am aware of the currents moving so fast – i feel all of that, every day, as i try to keep my head above water.

forgiveness is the freedom to pull the trigger. let go or run away.

well known secret to all my friends – i watch tv on hulu while i work. the more high speed chases the faster and more productive my work. the more mysterious, the more creative my movement pontifications. so this was a hard week for me, as both lost and 24 culminated in series finales.

i’m not feeling it – the repetitive, never ending background noise of these shows has been a part of my life for years. i don’t really care if they were bad or good shows, they delivered what i needed and i stayed committed to not overthinking them.

that said, here are my thoughts on the conclusions, in the order i watched them…

lost:

life is a dream, a collective dream. alive, dead, who knows what we are, or where in time?

our belief in this world makes this world possible – our belief in another world makes it equally possible.

some things seem to hold true through all our imaginings: light is within us and within the world. it is only by realizing we can’t escape it (in fact we have to protect it, on faith) (and in fact our whole purpose is to be here with each other), and must accept the love that comes to us in whatever forms it comes, that we can truly be free.

whatever it means to pass over for you, there is a possibility to cross into the paradise of the real, a new collective dream beyond our imagining.

the look on each person’s face – the laughing tears – the release on jack’s face as he gave in and let go?…was perfect.

now…my take on the series finale of 24?

24 was such a more fantastical series than LOST ever was. the fantasies of a) good governmental intentions, b) uncompromising integrity and c) escalating means towards some patriotic ends that justify horrific behavior – it was all wrapped up in such a rush of a package. as an adrenaline junkie i was totally caught up in the multiple screens of action, all the while standing outside myself (like most activist-organizer folks i know who indulge in this particular kind of pop-porn) asking, “self, what is wrong with you?”

the pace was predictable, the storylines repetitive – good guy is the bad guy, now is good guy again, someone’s family member is collateral, and anyone jack loves is gonna die. and jack always knows before anyone else. and yet – beep beep beep. i simply must iterate that i wish we could be satisfied with leaving this stuff as fiction.

goodbye to my two jacks and your casts of characters in your fantastical worlds. i’ll miss you both, and try to fight the good fight without you.

i’m lucky

i just came out three non-stop days of meetings. and it was the smoothest meeting so far in the us social forum process. we’re over some hump and snowballing into summer success. i think. and we will make some major mistakes – absolutely for sure. but we will make them with style and grace and growth.

i’ve been swimming daily.

i’m in love. and it’s work, and it’s getting better all the time.

ruckus is the shit. in a very humbling way, i just have to feel significantly better when ruckus is in the room because our network is just skilled in very tangible things. sharon, my coworker and a future co-director of ruckus, showed up in detroit and jumped into actions and she is so fresh y’all. it’s a blessing to feel this good about my work.

the city i live in has hard, heartbreaking work to pour myself into. and i don’t know how to walk around with my heart broken…i only know how to love at this point. i’ll give that love to the D – and i hope to be well-used.

“The pitcher yearns for water to carry/The person for work that is real.” Marge Piercy , “To Be of Use.”

and – there’s a show on hulu called Glee. i put it on when i am taking things too seriously and it reminds me i am just a show choir nerd dressed up like a revolutionary.

love you ALL and hope you do something bold and then let it go this week.

Giving Clear Directions

I can’t remember where I learned this exercise that helps people develop their listening and direction-giving skills, but I can’t find it online and think folks should use it so here goes:

Identify 1 person who is the survivor.

Identify one person who is the director.

Everyone else is the team.

The survivor comes up with a list of 5-10 things they personally need to survive on the moon. It can be things related to actual survival, or anything they want. {Sample list: Octavia Butler’s entire collection, unlimited Skittles & M&Ms, a solar-powered vibrator, oxygen supply, my boo}

Survivor and Director step outside the room, and Survivor tells Director the list. This is the first round of giving clear direction and taking direction well, focused on the 1-on-1 setting. The Director can/should ask clarifying questions to make sure s/he grasps what Survivor needs.

Now, Director goes in the room and tells the team what the list is. They have 1 minute to get the list and make sure they understand the list before the Director leaves. This is stage 2 of giving instructions and listening, from 1-to-Group. The director is practicing giving clear instructions, while the group practices listening and asking the right clarifying questions.

As the final step, the survivor comes in the room and the director goes out. Now, the team has to give the survivor everything s/he needs to survive on the moon!

Then director comes back in the room and the group debriefs how it did!

This is like a telephone game with more parts. Detroit Summer used it today as part of their orientation process and said it worked great :)

Speaking of which – Detroit Summer needs support for their summer program! Donate today!!

you don’t know how until you do

i am learning a lot these past few days.

one major lesson is that you don’t know how to do something until you do it. even then, you might not know how you did it – just have to have faith in yourself that its been done and it can be done again.

tonight my friend/coworker sharon and friend/board member heather ran outta gas. i don’t know what to do about that. but i emptied a big water bottle, filled it with gas, made a funnel with an old paper and got them going again. now i know how to handle running out of gas!

this made me think of other stuff i have been learning – stuff i didn’t know last week and now i know.

i didn’t know how to express the convergence of hopelessness and emotion elicited by the death of aiyana jones until i let something pour out of me unedited. and shared it. and felt the response of thousands of people who felt the same way, which is what i needed, the only thing that could give me some hope – that a LOT of people want to make the circumstances surrounding aiyana’s death impossible. that’s a start.

and i didn’t know how to facilitate a massive movement process when i took on the role as a coordinator of the us social forum. i still don’t, but i am learning it has something to do with asking folks to be their best selves, over and over. and believing that they will step up. and it has something to do with trusting decentralization, trusting science – if we get the body in motion, it will stay in motion. the ussf body is definitely in motion at this point, with so many hands holding it, so many brilliant minds piecing it together. and as we go i am learning so much about facilitation of processes…it’s not about one conversation. it’s about many conversations, about knowing how many people can have a particular conversation well, how to give people something tangible to converse about, and constantly tying the conversations back to actions, behaviors, protocols. we are not philosophers or professors in this room – we’re volunteers doing political logistics work. everything we debate about, we’re going to have to actualize, while thousands of people watch. no pressure.

i don’t know how things will work if i don’t control every aspect of them – i’m a first born virgo! but i have to learn. today was a first for me as a facilitator. i set folks up in small group conversations and LEFT THE PREMISES for a swim. it was an amazing swim – perhaps one of the best of my life. cool, freeing, just breathe in, breathe out, kick, stroke, kick, stroke. and i came back and everyone had had conversations and we just kept going. and it was fine – better than it would have been if i had been there actually. now i know.

i didn’t know how to be an auntie before – the specifics of it, like how to love unconditionally, love that grows exponentially when given, from a distance, in a memorable way. but i am a really great auntie, and soon i will be an auntie to two – which is hard to even believe, and i know that when the time comes i will know how.

what are you learning?

by any means necessary…

“We declare our right on this earth to be a man, to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary.”

— Malcolm X, 1965

today I am reflecting on the meaning of ‘by any means necessary.’

its Malcolm’s birthday today, and I think of his voice saying those words. at the time he said it, I believe he meant it as it is commonly understood – that we [black people] must be prepared to take up arms if that is necessary to defend our communities and liberate ourselves from the weight of white supremacy.

for me the meaning has evolved as I experience more and more of this world and its layers of oppression. there are a plethora of internal and external dangers to the soul – it is so hard to keep your integrity intact, especially if you long for change, if the current world disappoints you or makes you furious.

I feel like it has become easy for us to occupy our rage without moving into action. and it has become easy for us to get angry and self-righteous without really asking what is needed in that moment.

what if what’s needed isn’t sexy, intimidating, violent…what if what is needed is forgiveness? the kind of forgiveness that seems unimaginable, miraculous, holy, unattainable. like forgiving those who hurt you, hate you, building relationship with those who kill your children?

what if what is necessary is trusting people beyond their mistakes and shortcomings, trusting their best intentions – are we strong enough to default to trust at a community level?

what if what is necessary is learning to see family where you have seen enemies? what if what is necessary is not strategy, not plans, not dollars – just unconditional love?

are we able to be that militant? i want to be militant enough to admit i am changing and growing and don’t know the answers.

my sister is about to have her second child, which has me contemplating and researching birth and labor again. after aiyana’s death I was thinking of how quickly you can violently kill someone, versus how long it takes to create and birth someone. i find a small but awe-inspiring hope in the realization that giving life and love is harder work than taking it. giving life and love and forgiveness and creating family – those are the behaviors to engage in to step into the miraculous.

as we strive to free ourselves, to uplift ourselves, to transform ourselves and our communities, let us consider what ‘by any means necessary’ looks like in practice for us now – especially if the outcome is unknown, immeasurable and unconditional; even if the means, at this moment, is militant love.

shrapnel

yesterday i spent the whole day working hard on being a human and trying to be upbeat.

i am so tired of this shit. there – i said it.

i am so tired of the layers and layers of injustice, of the de ja vu of my own reactions and the reactions folks are having to this tragedy, to my writing on it and others. yesterday i heard/saw voices/faces from my past coming up over and over again.

i remember years of seeing inequality up-close in my own family – what money was, what power was, what it wasn’t.

i remember standing in a room in epps, alabama with harry belafonte walking around holding a blown up photo of a girl being handcuffed in her school, crying. he was appalled – we all were. he rightly pointed out that a society must be judged by what it does, or doesn’t do, to protect the childhood of its children.

i remember when amadou diallo, sean bell and so recently young oscar grant were shot, and that sense each time that this was more than sloppy, racist policing, more than our lives being worth nothing. this felt like an offense in play, like a chase was on, a new live action video game and someone somewhere was racking up points with outlandish violence.

not the cops necessarily – i don’t get the sense in aiyana’s case that the cop meant to shoot a 7-year-old. i pray that s/he didn’t. but if we are in a system where that is within the realm of possibility, then it’s a failing system.

in my recent memory i see local activist gwen gaines talking about her experience at the funeral of three children, killed in a fire after the detroit energy company [DTE] turned their heat off. she talked about their little coffins, “i never thought i’d see a coffin that small”. i kept thinking of that last night at the vigil, that there shouldn’t be coffins that size.

i am not pointing my finger at the cops right now, and definitely not at the family for ‘housing a criminal’, which came up a lot in some of the commentary to my first writing. regular readers of my blog know that i blame the system, each and every time – and i seek systemic change.

cops, like soldiers, are members of our community. they are folks who needed a job, or wanted to serve their community. i know too many people whose options are a) to police their own community, b) police someone else’s community or c) have no work. that’s not a choice for me to make or judge.

what i absolutely judge is a system made possible by investments and complicit approval, by our daily financial choices, by our votes, by our actions, by our continuing to obey authority who abuse us and kill us and make it impossible for our children to have good lives.

i struggle with being an overly articulate introvert empath – i feel everything, and i need a cave to go and truly feel it in silence, to come to some peace with it. and need to sing it, say it, write it, try to eke some adequate response out of the world for this atrocity.

words keep coming to my mouth but i can’t get them out, too bitter, too angry. i spend most of my days pivoting myself and others towards hope and solutions, and i wish i could do so now. this is why i generally avoid the news cycle – stories like this make me want speed and size in my movement building when i know rushing growth is not the answer.

last night at dinner a poet-friend spoke of the shrapnel of honesty. that after a visceral truth telling, everyone involved is walking around with the shrapnel, and it can rear itself as a source of pain, or a numb reminder of the event, at any time.

i have very little faith that the right thing is going to happen right now…i was in NY when amadou was killed. i was in oakland when oscar grant was killed. i’ve watched how cops and government extract themselves from taking responsibility or changing practices related to their mistakes. i’ve watched how we get incensed when it happens, and drift away from the long-term work of creating real community alternatives and holding the “justice” bodies accountable.

it is so complicated and so not just about this one little girl. but what happened to aiyana is the truth – that is the kind of world we live in right now, that is particularly what the u.s. is about – detroit is what the rest of the country has to look forward to. that is the state of things, it is dire in that way, we need to stop that from being possible.

until we do, we will walk around with the shrapnel from each of these murders in each of us. i want to write something hopeful, and i am sure there are ways to reframe this situation.

and i will get there.

but i am not there yet. right now what i can do is grieve.

there is no justice for aiyana

there is no justice. not for aiyana stanley jones.

there is punishment, and perhaps accountability. someone to point towards, many people, a trail of blame, stories, mistakes and tears.

but there is no justice.

i’m just home from a vigil for aiyana. i don’t like to go to these things because they make me feel too raw and hopeless. my partner, however, knew that we had to go and make sure aiyana’s story was told. so here it is: she was alive yesterday, 7 years old. she went to bed on a couch in a first floor room with her grandmother last night. in the wee hours of the morning, cops raided her house. a man outside the house shouted that there were kids inside. a man on the second floor of the house was a suspect in the murder of a 17-year-old last Friday.

the police threw a “flash bang” through the front window. it blinded everyone inside; it lit aiyana on fire.

the news reported a tussle with the grandmother, during which the firearm discharged. everyone in the family says there was no tussle, that the grandmother was throwing herself over the baby when aiyana was shot in the head.

what do you call the blinded, terrified groping of a grandmother who knows her grandchildren are in the room, blasted from safety and sleep into chaos and danger, whose granddaughter is on fire? how do you comfort a man like aiyana’s father, which was forced to lie face down in his daughter’s blood by the same police officers who killed her?

the police shot and killed aiyana. they shot her in the forehead. her family saw her brain on the couch. by accident, perhaps. which doesn’t even matter to a 7-year-old. you don’t get let off any hooks for your intentions in this case, officer.

apparently a crew from the television show 48 Hours were with the police during the raid. i can’t help but wonder what their footage shows, and if filming for the show had anything to do with the drastic tactics and fatal timing – flash bombing a home in the middle of the night when the women and children are most likely to be home and sleeping.

standing on the sidewalk with over 100 black people, some shell-shocked, some sharing bits and pieces of the tragic gossip, some railing against the mayor, some staring at each other or holding each other in quiet sadness…i only saw the children. they were running, kicking, punching each other. playing. they were all 7 to me, however big or small. they were all potentially aiyana. yesterday she was with them, today she is martyred for no cause.

several members of imam luqman‘s family were present, in prayer as we approached the house, present in solidarity with the particular grief of losing a loved one to violence at the hands of authority figures.

as we left the crowd, a man walked past us – more literally was dragged past us, barely able to walk, wailing in grief. his voice ripped through the southern twilight on the street, the realest voice there. i had spent the whole day around beautiful, vibrant children – little boys who ran circles around me and kicked everything because they were ninjas, and then grabbed my hands gently and easily to cross the sidewalk. and then i held a 2-day-old baby, totally fresh, just barely opening his eyes to say hello. what is more valuable than our children? this man, stumbling down the sidewalk weeping – this is how it feels when society offers up our babies as human sacrifices in pursuit of an unattainable justice.

i wanted to hold him. i wanted to say it would be ok, that there would be justice for aiyana. but i don’t believe, right now, there is any real justice for the violent deaths of our youth.

every thread i pick up in the story leads to more impossible questions.

why are police officers legally able to use military tactics on a house with children in it on a sunday morning…or any morning, on any house, with anyone in it?
why do the grieving faces of people on this street look so unsurprised?
and when 17-year-old Jerean Blake was killed Friday, wasn’t that equally devastating? did we do enough as a community at that moment?
do we know how to keep our children safe?
can we admit that we don’t know anything about how to be the kind of society where this could never happen?

to step back from the immediate events is to see what happens in communities who internalize the corporate military worldview that some people are expendable. the way we function as an economy that places profit first is that it’s normal for people in uniform to throw bombs into the home of civilians and shoot children.

an economy that valued people first could never justify those tactics.

i think of the children in my life – those blessed and loved and safe, and those who will never really be safe because of how the world sees them. the way aiyana died, the last minutes of her life – that is terrorism. to know that that kind of terror and pain can happen to a child in this time – IS happening to children, funded by our tax dollars, right now, in iraq, afghanistan, palestine, arizona, and here in detroit – is to understand that as things stand, there is no justice. nothing will make it right, nothing will take away the pain, nothing will heal us – and anyway, there is no time to heal. not for aiyana.

detroit police, at the behest of the detroit city government, are on the offensive in this war against our community. this is national in scope – international really. we cannot keep half-healing from the wounds inflicted on us – we have to fundamentally shift the way we participate in our lives and in the creation of our local economies and societies. we have to demand that police fundamentally shift how they are allowed to function in our communities – they must be disarmed, we must demand they focus their training on the humanity of communities, unlearning these tactics of creating devastation from a safe distance.

we have to make today’s events impossible – that is the only way to regain our humanity. then, maybe, we can use the word justice.

live blogging 50 for 5E

what is up beloved readers!

so i am at the 50 for 5E event [our last night in this venue] – a fundraiser for our Detroit community-owned hip-hop venue. the funds will go to the restoration/construction of the new venue.

the event will run from 5pm tonight till 5am tomorrow morning and i am gonna be liveblogging it for as long as i can hang! i just drank a big old iced coffee drink which should keep me poppin for at least the first 5 hours :)

i got dressed up for the event:

one of the freshest aspects of the event is the ticket package – tonight you can buy a $50 package [designed by Wes, 1/3 of the Emergence team] which includes 10 entries into the future 5E Gallery location [just down Michigan Ave from the venue we're in tonight] and 5 drink tickets.

the first act i saw was karanji featuring the soul water band. the singer in the band has one of the loveliest voices i have ever heard come out of a man. there are 50 artists performing tonight – i hope this dude sings with all of them.

i have my computer so that i can get several hours of work done for ruckus and us social forum. i bring the movement to the club.

to balance that, i have not 1 but 2 flasks here tonight because people always get generous with my stash and it’s 12 hours after all. #don’tjudge.

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mz jonz is hosting right now. that enough is reason to stay all night – she is the funniest person i know who isn’t a paid comedian.

detroit has so much talent – aztec is rockin the stage right now. they took all the tables and chairs out to accommodate how packed it’s gonna get in here tonight. right now there’s a half-moon of folks trynna bop their heads as hard as his flow.

the most exciting thing to me so far is that Fowl is in the building. i worked with Fowl through Detroit Summer when he was a baby. Now he towers over me, and easily holds the title of “Person who is gonna be unbelievably famous real soon”.

self says has the whole room chanting ” i love myself – i like myself – i love myself – i like myself.” yes i do. you can chant from afar :)

Big A is on the microphone. this dude is so angry and political on the mic and then get him on the side and he is the sweetest person ever. he’s heading to lebanon for while – i really appreciate the content of his lyrics, he talks about the hardships of life and how love comes through it all.

fowl just rocked the mic – 3 songs but it coulda been 20 – he is such a star already :)

oh my goodness. a little baby just got up and rocked her abcs over the beat. that is what’s up.

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ok we been in it for a minute now. i am still going strong. if you check my twitter feed we’re posting occasional photos of folks who got the ticket package. you can donate online at 5egallery.org.

ok, finale just arrived. he took a pause from patiently waiting for his baby to arrive to come through and perform tonight. my girl dream just arrived looking lovely.

its beautiful to see all the familiar faces here tonight – this really has become a family event – folks roll through with their babies, folks come to support each other. there are folks in here who had their first performance ever in this spot. its a beautiful thing.

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ok we got 5 hours left…i can’t lie i am a little sleepy already. but i love 5E, and i love the folks who are here who haven’t performed yet. finale, invincible, miz korona, monica blaire, mz jonz…quest mccody? mu? big tone? yeah the night has barely begun. so i am hangin tough.

it helps that Jessica Care Moore has been hostin and performing. She is wearing the smallest purple thing that’s allowed outdoors – every time she walks outside it’s 5th avenue. this is the sound: “i’d fuck you but then i’d have to kill you – with interest, for your interest.” ok?

and the money is rolling in. you can give, no matter where you are! just go to 5e Gallery to donate from afar.

community venues are so important – 5E has hosted an all women’s hip-hop night which has revitalized the city. piper carter and sicari ware have put in hours of time, along with dozens of other members of the community, to create a truly beautiful space for folks to come together and create.

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wow an artist named dumani just got up and did a gorgeous rendition of lift every voice on electric guitar. that song is one of the most perfect things of all time, in my opinion. here’s the lyrics:

Lift every voice and sing, till earth and Heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise, high as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.

in my research i just discovered [remembered?] that this song has many verses. some are very religious. this is on the list of stuff i have to learn for my repertoire of black music. being in this space tonight makes me remember that we have always come together and supported each other, created together, and made each other’s dreams possible. that’s all that is happening tonight – piper and sicari and invincible and others have organized a space to uplift the community and now the community is giving back.

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finally.

finale is on the stage. in my humble opinion, he is an unparalleled artist when it comes to speed and complexity, and he’s kind of the quiet storm. off-stage he’s quiet, humble, sweet. then he gets on and it’s just the most raw in your face flow you ever heard. he’s my favorite rapper in detroit after invincible. matter of fact – i’ll be right back.

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i have returned. 3 hours left. i went to check out finale and invincible performin together. these are two artists who are amazing on their own, but my first experiences always involved them performing together and i love the impeccable respectful energy present when they share a stage. it always feels a little dangerous, like they could push each other over some edge of quality into a new form of music. every time i see finale i feel an upswell of love that is reserved for my chosen brothers, which includes finale and sam, my sister’s husband, who i literally, instinctually call brother when i see him.

i wonder how clearly i am communicating at this point.

i wonder who the deep detroit readers are who are reading this 2:19 part of the blog :)

miz korona is now on the stage. she is slept on in a way that makes me wanna shake people. she was in 8 mile. in real life she is an incredibly raw, incredibly charismatic rhyme artist with a bullet proof delivery. “i’m from the zoo where the lions, tigers, and wolverines live…it’s a zoo i go ape/spit banana clips/ill monkey bars…”

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just went running like a screaming michael jackson fan to faint on the floor while monica blaire delivered, as she always does, the performance of the night. part of me wants her to be famous, and a smaller more selfish part wants to keep her here in detroit as the pearl in our oyster. i can’t even quite explain what happens when she sings. she dances. and she throws her head back in ecstacy. and then she opens her mouth and this thrilling, sensual, spiritual wall of sound comes out. she plays with you and then she delivers. on my very first trip to detroit, on my ride to the airport, my ride jenny lee passed me her cd. and i kind of fell out. i was a superfan before i ever got to see her live.

and then i saw her live.

i think she could save the world if her full power was unleashed on the masses. because she makes everyone feel better about themselves, and about being alive. she has two songs right now that are restorative: “i’m not scared any more of bein something great.” and then – “you’re a rocket/you’re on fire/you’re gonna take us/so much higher”. blast off.

really longing for skittles and m&ms at this point in the evening.

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ok now i am freaked out excited because diana nucera and i just made a date to make music with sterling on monday.

i honestly have no idea who is on stage – music is playing. i am asleep but still got my eyes open interacting with folks and writing this.

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it’s 4:18am. this is one of my favorite times to be asleep. being awake right now seems a little like an insult to my soul. or my body. i never used to do this without help.

i just met mike “agent x” clark – one of the best house djs ever. i didnt get to hear him but he’s on podomatic.com so go check him out.

wow – i had to correct my spelling like 18 times in that sentence alone. i am focusing and bringing myself into present. the desire to sleep is just because i am normalized to think i should be sleeping now. but i remember a time when i would always be up at this time on a saturday. and i would see the sunrise. wait for it.

ok y’all. the event is done, we are breaking it down. i could say a lot of things right now and the majority of them would be unacceptable for public consumption. i don’t know tho, this might be private writing at this point. i am literally writing just to move my fingers and thus be doing something and thus not sleep. drums still goin, music still goin, so we can bop while we clean. but that was quite the event and i am so excited to climb in my bed and stay there indefinitely.

thanks for reading!

read some other people

read charles johnson. he wrote a book called Middle Passage which grace lee boggs put my attention onto.

the book is a fantastical political poetic novel about a black scoundrel who catches a ride on a slaver out of new orleans to avoid his debt and a forced marriage. the slaves his bosses pick up are magicians and spirits who rebel – and whose essential belief system is that we are all one. the ultimate failure, to them, is to be set in opposition, or any kind of separation, from another.

a few of the now underlined sentences in the novel:

“The problem was how to win without defeating the other person.”

“A man’s soul was an alchemical cauldron where material events were fashioned from the stuff of feelings & ideas.”

“What came out of us, not what went in, made us clean or unclean.”

“It was Captain Falcon’s belief that slave insurrections could be prevented if, for every ten prisoners, one was selected to oversee the others and keep them in line…”The best way to control a rebellious nigger” “, said he, “is to give him some responsibility.”" [How often does THAT happen in our political organizing??]

“If you are born on the bottom – in bondage – there are only two ways you can go: outright sedition, or plodding reform.”

the book is a must read, particularly for organizers in the black community.

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also, if you are coming the allied media conference, read or re-read octavia butler. i am hosting a session to develop a strategic reader of her works! particularly looking for readers of the patternist and parables series.

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also, read this amazing poem by rainier maria rilke which my friend morgan sent me in response to my post, the ocean is coming:

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.

"Witness the contents of mind, the visions and sounds, the thoughts, as clouds passing through the vast expanse - the sky-like nature of mind. The rootedness of Being is in emptiness, clarity and awareness: unborn, unspoilt, stainlessly pure." ~ Alex Grey