this will be america

my friend jodie reminded me of this piece i wrote a few years ago about being an american revolutionary, particularly section 6. she has reposted that section in the past, calling it ‘america, i must love her’:

you cannot shirk responsibility for this country
you cannot shake off these atrocities
its a bloody birthright
all children are born into blood
you have to grow up by growing down into the soil
past the burnt bodies and broken buildings
built on broken bodies and broken promises
built up, bloody borders
borders you live in whether you want to or not

you are the ones we’ve been waiting for

it was hard to revisit the poem in the shock and grief of orlando. and it feels important to remember my own responsibility in this place. i sit in the spirit of grace lee boggs and octavia butler, knowing i, a post-nationalist american-born revolutionary, need to do the hard work of taking on america, and shaping the future that can grow from this place. so.

    this will be america

we are strewn across the street
or the sticky sweet floor
where we called ourselves home
where we got ourselves free
now slick with our blood
this
is america

we are heads bent knees bruised
guilty in hushed prayer
god’s words telephoned across time
to tell us: everything you need
is made of fire
this
is america

we are children, somebody’s children
we are innocent children
we are wayward children
we are violent children
and we fight and we grieve like children
this
is america

we are warriors brought home in whale bellies
to fight, to die on this soil
in an unnamed civil war spilling all our borders
on one side is humanity
and we cannot see the other side
this
is america

we are bruised broke-open fruit
a piled mess under ancient trees
which will only grow with us
we permeate the roots, seething, seeding
we will never go anywhere else
this
is america

we are born with our dignity
we look beautiful weeping, waging love
when scared we sashay the tar streets
press together in the steaming darkness
sweating out freedom songs, love songs
this
is america

we are growing and falling apart
and we are absolutely terrifying
we are stunning funghi, transforming this toxic soil
we are swallowing our dead
becoming worthy of our miracles
this
is america

we cannot separate now
there is nowhere else, no escaping ourselves
millions whisper rituals into dirt and flesh
millions, millions hold each other, raging, changing
fecund with our sacrifices
and this
this will be america

and our future will inhale together
to sing out a bright axe ooh
and remember the names of our martyrs
as we offer each other abundance
as we finally, finally learn we are love
and this
this will be america

thank you to dani, jodie and autumn for holding this with me

lighting candles for orlando, and for all of us

lighting candles of liberation and nirvana for the 50 souls in transition from the pulse nightclub in orlando. i hope they are holding each other in the journey.

lighting candles of inner and outer healing for the injured, may they recover and be supported from the trauma of what they survived.

lighting candles of grief for the queer, trans, latinx and black communities of orlando for this massive loss – we are family, i mourn with you. what a massive loss.

lighting candles of protection and solidarity for my muslim and arab beloveds as this country does its favorite thing – using one phobia to feed another, deflecting blame after creating the conditions for nothing but hate. grateful for those who reached out to me today in love, and who received my love in return.

and lighting candles of fierce love for all of my friends and family who participate in major religions that espouse homophobic beliefs. however you call god, the weight of hate crimes against QUILTBAG people is partially yours, the struggle falls on your frontline. i extend my warrior energy behind you as you fight the ignorance and hate mongering within your sacred houses.

lighting candles under the asses of anyone who still can’t grasp the need for deconstructing the gun/violence-worshipping culture of this nation. you sound unworthy of the miracle of life you have been given.

lighting a candle at the intersections, that we may all see that we are not separate, we cannot separate. last night i gave a speech on abortion at an undisclosed location, kept hidden for security reasons that root into the same violence that was wrought in orlando. i am abstaining from sugar in solidarity with jasmine abdullah richards, who is behind bars for standing up against the violent policing of this country which disproportionately devastates the same communities that were targeted in orlando. i am grieving comrades who have been killed in the line of their work to push back against hate. all of this is connected, us – black, queer, trans, differently abled, immigrant, woman, arab, indigenous, asian, fat, nonbinary, nonmainstream in any way – wanting to live and love as we are – and those we are up against seemingly dissatisfied with disagreeing and leaving us alone. they must take everything, have everything, and kill what they cannot understand. we must hold tight to each other and grow, become indivisible.

lighting a candle for myself, that in this moment of rage and grief i can stay in touch with the truth and beauty of my precious, sacred and very queer life. i choose to live my life guided and motivated by love rather than hate. i know i am free. i know love is what sets and keeps me free.

i found this helpful – some practical tips from suzy steffan via my sci fi sister lisa bolekaja:

A few things straight cis or trans and non-straight cis people could do today and every day to support LGBTQIA people:

1. Listen to queer people.

2. Listen to queer people of color. This hate crime happened in diverse Orlando at Latinx night at the Pulse. That very much matters.

3. Text us, snapchat us, tweet us that you love us (do not include “no matter whom you love”) and you’re thinking about us today.

4. Don’t deny that this was a hate crime.

5. Don’t make this about Islam. It’s not. It’s about transphobia and homophobia. Oh, and access to AR-15s.

6. Ask local LGBTQIA groups how you can help.

7. Don’t accept one nanosecond, not ONE, of victim blaming from friends, relatives, or religious representatives.

8. If you go to church and your pastor doesn’t mention Orlando or does it in a hateful way, speak up right then or walk out at that moment, and find a new church. Same for any religious organization. You can help your religious organizations be better.

9. Donate blood *AND* tell the FDA to lift the ban on “men who have had sex with men” donating blood RIGHT NOW, as in RIGHT. NOW.

10. Trans and L/G/B cis people of color get killed at disgustingly high rates. You, yes, you, straight/cis people, *have to* speak out against HB 2 and all the other transphobic “bathroom bills” out there.

11. If you have money, you could send it to Orlando (if you don’t live there), or you could help fund your local QUILTBAG organizations. Some links in the comments.

12. If you don’t have money, which I *certainly* understand right now, get books by authors who identify as LGBTQIA out of the library, and recommend them to others.

13. You might, as I have this ugly awful morning, try to get your local politicians to support a vigil for the LGBTQIA communities.

13a. But when that vigil happens, listen to the community to see if we need you there. We might need you as a buffer zone. We’ll be holding each other and crying and singing. You be our security.

13b. Be sure to ask those politicians to get the buy-in of local grassroots and “official” queer/trans rights groups. It’s important for cities and states and the country to support us, but not without our organizations as well.

14. Read up on LGBTQIA herstory and history. (Some suggex in the comments, eventually.)

15. Post about Orlando. You don’t have to share the news stories, you don’t have to share the details, but show us that you see us and that you care about us. We see you when you don’t.

16. If you have QUILTBAG employees – and you do if you have employees! – check in with them today and in the next few days. Have their backs. Be prepared to help them out, to fill in (without asking them to give up paychecks).

17. If you have QUILTBAG students – and you do if you teach! – give them extra love and space to process. Not by singling them out, of course, but by publicly mentioning your horror at the hate crime and privately letting them know that they can take more time as they process.