Tag Archive for 'assata shakur'

philando loved

“my son loved this city
and this city killed my son”

the child watched
her voice was calmer than ours
and because of her eyes
because she smelled the gun smoke
and listened to death
because she tried to comfort her mother
it seemed there was a pure wrong
seemed that everyone could see
this man through child’s eyes
that this man followed the rules
that this man swallowed his dignity
and then died with it in his throat
belted in
witnessed in real time
pushed right out of his own body

we learn again and again and again
that in this nightmare, there is no rule
nothing we do in our skin is right enough
in a nation that never feels white enough
there is only fear, quivering on triggers
smashing life underfoot
justifying itself

or love, learning to hold tight
and then learning to govern
without obliteration
of anyone’s wholeness
all of us ignorant in at least one direction
and yet holding each other
pale knuckles and pounding hearts

daily we have more proof,
more reason to be afraid
and more cause to “love each other
and protect each other,
we have nothing to lose”
we have nothing to lose

we have nothing more to lose
than our very selves
let’s lose this not enough no good
bloody mess of a nation
let’s lose any borders within which
justice cannot prosper
let’s become a sanctuary species
let us love a place
and do more than survive it
let us love a place not in spite of itself
but because we are creating it

let us make a world
worthy of a child’s eyes

duty (assata)

take one of your favorite poems and find a very specific, concrete noun in it. For example, if your favorite poem is this verse of Emily Dickinson’s, you might choose the word “stones” or “spectre.” After you’ve chosen your word, put the original poem away and spend five minutes free-writing associations – other nouns, adjectives, etc. Then use your original word and the results of your free-writing as the building blocks for a new poem.

line: “it is our [[duty]] to fight for our freedom”
assata shakur

i imagine her skin
aging precious years in the sun
small cells full of her
she named the task before us
then tucked herself down in the dirt
across a salt sea

i struggle with obligation
run away from it, dancing
how i love my choices
often making questionable ones
just to say
this is my life, these are my moments

but when i hear her poem
whispered, spoken, sung, screamed
it touches the place of dreams
at the root of me
rearranging my life
to love, to protect, our freedom

a range of reflections on resilience

resilience: the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties

things i did today to recover

1. i reminded myself of something i’ve learned in life which helps me focus: things are not getting worse, they are getting uncovered. we must hold each other tight & continue to pull back the veil.

right.

2. i cried hard. woke up ugly-crying. at first i couldn’t even clearly say why i was crying, cause i knew/know all the analytical things. but i can’t deny that i feel the collective grief, the uptick of fear. the angle at which our uphill battle is being fought just got steeper.

i gave myself to the tears, and cried til i was spent. then got reiki and cried some more, letting the energy flow.

i realized that i had prepared my heart for the ache and compromise of a clinton win. but people who live all around me and all around everyone i love, and people who are related to me by blood, they came out of the woodwork in favor of someone who campaigned on violence and hatred towards everything about me and my loves.

perhaps it is in that shared blood that i feel the most pain in this moment. my ancestral line has slavery, genocide, rapists and scoundrels in it. yours too.

it also has all the people who survived and changed those stories. that means that while there is despair, i am not hopeless.

and my crying is not nostalgic, it isn’t denial – i don’t want to cling to the shore, emotionally flailing for a more comfortable, familiar narrative. right now there is justified grief and rage, my own and others, flowing through.

3. spent time with babies. in person and by video. babies who i love and feel responsible for, who reminded me to focus on learning, laughter and breasts.

4. i let myself go down a path of snarky, petty thoughts. such as:

– this election can best be summed up in the words of “Fake Love” by our neighbor Drake – “I got fake people showin’ fake love to me/Straight up to my face, straight up to my face/I can tell that love is fake/I don’t trust a word you say.”

– seriously 2/3 of voting white women – “who taught you to hate yourself?”

these thoughts did not really make me feel better, so i just let them slip by.

5. i found words that made me feel better.

“The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.” – Kahlil Gibran

“Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – MLK

“Transform yourself to transform the world.” – Grace Lee Boggs

“Wage Love” – Charity Mahouna Hicks

“The only lasting truth is change” and “There’s nothing new under the sun. But there are new suns.” – Octavia Butler

6. saw people calling this a dark time and i was like NOPE. remembered that Steven Barnes, in the alternate history classic Lion’s Blood, flipped the script of who had power. in a world where Africans held power, everything was “a pale, pale time”.

it occurs to me that this is not a dark time at all, not a dark age. it is a pale, pale time.

7. remembered that octavia told us all about this. one thing that stands out today as i view the world through swollen eyes is that i have a responsibility as an empath, to FEEL this, to let my feelings matter and guide me.

i have been reading the parables over and over in this lifetime for a reason, because there is wisdom in them, there are tangible tools for survival, for empaths and everyone else.

a few other people had the same thought at the same moment, and we are generating a discussion guide to support people reading and studying it together. join us.

8. i connected with others.

– reached out to loved ones and we texted and wrote pieces and called and facetimed and hugged our way through the day. sometime mid afternoon several of us noticed a feeling of focus, a sharpening of our work. we carry it on.

– got together with others in Detroit tonight and generated resilience. it was a simple evening – sharing our fears, reminding ourselves that fear is an intelligence, a sign to be more alert. then we shifted to remembering what helps us recover from pain and trauma. there was a lot of expanding, galaxies, oceans, trees, stillness, rocking, laughter, song. we, especially those of us who feel more overtly vulnerable today than yesterday, need each other.

9. i also did my usual resilience practices: a bath, centering, cooking (gave myself a day off of food tracking), singing really loudly, meditation, watching things (atlanta, black mirror).

and this. writing to you all. i love you. all.

<3

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

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

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

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

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

to contain us they contort their own humanity.

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

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

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

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

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

everything is fuel to us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

a season of love (for all those killed with impunity)

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

– assata shakur

first, we must love ourselves enough to believe in the fundamental rights we have to breath, to be children, to grow up, to love and protect, to walk and play and disobey, to live until we die, not because our skin scares someone empowered by the state to kill us, but because our bodies are appropriately tired from all the living and loving we did.

we must love ourselves like spring, bursting through any containers that cannot grow with us.

i freed a thousand slaves
i could have freed a thousand more if only they knew
they were slaves

– harriet tubman

second, we must love everyone who shares this lineage of being on the dark side of white supremacy. to ferociously, obstinately, loudly and unapologetically love the majority of the planet. to be unafraid to see every black and brown person as a potential comrade. because as patrisse, opal and alicia teach us, black lives matter.

we must love like summer, storming, burning off the surface, sun and rain in the same moment, double rainbow style inspirations, wildfire alchemists.

if you come here to help me
you are wasting your time
but if you come because your liberation is bound up with mine
then let us work together

– aboriginal activists group, queensland, 1970s

third, we must love those who open themselves up against the trajectory of their lineages, who learn, who teach themselves to love us when they have been socialized not to. this means loving those who benefit from a system that doesn’t love us, but work against it in their hearts, beliefs, families, jobs, and actions.

here we must love like fall, stripped down to the spare truth with each other. let the assumptions and projections that keep us from each other be bright enough in their dying to make us gasp, and then fall away – they are illusions. the construct of race is deadly, but it is still a construct. let history give us rich soil to hibernate in – each other. we need each other. we need everyone to stand up for their own humanity in this moment, advancing the work of black lives mattering on all of our divergent front lines.

love has within it a redemptive power…there’s something about love that builds up and is creative. there is something about hate that tears down and is destructive…love your enemies.
– martin luther king, jr

and finally, especially in these moments, we must work to love those who place themselves against us as our enemies, our oppressors. this doesn’t mean forgiving without due process, or allowing to move forward without accountability and critique. in fact it is the opposite, it is loving in the highest sense – compassion.

we must learn to see that the violence they walk with is, all the time, inside of them, make them so so sick. we cannot let them slip by, killing us quietly. we must put the light on them – those images of modern day lynchings, the memories of that violence that brings us to tears, to raging in the streets…that death energy is a toxic poison of guilt festering inside of those who fear and kill us, and they in turn rot our communities, our societies.

racism is a sickness, viral in our species. and it is tricky, reducing the mind that carries it to the least viable, least sophisticated of world views. if we cannot be compassionate for violently racist people, recognizing this behavior as a sickness, we are at risk of confusing their violence and control with the power we seek to gain and share.

to be the worst of humanity is not a power, it is a trauma.
to need lies and corruption to protect your power shrinks the soul.
to be the most inhumane and racist among us and be unable to receive the balm of justice, the release of a genuine apology, the embrace of other people who feel safe in your presence – it must be unbearable. i would not wish that on any human being.

for these people, mostly white men, who are pulling these triggers…for their humanity, and for our species to move beyond this fatal sickness, i want them to feel the righteous hand of justice that comes with real love. i want them to feel the kind of justice i watch the best parents in my life offer the children i live for…’because i love you, i must stop everything right now and give you my attention, to correct you, i cannot let you behave this way, hurt yourself and me and others this way. you must apologize…do you understand what you did and why?’

this kind of love stops everything, so that the violence, the misbehavior, cannot be normalized.

this kind of love yields transformative justice, it reaches all the way down to the root, the part of the wound that is tender and swollen and full of pus and smells like the end of everything. this kind of love is not saintly, it is pragmatic. it is the nurse, midwife, doula, doctor, healer, shaman, witch, magician, neighbor, sister, friend willing to touch, clean, soothe, amputate, say spells, exorcise, journey, listen and find the possibility for healing.

and in this season, this last love feels like winter. when a loved one has to turn away from the violence and leave the violator to contemplate himself, or reach like an icy wind under the collar and through the ribs, or to shut down all the systems that allow the violator to normalize his behavior, it is a cold time.

we must freeze racism and white supremacy – armed and unarmed – out of our system, give it no place to grow. the love we offer here cannot be meted out in half measures. everywhere, winter.

we are the anomaly. our actions must be as unyielding and show stopping as that wall of snow in buffalo.

and of course we know, in the cyclical intelligence of our cells, that winter is a season of abundant nourishing for the land, water piled on top of water just waiting to be swallowed. love made visible.

when you see our rage piling up, snowballing, know that it IS our love.

we have been learning to practice love in actions of collective rage, collective redistribution of resources, and collective healing. our actions stop traffic, stop business as usual, close the schools, interrupt the speeches and the holidays – we love in ways that localize our brilliance.

we divest from the system that refuses to provide justice. we love each other by investing in each other.

join the efforts in any way you can – let’s each be clear about the things we are best at, the things which give us the particular joy that comes from being in our purpose – don’t worry, it can be multiple things. do these things as part of the larger effort for black lives.

if you are a creator, create in ways that ‘wage love’, as charity hicks taught us, that challenge small thinking and uplift black lives.

if you are an organizer or an activist, fill yourself up with righteous vision, take leadership from those most directly effected, stay hydrated, and disrupt the system at every turn. ‘turn your rage into love’, as keith cylar taught us.

if you are a parent, model and speak the message ‘black lives matter’ to your children all day, and make sure to be a presence for black lives mattering in their schools, day care, everywhere.

if you are a healer, donate a day of your work’s earnings to the efforts in ferguson (december 18 is a first day that healers will be doing this, sparked by leah lakshmi piepzna-samarasinha), or answer adaku utah’s call to offer healing to those putting their bodies on the front lines.

invest your time, money and energy into black organizing, black wholeness, black arts, black lives. this battle requires every kind of action.

and yes, some of the most direct actions may seem violent, disrupting business as usual, destroying property. think of it as survival. when someone is choking, drowning, dying, the body becomes very intelligent and willing to do anything to continue. individually and collectively, we are trying everything, and we are being brilliant, so that we, and our children, survive.

because our root cause, our root purpose, is love.

this is not the beginning, this is not the end. but this moment is ours, to ‘bend the arc towards justice’. this battle is a devastating and crucial place to be intentional about how we are showing up, what we are embodying. the superpower we need to be cultivating now is love. radical, unapologetic love.

hands up, pull it down.

#nojusticenochristmas #cancelchristmas #buyblack #blacklivesmatter #blacklove