my body is a spell i’m casting

because this is an unfree world;
because it is sandra brand’s birthday;
because change is happening so quickly;
because i need armor;
because i have lived and loved these words for so long;
because i needed to feel a black queer woman make a mark on me;
because there is pain i can endure;
because the idea made me feel more of myself:

i got two tattoos, spells from ancestors in my lineage of liberation creativity, this evening.

on my right arm, camus says: the only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.

on my left arm, octavia says: all that you touch you change, all that you change changes you, the only lasting truth is change, god is change.

my body is a spell i’m casting towards everything i long for, towards being so absolutely free, towards being a divine and willing force of change that builds the absolute freedom of all beings – freedom from hatred, inferiority, violence, regression, stagnation and facism. freedom to cocreate a society worthy of a miraculous world, freedom to love and change the world always towards joy and interdependence. freedom to live days full of good news and togetherness. freedom to learn to be sentient and be an essential fragment of something so vast and glorious i can never conprehend it. freedom to be special and humble. freedom to move beyond paradigms of winning, losing, reforming and surviving – to move towards life and more life.

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the letters are written in my own hand with the intention of being worthy of wearing them. with deep gratitude to vanessa reynolds for being a calm presence and sure hand in this work.

<3

‘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

lies for sandra bland

we all know how to make a noose
yeah they teach us when we are young
when we are laughing
then we are in stitches

our cheekbones crack open concrete
you know we got this other pulse
in our nomad hearts
a cyanide vibration

when silenced we string ourselves up flagpoles
let the wind whip us into our own histories
before you script us a horror
and sign our names

we beam joy, breathe calls for justice
tie our names around your heart, and jump
just hoping our weight
will come and bury you

– for Sandra Bland and Kindra Chapman and the million other lied on women.

when we die in police custody, know our lives are being taken from us in so many ways, and our lives are precious. we are being killed, fast and slow, abruptly, methodically.

and this drives us mad and makes us depressed and hopeless.

no one wants to do this, to be grieving and angry and exhausted and disappeared and lied on and terrified all the time.

filling our lives with fear is a taking.

traumatic interactions with ‘authority’ is a taking.

having to grieve over sister-strangers is a taking.

having to explain that even though this country gives us every reason to give up, we do not, that fighters don’t hang themselves for traffic violations, we do not…this too is a taking.

life is a miracle, getting through the day shouldn’t be.

I want to rest, celebrate, dance, love, generate, heal, create. but every time I start to find a rhythm a new grief knocks me down.

everything I’m writing these days is about black rapture, resistance, resilience, black escape and safety, black love, blackness.

but today when I sit still to feel, all that rolls over me is black rage. what can I do to make this useful? what I do to move myself and others to anything better than this pain?

the only thing that pivots me away from the abyss is the question: how did my ancestors survive?

and I don’t know the answers, but I know that they did, and while I breathe I will, and while black people breathe we will.

but at what cost?