Tag Archive for 'lynnee denise'

things i think i said at eso won books

the other night i got to do an artist talk at eso won books, in leimert park los angeles. super grateful to cultural shapeshifter lynnee denise from international locals who organized the event, which included an artist talk with the sci fi writer nature grrrrl homey lisa bolekaja, and a book signing. it felt like a portal opened up, and i said some things. below are those things. afterwards i got to sign their big book of famous signatures where octavia butler’s signature from 2005 was on the first page! then i was told that one of my future wives, queen latifah, had just purchased octavia’s brood the night before.

!!!

so here are some thoughts:

as you do anything, as you write new stories, you are either moving towards justice or away. there is not a neutral space actually, you’re either perpetuating the existing paradigm of power, or you are disrupting it. that’s why visionary fiction is important, fiction that intentionally disrupts existing paradigms of oppression.

writing sci fi, writing futures we want, is a mindfulness practice. we need mindfulness practices to intentionally grow a future up through our collective and familiar cycles of trauma.

time is non-linear – octavia butler’s stories or nina simone’s music are good proof of this, as relevant now as when they were writing and singing it.

(in response to a question around what and how we create in a world that doesn’t want to acknowledge and celebrate our work…referencing hugos, world fantasy, oscars, etc, i stood up and turned around and said:) look at me. look at my body. i don’t have a body that is seen and affirmed in the mainstream space. i see some reference to it now in people like nicki minaj, but still nothing quite like all of this. so learning to love my body has been choice after choice after practice. it has included self documentation, self pornography, not engaging lovers who want my body to change, learning how i like to look and feel, learning what health is for me. my mind is as divergent from the mainstream as my body is. all of our minds are. which means we can’t look to mainstream systems for affirmation and approval – that’s why we created octavia’s brood. that’s why there are anthologies, and malkia cyril’s work and center for media justice are fighting to keep the web accessible to all, so we have room to create our own spaces and celebrate ourselves. our self love and full realization are dangerous to the mainstream.

capitalism has skewed what we think is enough. everything doesn’t have to be huge bestseller on mainstream markets for everyone. figure out who you want to reach and measure success against that.

we have rituals for collective trauma – we spread the word, and our outrage, on social media where you have to be careful, the trauma is on auto play. we create a hashtag and seek justice and take action and then when justice is often not send we have a next round of grief. we listen to music and sing and numb ourselves. we have less ritual for collective healing. black zen teacher angel kyodo williams pointed that out to me, how technology is connecting our pain so fast, but we have to develop the individual and collective capacity not just to respond, but to evolve together beyond this paradigm.

(in response to a question of the difference between black sci fi and afrofuturism). i see black sci fi as a literal thing, black people doing sci fi – it includes anything, can be the regular old tropes, action narratives, can be conservative, heteronormative, misogynist, etc. whereas afrofuturism to me implies a worldview beyond the western paradigm, being explicitly distinct, born from a different perspective from the mainstream white male American sci fi stuff.

create create create. find people to read your work and get feedback and let people see and hear and engage the part of the future you hold.

Was it me that changed or you?

This week I’m running around NYC, working and experiencing the city with my sweetheart.

It feels different again. When I first came to the city I’d loved it for years already, reveled in the idea of being a New Yorker as I was coming of age. When I left it was with a sense of having given it everything I had. For years after that visits to NYC would find me trying to catch a deeper breath, befuddled by the changes, missing my New York.

This trip feels heart opening. My partner Lynnee Denise is part of a series of events that the great bell hooks is curating at the New School, which includes conversations with Laverne Cox, Cornell West, Samuel Delaney, and others. bell is riveting, very human, very dynamic, fierce and curious. So far the conversations have been hilarious and insightful and necessary. Sitting in a space with minds like these, with participants like Deborah Willis, is quite intoxicating for the part of spirit that is constantly evolving. I am reminded that there are still original points to be made in conversations around sexuality, queer theory, fabulousness, body love vs shame, healing, patriarchy, relationship, transformation and healing.

The thing that still blows my calendar out of order is the sheer number of magnificent people to connect with. On top of the usual plethora of beloveds, several dear friends happen to be visiting NYC at the same time we are. New York visits require days of open time for the spontaneous love affairs and reconnections. Or a full return. Thrilling, daunting, but possible again after almost a decade away.

I’m also working with a long-term client, the Correctional Association. I really respect their work, their hearts and spirits and dedication to growing. We’re experimenting with a fusion of traditional and emergent strategic planning and I am learning a ton.

Everything changes. I am excited to feel a little home again here.

i move therefore i am

i just completed moving out of the detroit apartment i have lived in for five years. i moved into the apartment directly above it, with my sweetheart. i learned some things during this move.

1. five years is actually a major chunk of a life. one seventh of my life thus far. so much happened in that home. when i started to let the memories come, tears flooded my face and i had to stop and catch my breath. the heart is so much more resilient than the mind. my mind cannot handle my life at all, but my heart cannot forget even the smallest instance. i remember the first time my niece siobhan visited – holding her in the dark in the living room because she wouldn’t sleep and my sister needed rest in the desperate way only new mothers know. i remember lunch meetings with charity. i remember each of the sci-fi writing salons. i remember love, heartbreak, healing, love, growth, healing, love. yoga. and learning who i was, in conversations, in that place between midnight and dawn, in that space. writing stories that i thought were brilliant and stories that i knew were horrid. needing a sabbatical, taking it, coming home, leaving, coming home, leaving, coming home – i have been the heartbeat in that little wood and brick flesh. it took the better part of a year for me to be ready to let it go.

2. i am a virgo. not that i have doubted it. but it is amazing to feel the righteousness of organization in my heart – the thrill of an empty closet or cabinet, the titillation of seeing a perfect layout behind my eyes. yes, there are other ways to do things. but it is amazing to feel the ‘right’ way like a bell ringing inside! i want to send a special love shout out to my partner because…i cannot imagine trying to land in a new space next to such wild perfection.

3. i have a thing for: matches, stationary and any other kind of paper including post-it notes, sage, sci-fi books, most other books, small decorative elephants, sentimental vhs tapes/dvds/cds, images of beyonce, unread books related to buddhism, candles that seem to have lost their wicks, emotive collages, magazines that hold the potential of collage, shoes and jewelry that i never wear but absolutely display as art, postcards, things my family members gave me, frozen homemade soups, turquoise nail polish, ginger dusting powder from lush (seriously does anyone want some of this? i took it too seriously when they discontinued this stuff, forgetting that i too would change), chopsticks, mugs, and anything that could be considered an altar item.

4. i am overwhelmed. my birthday is coming up (and all i want is to know people read this stuff sometimes, so become a member at any level if this crosses your line of sight) and there has been so much change this year – death and new life and love and health and all the biggest things. i have been pretty sure i was overwhelmed for a little while now, but the move really brought to light how deeply i can only do one thing at a time right now. i apologize to everyone who i was supposed to communicate with or do something for during this time. working to meditate, be in my body, and write daily. working to travel less, cook more, sleep deeper, breathe deeper, slow down. this home will help with each of those pieces of work.

5. it is good to shed. our whole lives become skins we wear. if we don’t grow, life can become this mess we are trying to fit into. i have outgrown the self i was in my old home. i will outgrow the self i am now with any luck.

6. i have abundance, i have a bathtub!!!, i am grateful, and that is all i actually need.

love life

there is a lot of love in my life right now. some moments i look around and all i see and feel is love, everywhere.

i just spent the weekend in the house with the babies and autumn and sam, while all around us it rained and the mosquitos came out and minnesota was being very beautiful. sam made us a feast, taught us an italian card game, and was as always just a fascinating man to be around – he makes me feel better about men altogether. autumn blows my mind, the smartest most on point mama i have ever known. i am so grateful for her friendship and sistership.

it was siobhan’s birthday, and she is Four now, and was in a state of exclamation and clarity the whole weekend. she is a delightful gorgeous self-directed child who loves puddles, creating and reading books about her own life. she shrieked with joy to receive new ballet slippers after wearing her last pair out – not dancing, but just as the right shoe to wear around the house. she says no easily and loves to be a goofy middle sister. she entertains, she is developing her coy side.

finn is five going on sixty and he is full of wonder and connection to the natural world. he made friends with a toad he named hopleg, and a turtle with a long tale who finn talked with about the importance of getting across the road. his imagination paired with his love of facts makes him excellent company. he likes to be the first one to my bed in the morning, which sometimes means a 5:30 wake up call – he likes the alone time to discuss his dreams and the day to come. he is a bit obsessive over angry birds, but can be assuaged somewhat with creating angry bird art or looking at real birds. his emotional presence is humbling, he feels everything and hides nothing and it’s inspiring and makes me want to build a house around him where only kind people can enter whenever he goes out in the world.

mairead is sixteen months old, smells sweet, is a quick and skilled dancer doing diaper drops when the beat comes in…and she’s just a fantastic person. she giggles, screams in joy, knows exactly what she wants and will not be fooled. she understands there is humor in troublemaking and often moves her fastest when she realizes she can create a major mess. she has deep conversations with bran the dog, has no patience for dresses. and when she is ready to snuggle there is nothing so magical as her soft weight and warmth, her skilled way of tucking her head under an adult chin.

going away from them gets harder and harder, but in the best way. i don’t want to miss the new words they learn, the moment of clicking through from putting letters together to reading, or learning to swim. they are so much fun and they love me easily, without attachment or expectation.

it is also gemini season, many of my dearly beloveds are celebrating. i am not an easy person to be friends with – i travel a lot and barely keep my schedule together, i forget important things, i like to be alone. so i deeply appreciate those people who stay through it all and keep loving me and holding me close. gemini seem to have a special ability to do this with almost no guilting.

my friend janine at harvard, radical mama, one of the sharpest thinkers and most precise poets i know; my love dani, blogging pieces we need on women and reproductive health for the nation and being the place where bullshit must stop and surrender; brilliant education scholar and writer and soon-to-be mama adriana; prolific musician daddy joshua gabriel. there are so many in my life, so i generally experience this as a second birthday season, with gratitude.

and then today is my first anniversary with lynnee denise. we began our conversation, our love scholarship, last year on this day. she reached out to me in response to this post, and i saw a picture and leaned in.

i mean, have you seen her?

and from our first exchanges it has been a significant journey, with both of us in mutual wow, humbled by how much we needed to grow to face each other. and we grow, reflect, learn. we don’t coast, we fly as the result of realizing again and again we have wings and jumping off of ever higher heights. i am a better human because of her, more connected to myself, to the life i am meant to live, to what freedom i have to choose my life. i know the capacity i have to create and change and give.

that post that caught her heart begins with this poem:

Don’t surrender your loneliness so quickly.
Let it cut more deep.
Let it ferment and season you
as few human or even divine ingredients can.
Something missing in my heart tonight
has made my eyes so soft
my voice so tender
my need of god
absolutely clear.
–Hafiz

and i just wanted to offer here that i think all of the love i am experiencing now is a result of my beautiful loneliness, the time i have spent in my life cultivating my love for myself, and my love of all that is divine in the world outside of romance.

that loneliness wavers in and out of aloneness, the experience of being satisfied with your own existence in the world, not as a reflection, but as a miracle in real time. my osho deck says ‘aloneness is the presence of oneself. aloneness is very positive. it is a presence, overflowing presence. you are so full of presence that you can fill the whole universe with your presence and there is no need for anybody.’

that aloneness has deepened my presence as an aunt, as a friend, and raised the standards of what i would receive and could offer as a lover. all of this abundant love in my life springs up from within, something in me opens to the presence of god-is-change all around me. i can rest in it, open in it, set the right boundaries and invite that which is not love to move along, i can be more honest, be more present, be humbled by all that is beyond my reach, be humbled by all that i can touch and how precious it is.

my life is green everywhere. love is what comes when i let myself blossom.

reflections on the octavia e. butler celebration at spelman

i am still glowing and full from last week’s octavia e. butler celebration at spelman. the event was the second one hosted by the humble and brilliant patternmaster tananarive due, the horror/sci-fi writer who held the cosby chair at the college these past two years (and who i am thrilled to call my writing coach this year).

last march, tananarive invited friends and colleagues of octavia’s together to reflect, share work, converse and celebrate octavia’s life and impact. writers and thinkers like samuel r. delany, nalo hopkinson, nisi shawl, steven barnes, lynnee denise, jewelle gomez and sheree thomas sat together and honored their friend and ancestor. i wasn’t able to make it, but watched hungrily from afar.

tananarive focused this year’s event on arts and activism, rooted in her own background as the daughter of civil rights activists. when she invited me i couldn’t fully believe it. i said yes much the way i once said yes to going on the space mountain ride at disney world – OF COURSE I WANT TO DO THAT!!, not thinking until later what that might actually be like as an experience.

over the months between the invitation and the event, tananarive told me she was also inviting nnedi okorafor. then dream hampton and bree newsome. then junot diaz. then john jennings. other than bree, i had buried myself in each person’s work. dream is a close detroit comrade. they are all masters in their respective crafts.

i got very very nervous.

knowing i would be near nnedi and junot particularly made me feel like i was about to be upside down in the dark of an unknown depth. i entered a comfortable denial mode wherein i just didn’t think about it.

then a little over a month ago i was at astroblackness in l.a. and nnedi was there, as well as nalo, john, tananarive and steven. they were all quite normal nerdy cool fresh people. i observed nnedi’s presence, knowing we’d share panel space soon, and with the luxury of being unknown to her. she is a striking and direct speaker – perhaps a little uncomfortable with the attention her brilliance brings, but also wanting to be as precise in her talks as she is on her pages. my nervousness around her became excitement. i wanted more time around her present-moment mind.

now i was only in denial about junot. and the live streaming – did i mention that? the whole thing was sent out to the world and the galaxy in real time. no wardrobe glitches or tripped over words allowed.

my honey lynnee denise was in town, in an alignment of magic she spoke at spelman a few days earlier at the toni cade bambara scholars/writers/activists program at the women’s research center. she kept me in my body and feeling cared for throughout the week, for which i am deeply grateful.

In terms of the event, everything was awesome.

it started off with a black sci fi film festival with piece after piece that inspired and moved me. dream’s video for theesatifaction’s ‘queen’ showed, a gorgeous expression of radical black queer beauty and fashion. there was a short film critiquing spelman’s founders’ day through a magical realism lens. there was a sci fi interactive movie/game about the work of depersonalizing and battling ‘dark forces’ that get inside us, which was funky and spoke to so much of what i have been working through in my own life. bree’s short film ‘wake’ showed, totally creepy and beautiful – it was exciting to experience her work before we met and shared the panel space. then tananarive and steven’s ‘danger word’, a short take on a zombie film, had me in tears – excellent efficient storytelling. the festival closed with pumzi, a short film out of kenya which i have seen a few times and find stunning and challenging. the way the lead character loves her planet always opens me up.

after a short break, tananarive and nnedi gave a reading in the museum, which was full of renee stout’s stunning ‘house of the conjure woman’ exhibit. it was the perfect backdrop for their words. tananarive read from the good house, which i just finished this morning. she read in the voice of the book’s magic ancestor, a part of the book i hadn’t gotten to yet. i am learning so much from her about research, place, description, story arc, and how important the characters are, outside of the horror, science and technology.

nnedi read from her new adult novel lagoon, and as she read she took us into this vibrant world she has created. i downloaded the book immediately and am excited to get into it.

at the end of the event, tananarive said that junot had slipped in the back. i didn’t turn around, but my denial ended abruptly. he was here! so was bree, and the gifted artist john jennings, who is doing the cover of octavia’s brood. so were dream, nnedi and her daughter, tananarive and her father, lynnee, soraya and sage from the NOLA wildseeds coven, a group connected to the octavia butler and emergent strategy work. so was my old friend samirah from college, who is now a textile/fabric artist living in atlanta, who reminded me i had basically been like this since school. and bill campbell, an internet friend for years who i had never met in person. and so was shamika, a new facebook friend who had flown down from NY to connect with all of us. people were texting and tweeting as they prepared to watch from afar.

the pattern was gathering.

shortly before we went up, as i finally frantically gathered my thoughts, tananarive reminded me that she wanted me to do one of the grounding exercises i’d told her about, instead of just a talking intro. all of the sudden emergent strategy flooded my system and i lost my nervousness. i only had to do what i loved and be myself.

junot diaz came over and became just junot, a human with a wicked smile, bad back, and brilliant mouth that talks in essays and curses. dream was there, covered in sparkles. we were all there because of our shared love of octavia.

exhale, be here. i landed in the moment of it, in my body.

a group of spelman and morehouse students opened us with a reading of earthseed verses. then the speakers took the stage. i went first, and had folks stand and do a meditation and sharing around the Octavia’s earthseed concept ‘all that you touch, you change.’ i asked them to share what they are in this world to change, and to manifest it with one other person in the room. i referenced octavia’s brood and emergent strategy to ground the work.

the other panelists introduced themselves with a variety of love stories about octavia and her impact on them. junot and dream both shared what it was like to read her work as it was coming out. john spoke about coming to her work as a visual artist, and how he is in the process of doing a comic book adaptation of kindred. nnedi spoke about her friendship with octavia, and how they corresponded about world events, including 9/11, and octavia’s disdain for bush. bree spoke about the impact of octavia on her creative and activist work.

the q&a that followed had us speaking on the new intelligence of social media and how to use it as a way to connect people for social justice, the blackness of outer space, sci-fi and theology, how to make sci-fi work and ideas more accessible – including changing who is seen as a creator, and using image and film to tell stories. we were asked whether we wanted to write about a world beyond race (most of us said a resounding no…for me identity is one of the most interesting ways we evolve and layer), what themes emerge in our work (i said pleasure!), and how to deal with the fear of changing the world with our writing. the audience was lovely, alert, leaning forward.

i notice that spaces created around octavia feel sacred to me, always.

the next day i got to hold a circle around octavia and emergent strategy. it was an intimate group of about twelve people – students, professors, cultural strategists, artists. tananarive’s father john stephens due was there, which was awesome. elders bring such value, and he has been doing social justice work for over fifty years. he jumped in and played with the ideas of emergence and sci fi.

i introduced emergent strategy and had people personalize it for their lives. it was beautiful to hear what came out as folks talked about being more intentional, interdependent, transformative, adaptive, decentralized, fractal and creating more possibilities in their lives and work.

i deeply believe in the work i am getting to do these days. i think it is a path that will liberate many paths, and i think i am merely a conduit, a gathering place for the ideas to marinate and continue.

i am being shaped, i am shaping.

Beyonce: album review

it’s a straight up lie to call this a review when it’s a turned-out-last-night style love note. however, ‘i’m a grown woman’ and thus ‘can do whatever i want.’

i woke up this morning to the new self-titled Beyonce album because my beloved loves me right.

within a few hours i had bought it for her too.

i worked hard all day knowing that i was going to be with Her 17 new videos this evening.

now i just finished watching Beyonce’s visual album, which She released with no press, all at once, as if we could handle that. but i’m stepping up to the challenge, i am actually letting the love i feel for Her flow through my whole self.

highlights are too plentiful to be a useful frame here. this is about an explosion of love, of Bey loving us and letting us love Her, giving us both a futuristic form of musical release AND a throwback monocultural experience, at least much closer to one than any other artist has done recently in a positive way.

i tweeted that my love for Beyonce feels sacrilegious, miraculous, infinite, inappropriate and healing. and yes of course it’s been building for some time now, but with this album She makes me feel good about being myself in these specific ways:

being exactly my shape
being a feminist
being a futurist
being a fashionista
being a partner to a peer
being unapologetically a boss at the work i’m on earth to do
being a virgo
being sure And full of doubt
being a shape shifter
being sexually brilliant
being dramatic
being international
being vulnerable
being in a state of constant growth
being a cultural change agent
being a pleasure activist who knows how to get down properly…not just still, but more than ever
being a lady, a bitch, a freak, a lover, a gift
being alive right now

there are more things, but the point i want to make here is that She manages to both be changing the game constantly while also making that Bey feeling somehow universal. i saw Her in concert last summer and it blew me away to see the gorgeous self-expression of the audience, the way we moved in Her presence. we all elevated our own best efforts to come be in Her presence.

sigh. just reveling in that memory for a second.

with this album, also, the love in Her life is such a crucial part of Her narrative – She lets us feel how She is being changed, challenged, complicated, held and grown by the passion and partnership She practices.

i think the potential results of this album are myriad: better albums from Her would-be peers, better sex, better fashion, more complex ideas of what power looks like, and what mamas look like, and wives, and divas. also more babies, slower seductions, better dancing, less policing of how we are women, more excitement about art as controversial ground to grow society, less fear.

the album is worth this love without the videos. then the videos are fantastic. the throwback videos of baby Bey are tender. the inclusion of family, friends, Her Bey world, is so right and generous.

i gifted it today to women i love because it’s the right thing to do.

i am so grateful i am capable of loving this way. thank you so much Beyonce. thank you.

i woke up like this!
i woke up like this.
flawless.

slave songs (on renisha mcbride, 12 years a slave, beloved)

i don’t want to write about renisha mcbride. i don’t want to know her story.

last week i saw 12 years a slave, and then beloved. it was an intense week in my body.

after 12 years i wanted to crawl into another skin that felt somehow further from, or alien to, what i had just watched and felt. as a multiracial person i watched it feeling everything, the whip on my back and the whip in my hand. all my people have lived in south carolina for generations, you know? i want to know these ancestral memories and i don’t.

after 12 years i wanted to be quiet with my blackness, quiet around black people, in black spaces far from the dangerous suburbs. i couldn’t move to a place of even having an opinion on the film…i was shook. because it felt true. through the hollywood lens, and the phallic frame of finding singular male stories through which to tell all of history, i still felt the pain of women, mothers, sexualized slave bodies, radically unfair circumstances, allies, and legacy, the legacy of slavery this country is still holding so tightly.

and it was powerful to watch beloved again so soon after 12 years. perhaps even necessary. i had seen and read beloved before, years ago, but was unfamiliar with the 12 years story. i watched both movies with my lover/scholar/friend lynnee. she framed beloved, which is a horror story, as an examination of a tenderness of storytelling, how do we tell the ugly truth in a beautiful dignified way? toni morrison took this story into her thorough speculative hands and shaped something immensely humanizing, focused on a powerful and complex female protagonist, where the black love and survival and even madness left a feeling of empowerment in us when it was finished. she indicts white supremacy – as we watch sethe stand in that shed we understand what happened to her, what slavery was. this time around, with children in my life, that scene was even more devastating than it was the first time.

so my mind has been returning to the scenes of both movies, wanting to write.

and then 19-year-old renisha mcbride was shot in dearborn. i didn’t see it at first, my friend dream has been posting about and organizing around it. renisha, from what i’ve gathered, was a young black woman who got in a car accident and was seeking help. instead of being seen as a human seeking aid, she was taken for a potential robber. an unarmed robber knocking on a front door in the middle of the night. so she got shot in the face? and as i write this no charges are being brought against her zimmerman, but pressure is mounting as more of us reluctantly say and write and scream her name for the first time.

it all feels deeply connected, to me.

from the first day we were brought here, until today in this obamajayzoprah era, it is still such a dangerous thing to be black – and let’s be precise, most every other shade of brown – in the wrong place in this country. and the wrong place is wherever there is sufficient fear and arms. the borders are invisible, because they are internal – if you fear us for any reason, you can shoot us to death and the word ‘justified’ will become your armor for the remainder of your shameful life.

before learning renisha’s name, 12 years already had me thinking about the modern day spaces where race and ethnicity are used to justify capturing, enslaving, disappearing, torturing, and/or eliminating people. i was thinking about guantanamo bay, about migrant workers and immigrant families, about the survival of palestinians and somalis which gets narrated as terrorism, about our industry of prisons and punishment.

watching a slave balance on his toes as he hung just so from a tree, as others moved about their day, i thought of herman wallace in solitary confinement, and of waterboarding – i already couldn’t stay in the past.

lynnee’s scholarship of late has focused on nina simone, and she just unearthed this line, ‘slavery has never been abolished from america’s way of thinking.’ it is a trauma, toxic in the soil. mostly we don’t want it to be this way, we want to be ‘post-racial’. but we shoot babies in the face, and over skittles, because we are not post racial. we are not even post traumatic. we are in an active, sustained state of ongoing trauma, and that state has no borders.

and it’s hard, because most of the time i think white people, particularly white people with southern roots, should be terrified. because of what their ancestors did, and what karma might be justified to demand as recourse. but black people aren’t out here raging against white people and exacting revenge in place of reparations. we barely engage in any kinds of social movements at this point, to our detriment. but we are being presidents, we are railing against glass ceilings in high fashion culture on the jimmy kimmel show, we are falling in love, we are working for ford motor company when they’ll hire us, our social justice efforts may be small but they are fierce – we are working to shape a society to somehow see our humanity even though we all know all day every day how we came to be here. when we do turn to crime, we take it out primarily on each other, and it’s driven by the economic state that emerges from being so recently the slaves of this nation.

it is hard to shake away the fact that slavery really helped capitalism take off here. today, how one is doing in the system of capitalism is the difference in most aspects of black life – whether you will work for others and barely survive, get sucked into illegal pathways of survival, or ultimately ride away. and it’s a markedly less discriminating slavery, this embedded modern version. it still shows a statistically trackable lust for black bodies, but will swallow whole anyone who can’t advance against the odds.

if you ride away you can be president. but if you were the president and you happened to be in dearborn heights and got into a car accident and approached a door for help? for the resilience of surviving slavery and being a nice guy and achieving status and titles and leadership and then surviving the car crash and getting to the door, you get nothing. you die, sir.

i am thinking a lot on how creativity thrives in such conditions.

how do we generate life in the midst of an ongoing war? how do we love in the path of such a mysterious borderless hunter?

the only answer that makes any sense to me is the resistance of creating, and letting that creation, that joy and love and generation of something new, press up against the fear.

this combination of movies has me reflecting a lot on resistance. throughout both films there are whispers and traces of love and intimacy as forms of resistance – feeling touched, connected, sweetness, sexual release, goodness. then there is the resistance of not engaging, which beautiful brave slave patsey employs in 12 years. there is the resistance of choosing to die, to kill one’s future, that both patsey and beloved’s sethe turn to or attempt. there is one woman in 12 years whose resistance is weeping, uncontrollably and unstoppably, for her children.

i love the full consideration of these forms of resistance. dream tweeted that resistance is never futile, and i agree – resistance let’s us know how severe the conditions of suffering are, and also let us know how resilient we are, that we still long for a taste of freedom, of action on our own recognizance.

to that end, i have always loved the stories of slow poisoning slave masters, of learning to read and write in the shadows and dirt, of doing the slave work as incompetently as possible without incurring punishment – i love these as much as the stories of running away and freeing others, and think they speak just as powerfully to the ways in which we bend but do not break, break but do not disappear, disappear but are not forgotten.

perhaps because i know myself, and how hard bravery is. and how radically i am living my resistance with every choice, though it may never be seen by others.

perhaps because i have been in the woods in the dark and it still scares me and i think that is some ancestral memory, and i know you can hear everything in the night in the wood, that an escaping slave must have been a crashing burden to the darkness. renisha mcbride. we have been getting shot at in the night such a long time.

i want hear the truth until it is made impossible. if that means lots and lots of movies and television shows and series about slavery and its foundations, its legacies, it’s breathing beastly present, so be it. i want these creative indictments of this viral system, until it can no longer justify itself the morning after. i want inspired-by-true stories like toni wrote, i want directors from all backgrounds to see this as a necessary story to tell. i want djangos, i want fantastical lesbian slave science fiction, i want slave narratives from survivors. i want big budget hollywood movies and small home crafted art films. i want oscar worthy performances and scripts, and i want the rest of it – i want us to obsess about this, to turn to it as a festering spreading wound that can only truly heal with our attention, our slowing down and attending to this place where we have never been well but could be. today, slavery is the rarely mentioned core narrative of this country’s existence – i want our narrative to be truth and reconciliation.

i want a justice for renisha that makes her the last one.

i don’t avoid the news because i don’t care. it is a sign of exhaustion about living in this country, about willfully turning the best of my attention towards creativity and solutions. but from a place of surviving, in case there is ever confusion. i am hanging on the line too, digging my toes in the dirt for purchase on some new stability, hanging on for a true freedom.