Tag Archive for 'apocalypse'

living through the unveiling

things are not getting worse, they are getting uncovered. we must hold each other tight and continue to pull back the veil.

people have been detained at our borders, people are being deported, people are being sent away from the US. we are making plans with the people we love about what to do in case they get stuck outside these borders or sucked out of these borders.

there are white supremacists, overt white nationalists, in office at the federal level, people who don’t hide their feelings of supremacy.

there are climate change deniers, people who seem to think what we do has no impact on the earth, being appointed to have oversight of our US relationship to the earth.

people with no experience or even apparent concern about the majority of human beings are being appointed to oversee how we are educated, how we are housed, everything about how we live.

it certainly feels like this is worse than what we have been experiencing from our federal government. i say feels like because, as a radical, i am not certain that that’s true. In fact, i’m pretty sure that it’s not true.

at no point in my adult life have I seen the government make the necessary decisions about climate, take real leadership to turn and face the changes we have to make in order to survive. everything has been woefully incremental. we have been facing climate apocalypse for some time now.

police, and military, are, and have been, armed racial profilers filling modern day slave cages, upholding imperialist lines of power. black people have been in the streets saying we are not paranoid and we are not criminals – there’s something rotten in this nation. indigenous water protectors have been telling us there’s something rotten in this nation. our comrades in the global south, in Muslim nations, all over Latin America have been telling us there’s something rotten in this nation.

our history is bloody with governments who have faced our interventions, whose borders have moved, whose people have died if we didn’t like how they looked, how they prayed, if they didn’t want to support our economic interests over their own.

our borders are littered with the bones of those who were not only not welcomed, but hunted down by militia, left with no water in the desert. in most cases, those people have come from the same places that our interventions destabilized.

and I live in Detroit, where we have lived under emergency management for years. in the corruption of the city we have seen overwhelming displacement and overwhelming denial of services to people who are just trying to live, raise children, be a part of this place.

so why, now, does it feel like this?

why can’t we sleep, why are we in extreme patterns of drinking, smoking and numbing? why are so many of us in pain as our bodies try to keep up with the news? why are so many of us in a panic all day every day (and those that aren’t sound like they are in denial or rocking unearned hubris)?

perhaps the number one privilege of being an American is our narrative. we have a story that covers all of our wretched behavior, that makes us exceptional regardless of what we do. we’ve gotten lost in that story. we have believed that the beautiful princess wanted us for our virility, the apple was a nutritious offer from a frenemy, Oz was a magical city and that we are a benevolent, caring nation that really loves all of our differences, our democracy, our global nature. that we were almost there, to that place where we can know we are better than this.

as a nation we have quietly turned away from any numbers that seemed to make a counter argument about what we were up to – the suicide rates of trans people, the number of bodies along our southern border, the increasing rate of C-sections, sterilization and fibroids amongst women of color and poor women, the length of the existing wall, the number of people killed by our drones, the percentage of black people in prisons, the pace at which people of color are murdered by the state, the rising heat and ocean levels during this golden age of global warming. and so much more.

those of us who have shouted these numbers out, who have taken action in order to raise the attention of this country, have been called uncouth, negative, hyperbolic.

and we have been working in silos, each of us digging deep down into our own particular issues, our own particular numbers and making a case for why there’s a crisis.

so, what feels new is the unveiling; the heaviness is the increasing weight of the truth becoming undeniable as more people believe it.

right now, more and more of the truth of this country at this time is visible, left naked, made obvious. not only are each of us right about the particular crisis we have been holding, but others coming up out of their silos are right too – and the intersecting crises are massive.

now that it is plain to see that we are up against white supremacists whose plan for survival seems to be eliminating the majority of us, we no longer have the luxury of pretending we can change their minds with logic, or survive the pendulum swing of universal survival issues made partisan.

we have to be willing to engage in radical resistance and radical futuring.

because people are looking at us like, well, you were right, now what do we do?

we must increase our collective tolerance for truth. this means we must learn how to hold the full breadth of emotions we feel upon hearing the truth, and to keep listening, changing, taking action, learning. we must be willing to look at what actually needs to happen to address the truth.

we must deepen our connections to each other. there is no way the majority of us will survive this time if we continue working in isolation or in competition. we must meet at the intersections and lovingly figure out how to be in right relationship. we need the largest, and most authentic, collaborative efforts for justice and liberation that have ever been witnessed on this planet.

we must take the risk of leading. we must be willing to assert the solutions we believe in, to experiment with alternative ways of being human on this planet at this time. we must be willing to try out post-normative paths, we must be willing to say unpopular things.

we must divest. i am still trying to figure out what this looks like in real time. i know part of it is boycotts and buycotts and I am excited to see the lists of places we can stop putting our money and where to redirect it already moving around the internet. i know part of it is really being willing to stop financially supporting all of these things we so viscerally disagree with (#alternativetaxes).

i also think we need to learn to divest our attention from the circus in DC. i do not mean to ignore it or to escape it, but it’s not going to work to continue to spend the majority of our hours saying what the fuck what the fuck what the fuck to what’s coming out of DC.

i am grateful for those who have focused on tracking our resistance and our victories, that is really helpful. we must figure out how to get the information we need from the dying, antiquated present-day systems, and use it to continue doing the most radical work possible. we must put the majority of our attention where it can grow the next world.

not only are we the ones we have been waiting for, but this is the exact moment we have been shaped for. and even though it came so quickly, it has actually taken forever. but here we are, in this moment, the present moment, naked and messy and visible right down to our roots.

the veil never hid us from others, it only ever hid us from ourselves. now that more of us can see who we truly are, we must begin/continue to move towards who we truly want and need to be in order to sustain human life on this planet.

liberation is no small task – it is appropriately daunting for miraculous beings. it is a gift, to be given such undeniable purpose, such immense odds. hold each other tight, and let’s do this work.

obama farewell, in parts

obama farewell, in parts:

darkside me: i want him to incite rebellions, he is going for super shady.

eeyore me: but what do you say when democracy requires a peaceful transition to an r-kelly costar?

yoda me: listen you must. strategic he is. coherent sentences you may not hear again from this office.

this is the read me: he’s basically reading the fuck out of mump.

organizer me: much respect to people protesting right now #pardonusall

lucious from empire me: he got it all figured out and no one sees it. he gonna let dude play himself out, just watch.

zen me: there are no borders, there is no separation. everything is right.

beyoncé me: flump breaking all these rules, obama should just stay president.

neil degrasse tyson me: science and reason Do matter.

prince me: when you play the future you play yourself.

mariah carey me: shit happens.

post-nationalist, post-imperialist me: we are on the death star. the leadership doesn’t change the function.

abolitionist bae me: did he free the political prisoners yet?

black great/grand/daughter me: hush. listen – i can still feel a lineage of pride flowing through me.

clingy me: plus he said final point which reminded me what’s coming (sad face).

detroit voter me: and now he’s like y’all need to vote – that hurts more cuz i’m disenfranchised!

neal degrasse tyson me: wait was that bill nye the science guy?

american citizen me: i do wish it felt like this country he speaks of.

boggs-reader me: you have to love america enough to change it.

james baldwin me: i have said it before, but: I love America more than any other country in the world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.

darkside me: he has come for scump on every single frontline – the force of shade is an art with this one.

organizer me: he told people to organize. (clap clap clap)

beyoncé me: that look he gives michelle. i can’t.

darkside me: hear that shade of melonino?

zen me: you know nothing, relinquish attachment to this experiment.

fearful me: live live live

astrologer me: and just love. the whole mess. right now this love is the force most required in the universe. love directly and without shame. him and each other, there is enough.

me me: but (broken heart).

auntie me: glad he mentioned how malia and sasha nibblings have grown up so beautifully.

beyoncé me: see he is also most proud of parenting. just sayin.

scarface me: biden’s a tough dude.

me me: he looks heartbroken. they all have break-up-but-still-soulmates faces.

eeyore me: where is sasha?

cool teenager me: malia is counting down in her head.

this is the read me: everything after this is basically trash. basura.

zen me: its always what we make of it.

me me: love hurts. exhale.

be more of you (new year’s invitation and spell)

“we honor our ancestors by thriving.” – dallas goldtooth

it gets in our bones, fear. fear of ridicule and isolation, fear of the unknown, fear of past traumas being repeated.

fear that what we experience now is all there is.

fear of dying – individually, as a people, as movements.

the older we get, the more ways we watch people die – celebrities snatched up by the heart, economic and climate refugees swallowed by salt water, surprising accidents, death by state and/or other lynchings, drawn out battles with internal opponents, our perpetual global wars.

when the threats come we can shrink. as this year crash lands in a stand of burning trees, we have watched an unfolding of the unexpected against our radical will, a daunting removal of certain collectively held bubbles for those of us in us-based social movements.

we shrink in part by ignoring our own emotional breadth – our surprise, our grief, our mounting fears.

one of the ways we do our oppressors’ work for them is to deny our own complexity, wholeness, our right to exist; to attempt to shrink or disappear those parts of ourselves deemed inferior or undesirable to the mainstream. we can forget that WE shape the mainstream and all the alternative streams with our own lived assertions and divergence.

in the spirit of honoring change, taking the new year’s ritual as an opportunity to assert a collective behavioral commitment, i invite you to speak a spell aloud to yourself in the mirror until you believe yourself.

do this in the darkness of new year’s eve and anytime afterwards when such a spell is needed, including at the top of your lungs in the face of anyone even slightly challenging your right to be all of yourself.

remember the kinds of humans who transitioned this year – prince, bowie, gene wilder, prince be, phife, carrie fisher and debbie reynolds, george michael, leonard cohen, don mcvinney and so many others. in addition to your personal familial losses, take on these ancestors. be the fantastical and unique voice on whatever front lines you hold. hold your existence as sacred, drop into your post-compartmentalized whole self.

let this commitment to hold your wholeness as sacred inform your relationships, economics, fashion, food, and time use choices.

do not concede any of the ground you have gained on the path the liberation. be You with the volume on a million – all of your intersecting identities, cantankerous opinions and unorthodox pleasures. be unapologetically complex, a distinct individual in an interdependent network that thrives in part because of your unique offering.

do not shrink in the face of fear as we enter and live through a period of future-history that currently looks…foreboding at the least. instead, be more you.

thrive, at every level, as the living and joyful resistance towards the spreading blank, the nothingness, the sameness, the monoculture, the norm.

here is an offering towards the spell, feel free to use it verbatim, or remix, add onto, create your own:

i assert the sacredness of my whole self, as is.

i love myself with curiosity (as a student) instead of perfectionism.

i do not shrink inside of, or ignore, my fear – i move towards my longings with my fear as a part of my emotional wholeness.

i do not regress in my own expressions and assertions of liberation, i don’t take back anything that i have unveiled to be true in my politics. i recognize both the construct nature and consequential, experiential impacts of race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, ability, coping mechanisms, lived experiences, and so on. however whole i am today, i will fill that in in the face of fear.

i am kind in the heart of conflict – without betraying my beliefs.

i seek to understand the motivations of those who differ from me – without denying my full humanity.

i think my own thoughts and feel my own feelings, i cut through groupthink with love.

i have no reason to be ashamed of anything that has shaped me.

i grow movement and liberation through authentic connections and honest processes of alignment. i trade in urgency-based work for efficient, emotionally-honest work.

i relinquish my obsession with outcomes and with control.

i deepen into the call to shape a world that can hold all of me, knowing i can feel that world in my bones, even if i cannot yet fully comprehend or even imagine it.

i use the majority of my attention and words to generate joy, gratitude, positivity, solutions, pleasure, intimacy and liberation in myself and others.

in the neverending process of change, i will be more of myself.

golden ages apocalyptic offer

The golden age of climate change is in effect. It’s sweater weather, at most, in the ice tundra states of North America. It’s mid December. It’s gray…and balmy.

In many states this unseasonable warmth overlaps with the golden age of gentrification – goat cheese omelettes, truffle fries, health food stores and street bikes for rent are some of the key indicators.

It appears that golden ages are a function of privilege. We are learning that when you have little to no proximity to displacement, and the water keeps coming out of the faucet, and you can afford to shop in the health food stores even as you rail against the high prices, you can experience ease, even a sense of ignorant distance, inside end times crisis.

This post is just a ‘don’t forget’ nudge. As far as we know (we being all living scientists, and me) things are falling apart, actually.

Some sci fi immersions for this time

Mad Max: Fury Road (place yourself in the story! This won some acknowledgment recently.)

Dune (read it all)

Interstellar (because I like it, and so does my science hubband. Except last ten minutes)

Parables of the Sower and Parable of the Talents (read a few times! Hard and exciting because POC survive.)

2312

Future States TV

Pumzi

The Road (read)

And if you think Donald Trump is cute/funny, revisit Schindler’s List. Or Roots. He makes conceptual appearances in both.

Other recommendations? Add in comments PLEASE.

Oh and the apocalypse palate cleanser? Magic Mike XXL. (possibly feministish)

Parable of the Sower Concert Review/Gush

Terry Marshall of Intelligent Mischief recently articulated this moment we’re in as a Black Renaissance. I concur – we are transforming pain into gold at an impossible speed. I keep turning around and finding something black, brilliant, fantastic, collective, wonderful – I feel in the midst of an artistic explosion, of a people cultivating creativity and joy in the face of genocide and mass produced misery. And Octavia Butler is one of the seed mothers of this moment.

There are some of us who read the Parable of the Sower (and it’s sequel the Parable of the Talents), as sacred text. Butler, the author of these two near-future novels, was a black sci fi writer hermit who died in 2006 after giving us 12 novels, a collection of short stories, and winning the Hugo, Nebula and MacArthur genius grant.

Everything she wrote is provocative and interesting, but in the Parables she cuts in right next to her own story, and many of ours, a black girl creator, surviving. Lauren Olamina is growing up in a gated community in dry, divided California as the government swerves violently to right.

I heard a few years ago that Bernice Johnson-Reagon and Toshi Reagon, mother daughter movement folk singers, were going to make an opera of the Parables. At that time, I fell out with possibility. Then I wished I had lived my life differently, seriously pursued my vocal practice, tightening up my pitch issues, because clearly this was the best thing that could ever happen in life.

As the Opera/concert piece has moved along its iterative process, I’ve been awestruck by the caliber of talent in and around it, while also landing in my own Octavia/sci fi work (I’m in NY because Octavia’s Brood is reading at the Schomberg open house on Wednesday!).

In January there was a first set of Parables concerts. I was out of the country and seriously priced out what it would cost to fly to NYC for one night. Out of my economic capacity.

Then it was in Abu Dhabi, because…of course. Octavia in Abu Dhabi. But again, tickets were researched and too expensive and I was left bereft, so distant from the experience of my dreams.

All of this context is just so you understand a little bit about how ecstatic I was when it was announced that the concert would be in at the Annenberg Center in Philly when I was scheduled to be in NYC, when I priced the trip, when I realized it was possible. I got tears in my eyes buying the tickets. That’s the level of anticipation I took with me on the bus, to Philly, and into the concert.

Because this was a predestined perfect night, I got to eat at White Dog Cafe, which I’ve been hearing about for years – I have tons of respect for its founder Judy Wicks, who is one of the sparks in local living economies work. I shared a meal with my dear friends Sofia Santana, who bussed down with me from NYC, Jennifer Kidwell, and Sham-e-ali. Jennifer, an incredible singer and performer now based in Philly, was part of one of the earlier iterations of the opera. Sham, a poet, had seen the concert the night before and said she’d wept the entire time.

Rasheedah Phillips of Afrofuturist Affair was in the lobby with her sweetheart, we’d all been together at Ferguson is the Future just a couple of weeks ago.

Sofia and I got to the theatre right as the show was starting – I dashed to the bathroom and switched from my bus outfit into something more appropriate for a historic event. It had a belt, pink lipstick, the basics.

The musicians were tuning up in the black box of the theatre. There were twelve chairs in a circle, microphones, a full house audience, and the singers were standing at the edges of the theatre. I recognized vocalists Tamar-Kali and Karma Mayet Johnson, Marcelle Davis Lashley, violinist Juliette Jones. Many of the others were new to me.

Then Toshi came out from the back with a gorgeous smile on her face. I love watching her perform – she sits down surrounded by instruments and immediately makes it feel like we’re just watching her jam out in private, extending ease and intimacy to everyone.

Then the music came. It came up through Toshi, and from the edges of the room. I had to take off my belt right away. The context was set in songs that walked the line between chant, lamentation and praise. We learned that the water was gone, that some were seeking solace in God, and the gifted and gorgeous singer Shayna Small, who sang Lauren Olamina, was feeling a change, feeling everything.

After the second song I turned to Sofia and said “this is a best-experience-of-my-life”. There was a fearlessness about the songs, they were precise and subtle and then deep and full, the pace was just right – the pace respected the way Octavia told this story.

Toshi gave us some context after a few songs. I’m not sure it was needed, it all felt so spiritually correct…but how could I know, I’ve read the text twenty something times.

Toshi spoke at various points throughout, her words always spare and heart opening. As the journey north began, she said, ‘if you don’t know where you are going, you can just make something up and walk on that.’

The main thing I will say about the songs is that as I was hearing them I was deeply satisfied, and when each song passed I wanted to rewind and stay in it, even the songs that covered the hardest moments. Hyper empathy in an apocalypse is painful, the terrifying world changing behind them as Lauren and her crew made their way north, the ideological battles between systems of belief that give and take away responsibility – the Reagons have written songs that allow us to feel all up in this text.

I didn’t know I needed these songs till I was flooded in them.

One of my favorite moments was Toshi inserting a folk singer into the story. She said it was Octavia’s mistake, that when things are going so badly, people need the singers to tell the story, to give them back to themselves. Yes, exactly.

Towards the end of the concert, the songs were straight up Earthseed verses. I kept catching tears all over my face and then getting caught up in wonder, needing to undulate and tap my foot and dance and sing along.

Helga Davis was a sitting closest to us, and her moves were so funky and distinct, Sofia and I couldn’t take our eyes off her.

I walked out after and ran into several magical people, including radical dance artist Althea Baird, both of us wide open and teary eyed. Annie Danger later posted that those of us who’d experienced the show might need a support group to live into the change. Sonia Sanchez was in the audience.

Now I’m glowing from the experience, wanting everything I suffer through, everything I learn, to be sung in chorus by the Reagons. And even as I wonder how I can hear the songs again, I recognize that in this time of instant gratification it is a gift to be given something so rare, so visceral, so about being bodies and hopes and grief in a room together.

Thank you Toshi and Bernice for the vision and the execution. Thank you Eric Ting for the direction – the presentation felt so organic, centering the songs and voices. Thank you Bertilla, Helga, Karma, Tamar-Kali, Morley, Marcelle, Josette, Shayna and Jason for the gift of your voices and the way you became conduits for this crucial story. Thank you Juliette, Robert, Fred and Adam for the music which swelled up the room.

Looking forward to the next iteration.

one sentence sci-fi story.

sun sci fi short

And then the blue sky cracked open and it was obvious, too late, that we were in and of the Sun, we’d been worshipping a hole in a great fabric, we were ash, breathing.

surviving apocalypse (what i learned at the movies)

i watch and read an incredible amount of science fiction, and am particularly obsessed with the patterns of how communities function when something awful (plague, natural disaster, alien attack) happens.

here’s what i have learned so far:

1. keep necessary information somewhere other than an electronic device. key addresses and directions particularly. phones and computers are the first thing to go and may even turn against you. only alien technology is guaranteed to work.

2. find food fast. and water. generally know where your walkable food store is, and keep a week’s worth of food and water in your home, as most disasters in movies seem to take 3 days to unfold. if something happens in oakland i have my whole foods looting list ready to go!

3. know martial arts, or some other skill, as a mode of self-defense. people quickly deteriorate under the pressures of hunger, thirst and fear, and it’s a good thing to know how to block at a bare minimum, and especially to sweep someone’s feet out from under them.

4. hone your instinct for telling what kind of people you’re with. the best kind of people to be around during an apocalypse are those who stay cool and even funny in crisis. if you have people in your life not like this, why? you’re gonna have to spend the whole crisis talking them down or dying cuz they freak out. upgrade now. maybe all take a martial arts class together.

5. learn what is edible in your neighborhood. after about 2 days the grocery stores will become a zombie-zone feeding frenzy. a secret garden would be the ultimate in preparedness.

6. whiskey/scotch/bourbon has a variety of uses – cleaning, drinking. yeah.

7. boarding up inside your home won’t help, running around during daylight is a certain disaster, and sneaking around at night is a sure bet They will get you. the only real place to wait out an apocalypse is a bunker.

8. pack a little survival bag (octavia fans know where i’m heading with this one): matches in a ziplock baggy, hand sanitizer, a flask of whiskey/scotch/bourbon, a place to write your apocalypse memoirs and something to write them with, a swiss army knife and a towel. hook that bag in some unbreakable way to your person, because you will be blown around or knocked over or attacked and lose all your stuff.

9. it is extremely rare for people of color to survive apocalypses, but if you see someone who looks like will smith, stick with that dude.

10. don’t go by yourself, don’t split up, and don’t let them leave you somewhere. don’t utter or accept the words, “i’ll be right back”. this is not the time for adventures!

as i learn more from my copious research, i will pass it along. in the meantime, pack your bag, stock your cabinets, and pray for peace.