Tag Archive for 'blacklivesmatter'

pleasure in the age of [insert president elect]

if you are actively working on the election (knocking on doors, calling black voters in the south, talking to voters who feel confused, etc), thank you. remember to eat, shower and drink something other than coffee – at least twice a day. book a massage for november 9.

if you have voted already, or are waiting to vote in person, and know what your choice is (for example in Detroit you know why you are voting yes on Prop A and no on Prop B), and aren’t actively working in the election, but still find it impacting the pleasure potential of your days?

some options:

1a. if ranting and raving at people online makes you feel good, this is the week to indulge. helpful tip – when sharing any of the often terrifying and/or underwhelming news about the womEn running against candidate bump, make your recommendation for what you think people should do in the voting booth. it is more interesting to hear how people navigate the compromises than to pretend there are none.

afterwards we will all be out of the theoretical multiverse and back in some version of the same boat (an ethno-racialized hyper-gendered/abled/class segregated multiverse), so rage against whichever machine most enrages you.

1b. if ranting and raving (your own or others) makes you feel hopeless and miserable, take a social media break. write a book. read a book. i was accidentally offline most of last weekend and i felt my brain instantly nourished by the lack of incoming election-related crises.

1c. i have also curated who i follow right now – mostly checking for people who inspire and inform, with humor and fact checked sources. some favorites: alicia garza, kiese laymon, rebecca solnit, dallas goldtooth, jay smooth, taylor renee aldridge. yours?

2a. have at least one orgasm each and every day. minimum. to paraphrase mae west, an orgasm a day keeps the doctor away AND keeps everything in perspective – no matter what, right now you still have your miraculous body, made up of a complex system of pleasure sensors.

if you don’t have easy access to a lover each day, or if you do but still love the idea of buying new sex toys to use for political purposes, i recommend the womanizer (worth it), magic wand (dependable), wahl (also good for joint massages) or jimmy jane 2. use separately or all together. i’ve also heard positive reviews of the fleshlight, but can’t evangelize from experience…feel free to add your recommendations.

2b. more cuddles and more massages. hold, comfort and release each other.

3. stay hydrated and increase your exercise and mobility. polls show a 100% likelihood that some portion of us will move closer to apocalyptic conditions on nov 8, 2016. get ready!

4. focus on how incredible standing rock/#nodapl and the movement for black lives/#blacklivesmatter continue to be every day in the face of traumatizing and hard work. feel grateful to be alive at a time when you can give time, attention and money to such groundbreaking work.

5. in order to help yourself remember that whatever the outcome, y/our work continues, write a love note to your today-self from your 2020-self about the incredible work you and y/our community accomplish in the next four years.

this might include working on evolutions in the voting system like instant runoff voting so you don’t spend the next election in a fear vise about voting your values.

or not. your future self knows.

6. plan post election community healing spaces, places to notice how we are, knit ourselves back together if need be, hug on each other and focus on breath and laughter.

i will be hosting such events in oakland (11/16, 7pm solespace) and detroit (TBA) (will post events on my page)!

7. if all else fails, google michelle obama speeches (just fast forward through the ‘greatest nation’ parts, because as a reader of this blog i assume your goals for humanity are global survival, abundance and pleasure, not permanent dominance and competition) and revel in black woman magic.

let your pleasure be an act of resistance in this time of terror and distraction. as always, we are almost in the future, and this moment is almost in the past.

solange’s table

first reaction to A Seat At The Table, from Solange Knowles:

solange made a black love note album to me and you and us and new orleans and louisiana and master p and all the black people and she included zero fucks. she said this is for us and don’t touch my hair and that she is mad for a reason.

“I am a very complex, nuanced, messy, ever-evolving and changing and growing woman. I live that out through my work.”

precisely.

and she sounds like a bell in hades.

deeper listen reaction:

i drove from Detroit to Nashville to see Beyonce with my Sisters and basically listened to the whole Solange album as nutrition and scholarship. i was dipping into certain songs by putting them on single song repeat, delighting in each eddy before returning to the stream so steadily moving the way i need to go.

‘cranes in the air’ was the most played song. it is so beautiful, it sings itself all the way into our/my grief. i watched so many of my beloveds put the words up as they listened, saying this, this:

“i tried to work it away/
but that just made me even sadder/
i tried to keep myself busy/
i ran around in circles think i made myself dizzy/
i slept it away/
i sexed away”

and

“i traveled 70 states/
thought moving round make me feel better/
i tried to let go my lover/
thought if i was alone then maybe i could recover/
drive it away/
or cry it away/
(don’t you cry it baby)”

i don’t know many woke black people who won’t feel themselves in these words.

and then after these words she soars up into riperton falsetto, and we know that beautiful pain, that love pain. the album touches that pain with medicinal tones, saying we have the right:

– to be mad (in the digital booklet for this album there is a stunning piece that lists the years, then endless years (“when it’s been about a thousand years”) of black american suffering, going into the future…”i got a lot to be mad about”)

– to have boundaries (in ‘f.u.b.u.’, which starts with the delicious distinct call in to “all my niggas in the whole wide world”, she tells white folks: “don’t feel bad if you can’t sing along/just be glad you got the whole world/some shit is for us”)

– to let go (while lil wayne gives a vulnerable direct offer of this wisdom, i was deeply moved by ‘don’t wait for me’, which guides us not to “waste the time to know” people/drama that aren’t part of our journey)

– to value ourselves, not seeking the approval or investment of those who don’t understand us (mama tina and master p weave this lesson beautifully. master p is a radical griot, his every word a rejection of white supremacy. my favorite line, as a creator: “if you don’t understand my record then you don’t understand me, so this is not for you.”)

Solange names her inspirations, which show up in beautiful collage and hint in these songs.

i also hear amel larriuex, erykah badu, denice williams (thanks celeste faison for helping me find the riff), marvin gaye, bjork (the pulling back sensuality of ‘possibly maybe’), little dragon, diana ross, aaliyah, janet jackson.

i also hear the bloodline, i hear Beyonce in the root system, and deeply respect these sisters each holding such distinct spaces of creative black femme brilliance.

and then with all of those touches and flavors and notes – Solange is so herself-in-the-world, a pure sound moving like a candle through an apparently burnt out landscape, unveiling that its a lush obsidian galaxy with its own honors and rhythms.

Solange has set her own abundant black love and healing table and she is generous, inviting us to have a seat and just chill in it, soak in it, nod and grind and bump and revel in it.

i am so here for this. i give thanks to matthew and tina for what they brought into this world.

what it takes to look

this grief is profound.

the pace is so fast now – today i haven’t been able to catch up with either my life or the names and stories of black death.

no, it’s not that i couldn’t catch up, it’s that i am trying to avoid the news.

but i can feel the weight piling up against the door and i know i will open it soon with my always-soft bruised gut and let the new names pummel me.

(when should i do this?)

i stay off social media (because i believe in what i am doing and) if i open those blue apps i just see what those in blue have done and i never want to believe it, and i know that if i look towards them or i look away they will keep shooting.

but i can’t look away, but i can’t look yet.
(i’m having a good day. is that shameful? is that radical?)

but then i need to know and i want to hear it from people i trust and the door is curving towards me under the weight of black stories or just curving away from the weight of black bodies and any minute now i will know and anyways no minute is safe and these precious black bodies didn’t choose this minute ever.

on each phone call and in every space i enter i wear my #blackband but i have not whispered the newest names into its folds and i swear this wisp of cloth the color of the known universe still gets heavier on my skin.

i can hear it in black voices and see it on our faces – what if (what happens when) we can’t take anymore? what if (what happens when) i can’t take anymore? do we (can we) stagger this trauma and grief?

no.

we hold it, hold it off or hold it close or hold it in shaking hands like a defensive weapon or just hold it up saying why and what the fuck and where can we be and how do we sing our babies to sleep with this weight in our throats?

the door creaks and shudders as the full black lives bang bang bang against it and i sit here doing the shit out of my to-do list with my heart fluttering around trying to get my house in order for newborn ghosts who didn’t want to come, who only want to be home again.

i feel black grief permeate my dreams and thicken in my mouth before i even hear the news. some days even the sun is heavy, even the pale blue sky looks guilty.

when i open the door and look, it is not because i am brave. no one chooses this, no one is brave in this way. some days i run towards the sound at the door, some days i run away (away is a myth, away never lets me stay gone).

we are black bodies and the connection forged amongst us is profound – feeling each other as souls and stories, we are singular and collective grievers.

the way we survive is the only way i can open that door: unconditional love. immediately loving each new name beyond judgment, the way i know i will be loved when they swallow me up with bullets or sugar or grief or madness.

(your fucking anthems are not louder than this infinite grief, born of this infinite love.)

with a heart full of rage, i open the door. with a heart so full, i welcome terence crutcher, i welcome keith lamont scott. i welcome justin carr, killed while i was writing this. i welcome the masses, lost from us and found, become ancestors since last i looked.

i will carry the weight of you, and let it change me. we will carry the weight of all of you, and we will let it change us.

your life, your dearly beloved black life, is profound.

the news pile

each day is a pile
sliver sliver stacked against
diminishing time to know anything at all

even while we celebrate what we want
buried in the sound of our dreaming
are two deaths, or forty nine
#names we will learn later

when i hear the news beginning
i turn towards it
and then i turn away

ah but it finds me.

i double over inside
i go numb with details
maybe i gather some angry words
burn leaves to the black moon

often i go quiet against the
reading and reading
and finding no comfort rhythm
of the pile

we come together and don’t know what to say
we notice the unspeakable
we bristle, we pause
and then mostly we are kind with each other,
opening brief portals of joy
or production

no one wants to know this alone
so we speak around it, acting brave
to be the ones who look,
better than the ones who can’t look away

but we know worse than that
someone still wants this to happen
it’s too comprehensive to be accidental
across so much time

we feel the gathering weight

our mouths are full of sweet things
and then empty again
we cry until even our tears are sugar
and our faces hardly move

but grieving is not enough
we must also be warriors
whose weapon is our heart
expanding, billowing out
to hold it all

another pound
another pound of #tragic
and there’s nothing to say
and no air to speak it
under the pile
the fucking pile

– #korryngaines #skyemockabee #joycequaweay #blacklivesmatter #blacktranslivesmatter

from the freedom side

when the wheat is separated from the chaff, i wonder if there is terror. if the wheat thinks it is god when actually it is food. if the chaff thinks it is the future, part of a wholeness, when actually it is a husk.

trump and those who scream his name with their hands just seconds away from a heil hitler, they think they are the wheat of this country, of this moment.

we who believe in freedom, liberation, being in right relationship with justice and with land – we are looking to see what this country is, if it can heal from its bloody roots. can we nourish each other or should we fly away on the wind?

we are taking and supporting direct actions and interventions of all sizes to assert a future with dignity for all of us on this soil.

this moment is a ‘which side are you on’ moment, not to be divisive about it. on one side we learn to heal and transform our base human nature, become worthy of the miracle of our existence, and we inhabit our freedom. on the other side is neverending war and terror. passivity, politeness, noncommitment, that will place you squarely in the latter future.

there is no such thing as neutral ground. there never has been.

#blackband: how to, a reflection

#blackband: how to, a reflection

i am just over a week into the practice of wearing a black band on my left arm as a statement of grief, and as a statement against white supremacy in all it’s manifestations.

it’s been a beautiful, simple practice so far. people either already know why i am doing it or, when they hear my reason, vigorously agree with my rationale.

i have had people ask me questions about how to participate in #blackband, so here are some answers (with the caveat that i am learning the practice as i go):

1. where do i get a #blackband?

i made mine from old leggings. other friends have made bands from t-shirts and bandanas, or taken black ribbon or hair bands or bracelets and created their bands. my friend sabrina, a detroit artist, drew hers on with permanent marker. my friend adela showed me the black band of one of her sacred tattoos that inspired me to consider that for my next step.

i love the DIY nature of this so far. it was a deeply personal commitment for me to don a black band, and making/finding my band, imbuing it with intention, feels like part of the strength and magic in it.

2. where do i wear it?

left side of body, closest to your heart. i have been wearing mine around my left arm just above or just below my elbow.

you can wear it right on skin or over clothes – visibility is important.

if you don’t have a left arm or wearing it on your arm isn’t possible, wear it on your left leg. if you don’t have a left leg or wearing it on your leg isn’t possible, pin a black circle to your left side, near the heart.

wear it to all of your life, in transit, at work, in sacred spaces. let your resistance be constant.

3. i have my band on. now what?

once i had my band on, i invited conversation around it. i let my friends, family and y’all know what i was doing and why. now i answer strangers who ask about it, pointing them to resources for more information based on their entry point – black folks i point towards ongoing movement for black lives work, non-black people I point towards amazing solidarity work. i invite them to join me if they are tired/devastated by white supremacy and constant grief.

it’s been interesting to hear the responses – a few black folks have said their skin is their black band, and others have said it feels important as a black person in a professional environment to wear the black band to counter the way white supremacy wants to normalize the trauma.

some of my friends indulge me in what they see as my practice, others take it on. i am not pushing it on people, i am inviting us to make visible our resistance in a world that wants to silence us with fear.

i do notice that each time i see someone take it on i feel a bit safer. audre lorde taught us “your silence will not protect you.” the black band feels like a vocalization and harmony.

3. so…can non-black people wear a blackband? can white people wear it?

absolutely!

i wasn’t really thinking about this part when i committed to wearing the black band, but lots of non-black people have been asking me about it and rocking the black band and it feels really important and comforting to see non-black people visibly making a statement against white supremacy and anti-blackness.

it’s an emergent win.

for non-black #blackband-ers i would ask a few things:

– that you pair the wearing of the band with a monthly/sustainer donation to BOLD, blacklivesmatter, byp100, or other groups affiliated with the movement for black lives. support local work led by black people. (donations of any size count – $5 a month from a million nonblack people would really increase what our movements can do and i believe there are more than a million nonblack people who are against white supremacy in this country)

– for white people especially: be ready to be transformed. look to the thorough analytical work of catalyst or the action network of surj for other practices to be in to unlearn white supremacy.

– and if you haven’t yet, bring it up to friends and family explicitly. have the conversations i can’t have with your parents and grandparents, with your kids.

4. how long are you wearing the black band?

i don’t know yet. it may be the rest of my life. i need to see explicit and significant advances of justice and liberation for my people. a lot of people have to wake all the way up to make those advances real. i see the black band as a small daily direct action that helps to turn up the volume on that ‘white supremacy is over’ alarm. i suspect when it is no longer needed, we will all know.

below are images of three people wearing the band – taylor renee aldridge, aurora levins morales, erin ní chonaill, paury flowers, chelsea cleveland, and leah lakshmi piepzna-samarasinha (in black lace!!):

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‘all lives matter’ is the sickness of white supremacy spoken aloud

today #blacklivesmatter is three years old. so is BYP100. it is a blessed day for black people.

and a tragic one. a year ago today, we learned that Sandra Bland had died in police custody. we watched a video to get to know her, to grieve. and we watched her do what we would have done in her circumstances, and then she was gone and we had to quietly, privately imagine what we will never know about her last hours.

and that day, and that week, and even today, after a week like last week, people ask, “but don’t all lives matter?”

oh i see, i see it now
it’s because the way you feel
about your skin
is that it is the center of the world

because it is so cleansweetfairlightbright and pale
so dazzling-as-the-sun to you
that to speak of yourself
you must climb a stairway
and a ladder slid tall and ever away
to a platform
up a pedestal
mount a throne
don a crown
and you must even put your face on the deities
and – actually, no, there can only be one –
a white one with flowing hair
in three persons
but all of them blonde
and vengeful
and so on

you project, you hallucinate,
you shoot.
you shoot to kill.
blackness a blank slate to you
chalk lines your grand art

supremacy is a lens
no it is a sickness
no. – yes! – right?
it is an overlay
between your dreams and the world
between your fears and the entire world

for anyone else
and i mean anyone who
receives the sun differently from you
to say, to feel
‘i love myself
i love my children’
from your height
we are running at you with bayonets
with machetes
with the guns you adore
coming to take all the future from you
and everything else

but you want us to be one with you while we are dying

but when we live and walk
and breathe and play and mother father
and dance and drive and breathe
and breathe
and just breathe?
you are so terrified
you bend everything to distortion

gullible activism

hi loves!

writing this as a gullible person, just in case there are any other people like me who tend to get excited first (especially about opportunities to build the movement for black lives) and ask questions never (or at least not until someone else is like wait but who/what/when/where/why/how sway?)

here is the black lives matter website: http://blacklivesmatter.com/.

if you get a chain letter for top secret strategies via text, or a multi-point platform, or things like that, and you get excited cause it says it’s BLM…do what i am learning to do and go check the website.

generally i find if it’s not there, it’s not us/them.

you can still do ‘it’ or be inspired, because yes this is a decentralized brilliant black time!

but be informed. and ‘move at the speed of trust’.

during this complex time i am looking to support and take leadership from experienced on-the-ground organizers who have a wide range of tactical and strategic capacity from communications to direct action to scaling up to rooting deep. and right now those folks seem to be in leadership and community accountability with BOLD, BLM, Blackout and BYP100.

i am excited about growing into formation – i also have a million ideas a minute and its exciting to put those ideas out there. but it is suspicious when folks put the name of an organization on a call to action and neither local nor national leadership know about those calls to action. my savvy friends know to ask – who is served by this action? who initiated the call?

so that’s it, just a heartfelt PSA for the gullible and righteous!!

xoxo
gullible and righteous

pulling back the veil

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black band

i am going to begin wearing a black armband on my left arm, closest to my heart, to indicate that i am a warrior in mourning.
that #blacklivesmatter to me.
that i recognize i am of a targeted nation inside a violence-addicted nation.

i am so moved by and so grateful for the work of #blacklivesmatter, the blackout collective, BYP100, black organizing for leadership and dignity (BOLD) and so many others working to generate actions for our liberation. (give money to each of those groups if you are at a loss of what to do. redistribute a portion of your salary to their work. for serious.)

and…we can’t hope that these currently under resourced formations will just do all the work for everyone. we all need to act. we need a tipping point of brave people willing to move out of complicit silence into action. (yes, i am saying that the resistance in your head or even in righteous conversation between you and a few friends is not enough – honey i wish it were. no one wants to feel all of this and do all of this. but we are in a moment of genocide and anthropocene and we must take ourselves seriously.)

we need all kinds of action – direct action, organizing, healing, strategizing, redistribution. grieving is an action. feeling is an action.

and solidarity. not “ally” solidarity, but solidarity and action by non-black people who recognize we are in one struggle for humanity.

one action is actually being public and open about our resistance, to say we see what is happening and we say no more, not today, never again, stop. we see beyond what is happening and we know love must win.

so. i want to wear what i need – a black circle, a wholeness.

as i cut up a pair of black leggings to make my armband i felt all the things i am longing for. this isn’t what everyone who wears the armband may mean, but i wanted to share.

mervyn marcano posted #blaxit the other night and i thought – ‘yes!!’ and then, ‘but seriously how do we divest from this system of genocide?’

i want to stop paying the percentage of taxes that goes to police, ICE and military forces – to defund this perversion of justice and invest in community models, mediation and healing spaces.
i want to pull all the babies out of schools that teach them they are more than or less than anyone else – either with sloppy histories or preferential treatment and funding of education.
i want a landless workers movement to secure farmland. i want my hands in some dirt – i want octavia butler’s acorn and earthseed.
i want all my money to go to people who love me, love us.
i want the precious earth to be a shared precedent that unifies our decision making.

i want all white people to catch up to the white people i hold close to me, who show me what is possible – those who never make me wonder about our equality, who never say all lives matter, who never ask me to carry the weight of their learning and unlearning.
i want to banish any white people who don’t get it, and who aren’t working on unlearning racism, from my life and the lives of everyone i love (you don’t have the range).

i want significant work stoppage across the country every time our lives are stolen because someone imagined we were dangerous to them. our money matters, our labor matters.

i want people to know when they see me that i am to be treated like a griever and like a warrior and like a healer and nothing less. i want us to come out in our grief and radical commitment to liberation.

this is bigger than police killing of black people – this band is my public declaration of war on white supremacy in all it’s manifestations, including racialized capitalism, colonialism, difference-phobia, gun fetishes, violence as a way of resolving conflict – all of it.

it is also my public vulnerability – i grieve every time i see humanity turned against itself, i feel it. and i believe it is part of my life’s work to feel it and turn others towards feeling it, to un-numb us so that we realize we are on fire. i am not going to keep adjusting and maintaining the social status quo. i am angry and numb and overwhelmed and terrified. i am mourning and trying to step into the shoes of all my newborn ancestors. i need it to be known. i need the world to interact with me with more awareness.

in studying public signs of mourning this one seems most appropriate and accessible. it has also been a sign of protest and political affiliation at times. i think we need it to be both for grief and for resistance. i also know i would feel safer in a world where those who stood against the genocide of my people were visible to me.

i recognize i may be wearing this armband for the rest of my life. i keep thinking of the length of slavery, how not being the property of a white person seemed equal parts necessary and impossible for generations and generations. not being the target of police, ending white supremacy and racialized capitalism feels impossible to me now…but it feels absolutely necessary.

all the love i walk with only lets me move in one direction, towards our liberation.

join me.

#blacklivesmatter #blackband #blaxit

blackband

(and yes, join in all my non-black and international beloveds, especially those being targeted too – this week i have cried for so many people and places all over and i feel our togetherness in our resistance even if we start from different locations. i wear this band with love for palestine, syria, bangladesh, turkey, brazil, iraq – and that’s just this week. together we are the future.)