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won’t you help me

i love the sound of the train moving through the dark, rumbling and announcing itself. i love the sound of the baby speaking herself into our conversations today. i love standing under the stars and singing up, halfway between the haunted schoolhouse and the haunted cotton fields, knowing my ghosts and ancestors shared this view, and maybe they sang themselves through tribulation too.

wrote a song under the stars tonight and got to sing it while my beloved adaku utah danced the life into it. here’s the words, i’ll record if i can soon.

if I knew the way
I’d lead you to our water
if I knew the way
I’d take you to our dirt
if I knew the way
I’d lead you home right now
I don’t know I don’t know
I don’t know I don’t know
I don’t know I don’t know
won’t you help me figure it out

if we knew the way
we’d be among those stars now
if we knew the way
we’d be whole
if we knew the way
we’d bring home all our babies
we don’t know we don’t know
we don’t know we don’t know
we don’t know we don’t know
won’t you help us figure it out

won’t you help us feel it out
won’t you help us grow it out
won’t you help us sing it out
won’t you help us figure it out

won’t you help us feel it out
won’t you help us grow it out
won’t you help us dance it out
won’t you help us figure it out

entering the maroon space of BOLD’s national gathering

the line between love and magic disintegrates
the direction of victory or surrender is not known to us now
that’s the weight we drag and dance with

I speak the truth when it’s soft and then when it’s jagged
I use my hands to cast the spells beneath my words
I use my heart to imbue time with the rhythm of miracle
I don’t let go – when you leave the ocean you’re still ocean

the way I need to love and be loved brings me home
and it is so black I can hide here, I can shine
it is so black we can breathe here, and all of us shine

when the insect kingdom says hello

i arrived in miami on tuesday evening for some facilitation work with my loves at the climate justice alliance.

midday wednesday i noticed something had bitten me on my shoulder.

and my arm.
and my back.
and my fingers.

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survey of the people around me was that it was most likely mosquitoes, but said check for bed bugs. i suspected spiders (i was hospitalized once from spider bites), but the internet said they Never bite this much.

so i checked the bed corners with a flashlight and credit card, already near tears because a million small bugs is worse than one big one.

none of the signs the internet offered up were happening, so i fell into a dubious sleep.

woke up after three hours to go to bathroom and then touched my face. something was wrong. turned on the light and there’s new bites – one on my forehead, the other, worst of all, on my eyelid.

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so disrespectful.

and so clearly in that bed without my consent.

they/it also got my thigh thrice over.

four sleepless hours later i go to work and even my mosquito theorists are like girl there’s demons in your bed! i asked the internet via instagram for a diagnosis and learned that many of my beloveds have suffered horrible attacks from bed bugs, spiders, detergent, no see ums, mosquitos, and even sea lice (micro jellyfish spawn!!). they prescribed lavender, tea tree and peppermint oils, benadryl, cortisone, tiger balm, vaporub, plaintain, ice and more.

i followed all the advice, like an itchy paper bag, in the wind, in that one movie about a future flump supporter with the roses.

still, people gasped when seeing my back and switched languages so i wouldn’t hear the awful truth.

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i went to the front desk of the hotel and pointed at my face – “something bit me all over and i want to change rooms”. dude didn’t flinch, just asked what room so they could fumigate and gave me new keys. something about that made me so mad.

you knew! i know you knew!

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no new bites this morning, but everything was swelling and hot and itchy. three people i love insisted i go see a dr. i finished the meeting and went to the clinic.

the nurse doing my vitals was cool, he looked at my face and was like “wow. the eyelid? ouchers.” he also said, “it’s most likely microscopic insects in the sheets”.

bed bugs. or fleas, which i hadn’t considered til another guest shared that she’d found a flea and seen people with non-service pets.

the doctor came and looked at all 22 bites and was like – “it’s really good you came in. your lymph nodes are rock hard. that’s a lot of toxin to take in.”

she prescribed $340 of medicine which insurance brought down to $50 which i plan to charge to the hotel when i have them steam clean my life tomorrow.

i also got a steroid shot, WHICH WAS MAGIC. it hurt going in and felt like metal moving through my veins, but within 30 minutes my eye swelling was going down and i felt so alive!

i got wowed by miami beach, held two boa constrictors and wrote this blog while on this steroidal high. i definitely can’t do tour de france this year, but it’s miraculously fine with me.

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one friend said to see this all as medicine.
another is making me a protection spell.
another said i’m a gangster.
another said – what a story!

having the story to tell, and so many people loving on me, got me through the ick and ouch.

oooh – ok something i took said it’s used to put people under for surgery and as the weeknd says, i feel it coming.

love and Yoncé and even haters

i have two new pieces out in the world and wanted to make sure y’all saw them.

first, for valentine’s day, bitch magazine asked me to offer some thoughts on love.

the result is LOVE AS POLITICAL RESISTANCE, LESSONS FROM AUDRE LORDE AND OCTAVIA BUTLER – here’s an excerpt:

We’re all going to die if we keep loving this way, die from isolation, loneliness, depression, abandoning each other to oppression, from lack of touch, from forgetting we are precious. We can no longer love as a secret, or a presentation, as something we prioritize, hoard for the people we know. Prioritizing ourselves in love is political strategy, is survival.

From religious spaces to school to television shows to courts of law, we are socialized to seek and perpetuate private, even corporate, love. Your love is for one person, forever. You celebrate it with dying flowers and diamonds. The largest celebration of your life is committing to that person. Your family and friends celebrate you with dishes and a juicer. You need an income to love. If something doesn’t work out with your love, you pay a lot of money to divide your lives, generally not telling people much unless it’s a soap opera dramatic ending. This way of approaching love strangles all the good out of it.

What we need right now is a radical, global love that grows from deep within us to encompass all life.

i was also honored to reflect on the afrofuturist elements of Beyoncé’s grammy performance last sunday.
Beyonce’s Grammy Performance Was a Gilded Afrofuturist Dream

an excerpt:

I want to close with a moment of reverence for the exquisite symbology of healing that is Beyoncé in the last moment of the performance. After the last woman, a white woman, surrenders to her (which, in most parallel universes, would have foreshadowed her inevitable slaying of the awards)—we are left with Beyoncé, timeless and holy, face to face with the camera, her full mother-breasts gleaming, her nails sharp enough to protect against any who would harm her family, her face that of a woman who has learned the sacred witchcraft of healing, who has grown a universe in the landscape of her broken heart.

This performance is, like the best black speculative work, a spell we cast for a liberated, abundant black future. The healing we need will require the creative abundance of so many black women stepping into our wholeness.

i wanted to offer a psa for haters specifically, because i heard round the way that other people have encountered haters who still struggle to feel what Beyoncé is offering up as an artist. it appears that She keeps growing, but Her critics don’t. the knee jerk reactions range from bitter to misogynistic to reductive to outdated to obsessive. as always, i wonder: if Her work doesn’t do it for you, if you can’t respect Her art or Her hustle, why can’t you keep your eyes off of Her, or keep Her name out your mouth? your attention is in your control…isn’t it? mine is – i don’t give it to anything that isn’t worthy of it. which means that in addition to my revolutionary work, and my creative pleasure magic work, i give as much of it as i can to black women artists who delight me with their growth and their success in current conditions – success that creates more room for futures where we all get to determine our success beyond the matrix. so i give my attention to Her, gleefully, because She earns it with Her transformative life, learning, giving and abundant work. perhaps next time you feel moved to critique Her winning, you can pour that energy into doing something impressive with your own miraculous life? mkay, kizzzzzes.

Guest Blog: WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION OF OUR TIME? from Marcia Lee

Marcia Lee asked this question on Facebook and i really loved the questions that came out. i asked her if we could share the questions further, and she responded not only with the questions organized but this awesome framing:

“We are living in a time where it is essential that we strive to have our values and our actions match. However, fast action without sufficient analysis and reflection will lead to reactions to the immediate rather than long term transformation. We need to move fast slowly.

“One of the ways we move fast slowly is ask carefully crafted questions and allow the answers to be our actions. If we don’t ask the right questions, we will not have the right answers. In the last few years of Grace Lee Bogg’s life, she would often ask people who came to visit her, “What is the most important question of our time?” She would often pair this question with, “What time is it on the clock of the world?” The second question grounds us in our reality and then in discovering the important question for this time, we are able to move more effectively towards the answer.

“In order to help us to find the right question, I asked folks on facebook. 34 people responded and the questions basically came in a few categories. I am sharing a few questions that fit within each category, but if you want all of the questions, post a comment and we can share them with you. In sharing these questions with you, the hope is that you will either dive deeply into one of the questions or develop your own. If you would be willing to share your questions in the comments, I would be so grateful.

“Individual:

how do i keep moving forward when i am scared? ~adrienne

How do we heal ourselves? ~Parker

What healing do I need to commit to in myself so my being can impact the healing needed throughout my community? ~Shelly

What is required of me, in this moment? ~Mindy

How can we be kind to ourselves and others? ~Cristina

Why am I standing still? How can I move forward to be a catalyst of hope, love, and joy? ~Tania

What am I willing to do? ~Scherezade

What do you notice in your body? Where in you is calling to your attention? What does it need/asking for? ~Sarah

How can I support myself & others in letting love guide? ~Mahfam

“Organizing:

What are we willing to surrender for the sake of the future of living communities on the planet? ~Margaret

how does humanity reconnect to our shared fate? ~Leo

What are the differences between a riot, rebellion and revolution and how can we sharpen the analysis around resistance so that it speaks to the role of the visionary. ~Tawana

How are we equipping future generations to be fearless and free of the current structures of oppression? ~Ryan

How can we radicalize our relationships, narratives and actions to build stronger communities through tougher and more turbulent times? ~Michelle

Do you know how to organize and act while listening to those who are silenced? ~L’Heureux

Where do I/you still hold on to greed? ~Cynthia

how do we effectively organize to create a mass movement capable of turning the tide. ~Lou

“Environment:

How can we, as a global society, take the treat of climate change serious enough to have 1st world countries drastically change to renewable & to help developing countries to prosper without using polluting natural resources. ~Ant

How can we better manage land and other natural resources? ~Lawrence

How do we save our one and only planet as mining, logging, drilling, etc will now get a giant green light? ~Sura

“Diversity:

How are we valuing each person regardless of gender identity, race, ethnicity, religion, abilities? ~Rhonda

How do we inculcate a spirit of cooperation in people from differing value systems? ~Rain

Can/how do you convince someone to change their mind/act differently without threatening them or yourself? ~Joey

How do we prevent the conflict that arises when cultures meet and clash? ~John

“Politics:

How do we eradicate poverty? ~Desmond Tutu (I asked him this question a few years ago and this was his answer at the time)

How do we end these huge pendulum shifts from one set of values to the other, in terms of the belief systems that influence governance? are these pendulum swings to be understood nationally or globally? is there a way out? also: what motivates those who seem to care only of short-term profit? do they know a way off the planet that others don’t? what do they want for their grandchildren? When I taught US government to high school students I mapped this out and it went back to the early 19th century, maybe even 18th. There’s a way to read it as proof that the voting public will never let extremes get too extreme. That there’s a self-correcting instinct toward centrism. That read now feels dead wrong. The swings are exhausting, untenable and dangerous. And I wonder if it’s always felt that way to people who have lived through more of them. ~Dani

“Why?” is the most important question. The truth will be the most important answer. ~Frantz

“Community:

Why won’t every single body sit still some damn where and mind his/her own damn business? Stop trying to fix everything and fix his/her own self. Stop interfering with other people’s land, homes, and livelihood. ~Sun

We are all connected. How do we come to know this in our bones? ~Ian

At what point does the greed end? ~Daniel

How do we encourage actions showing love and acceptance that are rooted in equity and justice? How do we heal from shame? ~Esperanza

What are the young people saying to us that needs to be listened to and explored more deeply? ~Janice

What are the best things a man can do to support the rights and equality of women? ~Michael

How can we be love when we are surrounded by hate? ~Fred”

the steps from queen to goddess

from marvin k. white:

Let me just go head and play fast and loose with a pop theology. A Beyoncéan Theology, if you will. There is no time for overthinking Beyoncé’s performance. It happened. She slayed and the power of a pop hermeneutics of suspicion, stay with me(and this whiskey)… shows Beyoncé offering her body on the last supper table. She took the seat at the head of the table. She made it a birthing chair. She said, do not only remember his dying, but the circumstances of his birth. Remember who he came through. There is no salvation without women. Do you remember being born? Do you remember the last time you were hungry? Do you remember the last time you thought your last supper was your last? Do you remember any last thing, getting on my last nerve, or this, the last time we decide the contributions of and the healing of and the remembering of women’s powers, happens on that table. She asks, if you want to know where women were in the meal, they probably prepared it. Actually, her performance reimagines the foretelling of Christ’s pending death and resurrection, reimagines his impending slaying of life and death. Her performance speaks of the incarnation, not as God becoming a man, but as God becoming a uterus, becoming a woman to give birth to the God self. Beyoncé puts the story, not in the mouths of men gorging themselves off of the fixings of women, hanging on every cross word coming out of Jesus’ mouth, and not on bread and wine, but puts the story, a new account of the gospels, a new Eucharist, in the mouths of women. A Beyoncéan institution of the fellowship table, makes the claim that Jesus was saying, “This is no longer about me. Its about my mama. This is about women knowing that under patriarchy, there is never the last supper. Do this in memory of the Mother God, the one who all life comes through. Beyond bread and wine, remember the birth and the afterbirth.”

#EvenAdeleWorshipsAtTheBeyoncéanTemple

#IDidAShotEveryTimeAdeleThankedBeyoncé

#AndThenTheBeyoncéanMiracleTwoWhiteWomenWishedThatBeyoncéWasTheirMother

#TheologicalSlay

she is winning at goddessing.

she is showing what healing and healed look like.

and i’m not mad at adele. she sang! she’s great. there’s no category for something like lemonade.

i spent the weekend feeling into god. this performance felt like a kiss on the belly. we grow beyond the current container, we heal and it is glorious.

no aspect of this system can comprehend what we’re creating.

let us become enough

(god is change)

you cannot god alone
you alone are not enough to grow the world

lonely men
are why the world is wounded

god is a multitude
of yes, of you
you were born worthy of belonging
born precious

so were all of our enemies

who has forgotten
their godselves?

when people are being hunted
your singular sacred body
is not sanctuary enough
not blockade enough

you think you are so big
come here, into the ocean
feel? how small you are?

when people are being hunted
it takes every small body
answering the call of the moon
to eclipse the searchlights
to block the doors
to unveil the pathway home

but home is not enough

if bullets can puncture them
if fists can fill them
if they cannot protect the families inside
then even walls don’t matter

your body must become tunnel
our bodies: an earthen web of liberation
arteries of life that cross
boundaries of bone
forward lit only by song
through the safety of darkness
from blood cells shaped
by prayer

but prayer is not enough
if you cast the line away
from your own heart
with private whispers
saying please please please

our prayer:

let us flood each other
with strength and courage
let us become the miracle
right now
fill this breath with our godselves
let us honor our ancestors as we become them
stand with ghost warriors
and weaponized dreams
be the future in the face of the past
change the vast world
with our ferocious and beautiful longing
for freedom

let us
become
enough

now we can

I remember one time I was talking about how capitalism was failing and classmate-friend-teacher-organizer Mia Herndon said “capitalism is working exactly as it is meant to. in competition and constant growth, those who don’t compete, or who compete less viciously, suffer, serve and struggle.”

now it feels to some people like America is failing, like the people who said “make America great again” are confused. but this is the trajectory of nation states, of borders and white supremacy. deepening our anti-capitalist and post-nationalist analyses will help make this moment an opportunity.

also, saying “I told you so” in any way is tacky and diminishes the speaker, because saying is not enough if we don’t effectively organize to make our visions palpable and our strategies collective. so we knew “make America great again”, when uttered by white supremacists, was not harkening the racism of the 1980s, or even 1950s, but the era of chattel slavery that preceded and seeded our current prison system. we may have done our very best, but we did not organize effectively enough to have the power to stop this moment.

but now we can. this moment is our ledge, or choice point. we are as free as we choose to be. (baldwin)

now we can put a moratorium on shading and attacking other factions of movement on the internet (or in meetings, or with funders) and either choose to collaborate or ignore other efforts while still counting them as part of our own resistance momentum.

now we can look at each person, regardless of background or experience, as a potential comrade (butler) and figure out how we must transform ourselves to transform the dynamic (boggs) in the name of liberation. i have been practicing this in cabs – i’ve had three transformative conversations with drivers in the last three days – people just need one suggestion, one encouragement to question everything.

now we must look within ourselves and ask what actions we are willing to take, what interventions we are capable of, if we can will ourselves into honest conversations, if we believe in our visions enough to step towards them, if we are brave enough to assert the future we require and to shape it.

the other option is to survive for a while, pointing at the very sharp thing aimed at our hearts and getting closer by the minute.

adapt! dodge, weave, learn from the L, slip out of your ego, hold each other, scream the truth and keep moving towards life. everything is going fine in this realization of someone else’s imagination. but we dream another world, and we make it come true.

confederacy

weep, and become more intentional about building shared ideas of the present and future with your friends, neighbors and family. talk in more depth at the intersections of ideas – relinquish right and wrong, listen, argue and understand each other.

rage, and donate/join a local group that is organizing people to determine their collective longing and exercise their collective power. focus on those led by Black, Arab, immigrant and indigenous community members.

share the news with sad/angry faces, and download signal and whatsapp (and adapt to best options as the landscape shifts beneath our fingers).

ridicule the victors, and then remember that they and all their grandchildren will rely on this planet, and science, as much as anyone else. we have to make sure what we know to practice outlives their spiritual foolishness. #nodapl, listen to and invest in the people still in touch with our original relationship to this planet.

grieve the narrative of America that has kept you from hearing about the civil war until this moment, and then get your hands dirty bending the arc of the world towards justice.

#resist
#persist
#create
#adapt
#revolt
#liberate
#transform
#evolve

my body is a spell i’m casting

because this is an unfree world;
because it is sandra brand’s birthday;
because change is happening so quickly;
because i need armor;
because i have lived and loved these words for so long;
because i needed to feel a black queer woman make a mark on me;
because there is pain i can endure;
because the idea made me feel more of myself:

i got two tattoos, spells from ancestors in my lineage of liberation creativity, this evening.

on my right arm, camus says: the only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.

on my left arm, octavia says: all that you touch you change, all that you change changes you, the only lasting truth is change, god is change.

my body is a spell i’m casting towards everything i long for, towards being so absolutely free, towards being a divine and willing force of change that builds the absolute freedom of all beings – freedom from hatred, inferiority, violence, regression, stagnation and facism. freedom to cocreate a society worthy of a miraculous world, freedom to love and change the world always towards joy and interdependence. freedom to live days full of good news and togetherness. freedom to learn to be sentient and be an essential fragment of something so vast and glorious i can never conprehend it. freedom to be special and humble. freedom to move beyond paradigms of winning, losing, reforming and surviving – to move towards life and more life.

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the letters are written in my own hand with the intention of being worthy of wearing them. with deep gratitude to vanessa reynolds for being a calm presence and sure hand in this work.

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