tonight i was walking home across a space that was once a plantation, once had a whipping tree, once had a school, once was a major source of cotton, once was a lot of things i cannot see in the soil. the stars are bright and everywhere.
today i got to watch barbara ransby, linda burnham, n’tanya lee and kali akuno share stories of their years in black radical/revolutionary movements – the choices they made in terms of where to place their distinct offerings. they were facilitated by my north star, denise perry. they are each, all five, young with commitment.
and i feel too old. i shouldn’t be walking. my leg is in a brace, because of grief or weight+time or just because i have done something yucky to my left knee. all of the above? i have acupuncture and chiropractic and orthopedic doctor appointments behind me and in front of me, and lots of loving caring people around me who are supporting me to rest and heal.
but sometimes i want and need to be alone under the stars, the so-clear-and-familiar stars that always make me feel both smaller and more at home in the universe. tonight was such a night, my heart full and tender with black love and black grief.
my gait is different these days, painful as i hitch along, one leg always straight, the other overused, my hips tilting. having to sit, prop my leg up, ice, rest, wait, get rides, depend depend depend, accept advice from anyone who sees me, watch others dance…i do get to feeling self-pity.
then, here on this land where black organizers gather to contemplate all the paths to freedom, i think of slaves. i walk the sucking mud and crackling leaves, struck again by how loud everything is in the dark. how did anyone ever get free when just breathing is such a thunder?
tonight i was moved to tears by my current state, my vulnerability. if i time travel back, in my mind, exploring what my magic witchy wild self would have done on this land, i hope i would have rebelled and run away. but i cannot feel it in this body. i cannot run to freedom. i cannot even dance the way i want to.
these days it feels like all i can do is ask for help. this doesn’t come easy, but i do it, i practice, i forget and get reminded, i practice some more. i resist, and then practice some more.
i am changing through this injury, my perception widening. there are so many others like me. as i am wheeled through airports i suddenly notice there is a whole society of people being wheeled around, in various states of temporary or permanent disability. occasionally there is camaraderie or curiosity, but it’s not a given. in me, a certain amount of being either ignored or body shamed produces a turning inward.
my own internalized ableism is so big right now, i don’t want to be noticed in this difference, in this need. i don’t even want to have to transform this pain into magic. i just want to howl and run fast and dance low and be wild.
as black history/futures month comes to a close i am feeling tender and ecstatic. the gathering of Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity filled me up, overflowed me with a sense of wonder and possibility for black people.
i also loved the concurrent celebrations of blackness that were happening, any of which i feel sure would have nourished me:
in LA my loves in the octavia e butler legacy network gathered to honor the ten year anniversary of the transition of my heart-study octavia butler.
in jackson mississippi, black sci fi heads gathered for planet deep south.
there was also a gathering of the echoing ida team.
and this was a week after i got to facilitate the foundational meeting of the ida b wells society for black investigative journalism.
and all of it at the end of a month full of escalating direct actions and black musical explosions (i have been reveling in beyonce and kanye and rihanna and chance the rapper and others), music dancing with messages that got everyone twirling and meming and conversing.
we’re feeling the reverberations of movement thinkers and organizers who are continuously dreaming for black people. that is what flowed out of stevie wonder’s mouth as he dressed down governor snyder in the culmination of the magnificent #justiceforflint event last night, where $130,000 was raised for babies who have already learned, too young, that lead can poison.
(i think in the history books, stevie’s truths will resound louder than chris rock’s shameful attempt at whatever he was simultaneously doing out west)
and me? i landed home feeling stronger, more self-compassionate and loving. i went to the orthopedic doctor and got the next steps lined up for my healing journey. the last few days, and these past few months, feeling how many people were/are loving me and wanting to care for me, wanting to support my health and my body as it is right now, and wanting to see me slow down and land inside my health…all of you are helping me to turn and face some truths.
i cannot run right now. i cannot even imagine future running right now. but i can imagine dancing.
and i can imagine nurturing those who run, cooking and plotting and strategizing, dreaming and singing to the moon, quilting maps, and building such deep ties with those who can run that they would always come back for those who cannot, we would always be part of one liberation. i can see as far as 2050. i can see black emergent strategy, radical black interdependence, landing and proliferating inside revolutionaries like dandelions.
i have to offer and receive interdependence. that is the most strategic thing i can do in my black body right now, let myself be quilted deeply into the pattern.
i am sitting in three intersecting commitments for my somatic work – to authentic intimacy and generative boundaries, to teaching more with less words, and to resilient movements that sustain relationship through change and difference.
i am turning towards my body and asking what i need to do to sustain relationship with myself through change and difference. offering myself less story and more feeling. really listening to my truths and to the boundaries i need in order to fly.
and all i can hear is black love.