wild seed dinner, albuquerque nm

on june 3 we had an octavia butler dinner in albuquerque, an intimate event, just three of us (myself, host andrea quijada, and ob lover elena letourneau). this format made me kind of want to do it this way more often – the intimacy we were able to achieve was quite remarkable before we even started speaking about the book.

then we moved into speaking about wild seed, the first (and achingly good) book in octavia butler’s patternist series (the first series she wrote). this book is my favorite starting place for anyone who hasn’t read her work.

we had one of those gorgeous conversations where you get to the root by exposing it. a lot of what we shared wouldn’t fit into words. however, at the end we summarized the shareable things we thought/discovered together:

it’s quite possible that gardening and living together and building community together is the most radical work. intentional community is a skillset to develop. but in a u.s. context, individual spaces, interdependent. shifting to intentional living – but slowly. everyone has their own space in it, with shared kitchen, yard, garden.

the interconnection of these communities brings to mind safety in relationships. right now with the balancing between online and offline work and organizing, there is a way we can commune globally. (example given: march on monsanto). we have lost a lot of physical relationships with people, which leaves everyone feeling isolated. but safety is in relationships more than any other structure.

wild seed speaks to the isolation of being a leader, of being special. (how that loneliness piles up, how deep the desire to be met and matched.)

the radical strategy is to love.
we are in perhaps a dark age. our legacy might be that we maintained and remembered the way to love.
vulnerability, attachment, care, attunement, these are the ways we remember. we have to remember to feel.

anyanwu is the living embodiment of ‘transform yourself to transform the world‘.

this book is an incredible exploration of the arc of long term relationship, from the initial passion –> to negotiations and struggle over power –> to transformation.

noticing that in the relationship between anyanwu and doro, that they loved each other after seeing the shadow sides of each other. there are people who are our mirrors and show us what we don’t want to see, and we want to run. we need mirrors. we need also to be able to see and love ourselves. (moved to share nina’s song ‘images’

She does not know
Her beauty,
She thinks her brown body
Has no glory.
If she could dance
Under palm trees
And see her image in the river
She would know.
But there are no palm trees
On the street,
And dishwater gives back no images.
– poem by william waring cuney

loving the body, feeling the potential of breath and self-love and healing in each body is radical. (anyanwu is a study of feeling deeply – perhaps we all have her capacity to heal if we could listen inward?)

we appreciate our bodies when we use them. yoga! breath. walking and being outside doing what it is meant to do. ‘moved to tears using my body for myself.’

our culture teaches us not to love our bodies, that something is wrong. it is radical to reclaim loving our bodies.

gender and body insecurity is interesting too – men/boy bodies usually have to do something to get called names. women bodies just walk in, just people look at us and call us names. doing things for ourselves in our bodies is radical. other gender norms…women have to look good on outside, but vagina always good. men can generally look aight but their penis has to be big/just so. insecurities related to those stories. what does this mean for how anyanwu and doro traverse the world, him jumping bodies, coming to her in any body, with her healing and shapeshifting the one she has.

‘i want all women, all people. to lay on the floor and just feel your body and loving each amazing living part, the living organism of the body.’

what is most radical? to transform ourselves.


makes me wonder – what is your secret gift?

this life is miraculous. what if you don’t waste any day, any gift? if this day, this activity is as miraculous as anyone’s very best day and offering…what then is the call?

i know i been changed (travel reflections)

Revolution begins with the self, in the self. It may be lonely. Certainly painful. It’ll take time. We’ve got time. That of course is an unpopular utterance these days. We’d better take the time to fashion revolutionary selves, revolutionary lives, revolutionary relationships. If your house ain’t in order, you ain’t in order. It is so much easier to be out there than right here. The revolution ain’t out there. Yet. But it is here.
~ Toni Cade Bambara

“On the Issue of Roles” in The Black Woman Anthology (pp. 133-135) (thanks janine for sending me this on time!)

i love time.

if there is a constant in this world, something that i feel deeply grateful for on a regular basis, it’s the passage of time and the capacity to see it passing, and see my self changing.

i am home after another week with the babies. i have technically been home 4 days this year. i have felt home every single day though, in montreal, ny, cali, denver, new orleans, dc, and of course that little house in the woods in central minnesota.

i have been so at home out in the woods with the babies, feeling the beautiful ease with which they give me their trust and their rage and their vulnerability – it’s creating in me a really tender different way of being present, with my body and my creativity and my patience. they have such unabashed longing to know and control and destroy and create. it is deeply inspiring to see the level of human emotion that we all learn to manage, for better or for worse.

home with them means waking up to wet diapers and toilet lessons, breakfast, starting fires, playing, cleaning, negotiating, reading, planning adventures and surprises and treats, holding and bouncing and rocking and dancing and feeling both my limitations and my unconditionality and then falling into bed at the end of the day exhausted and delighted with life.

i have been at home in long late night talks with some of my oldest friends, and with new friends, all of whom are intentionally caring about me and moving closer in my life.

i find i need each interaction i am having right now. i am learning that the quality of my presence shapes whether something useful happens in exchange for my attention. this lesson is emerging from work i am doing on my relationship with mortality…in the meantime i am growing my commitment to wasting none of my life and energy.

i have been at home holding space for black women’s reproductive justice with someone nearly twice my age; we recognized each other as kindred. homecoming can happen between two people, in groups, regardless of all the history or distance between us.

i have been coming home to forgiveness, of myself and others. i am cultivating the level of forgiveness that allows closed doors to meld into the wall of memory, allows new openings and possibilities to emerge. i am balancing light that nourishes when it falls on the truth, darkness that is fecund instead of concealing.

time is everything in the work of forgiveness. intentional days matter. and years matter. and then decades matter.

now i find i am different than i thought i was. i am not sure if this is actually change, or just radical remembering. fortunately the effect is so magnificent that i am not sure it matters, the distinction.

i am remembering how to soften my edges enough to move against a tantrum and bring solace, to be in a moment without trying to narrate it, to be honest about how i feel in the moment, to be with people, including – especially – my family. to be WITH as my whole self, the responsibility of all i am in any given room.

i am coming home to feeling my beauty, my spirit and my health in my body…whoo child. i promise to only use my powers for good.

i am lit up by the small miraculous experiences i am having, remembering how to be important to one person at a time, as opposed to feeling i should be important to many.

and of course i have been at home in rooms that were equal mixes of beloveds and strangers, smiling at each other, intoxicated by the erotic scent of brilliance that octavia butler has left all over our lives.

an email from jeff perlstein led to an event in oakland, and now it feels like some awesome octavia butler and emergent strategy world tour with new orleans, dc and minneapolis already touched.

the events have been SO different – in oakland it was a revival. in new orleans it was a close sweet circle of people at the neighborhood story project, really longing for time to read and think together. in dc, at bread for the city, it was more quiet, with reflection on what it means to be radical in that city of extremes. there, a homeless man brought the current apocalyptic parallel universe into the room with us along with a set of challenges on how to hold cross-class conversations that shift us away from charity and towards power in the face of actual hunger and need.

in minneapolis we were in moon palace, a bookstore opened four months ago that quickly filled up with parents and their babies, including my nephew and nieces, who provided the energetic and musical background to our conversation – i got to watch the way parents can be present with two things at once in a way that doesn’t feel diminishing, but is a skill of loving people who need you for their safety.

i am hoping these conversations spark lots of reading of octavia butler’s work intentionally, politically. and that a lot more cities want to have events – in the next few months i’ll be in new york, new mexico, buffalo, back in oakland and minnesota, and of course home in detroit. hint hint.

it feels like i’m home from an accidental second sabbatical, this one focused on connecting with friends, family and soulmates as deeply as last year was about connecting deeply with myself. each of these people and places are growing the pattern of my life, scaling up as i step into myself.

and of course there’s been a soundtrack:
– kendrick lamar
– bruno mars
– ellie goulding – ‘anything could happen’
– rihanna – ‘diamonds’
– kimbra
– miguel
– martha wainwright

and of course audre lourde on the uses of the erotic (listen and let your life be different):

and of course stevie nicks reminding me it’s all good, it’s my wild heart.

and kimbra has been singing me through the journey, over and over again, ‘home is here.’

octavia + oakland

last week i got to geek out on octavia butler and emergent strategy at solespace in oakland.

about the space – if you are in oakland, ever, this is a place to go and be in movement with others and buy sweet shoes to support the brilliant vision of community and cooperation that owner/innovator jeff perlstein is building there. jeff reached out to me about an event when he heard i’d be in town, and i thought a small talk about octavia butler with some of my homies would be fun. dani mcclain and malkia cyril, both immensely humble and brilliant leaders living in the bay, were game to come play.

about the event…it was pretty magical.

first i read the piece on octavia butler and emergent strategy from the transformative justice sci-fi reader which was unveiled at the allied media conference last year. here’s a few excerpts:

emergence is the way complex systems and patterns arise out of a multiplicity of relatively simple interactions. rather than laying out big strategic plans for our work, many of us have been coming together in community, in authentic relationships, and seeing what emerges from our conversations, visions and needs.

we knew that we were seeing deeper commitment and radical transformation in this community work, but how could we articulate it as being strategic?

we were reminded that strategy is a word of military origin, and refers to a plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal. the fact that many of us were using a military definition in order to achieve an evolution in humanity was both ridiculous and illuminating. that alone was a driver for some redefining. it was also a little funny that we have been saying strategic like its a subjective thing, a sign of good. it simply means planned towards a goal. it can be an inflexible outdated hierarchical colonial imperial urgent haphazard plan towards a goal and still be strategic, technically…

we needed to be able to get more specific in what we meant, what we wanted, and how we could measure our progress.

(input lots of examples from octavia’s work which serve as case studies of emergent strategy)

…we can define emergent strategy as intentional, strong because it is decentralized, adaptive, interdependent, and creating more possibilities. bringing emergent strategy to our organizing means we become creators of our future together.

we are not limited to how things have been done in the past in terms of how we share leadership, how we manage interpersonal justice, how we make decisions, how we grow our work. even our smallest acts of integrity grow our collective capacity to live our visions into reality.

after this reading, we moved into a conversation, first with dani and malkia and myself, and then opened our seats so that anyone in the room could come up and speak. so many powerful ideas were shared. i asked participants to share what impacted them most afterwards, on the facebook event page.

this is no transcript, but here’s some of what folks remembered:

– be careful of charisma (glamouring) in leadership
– it is important to win campaigns, but always know that only gets us from a to b. maybe to j. not to z.
– we need both emergent strategy and more traditional campaign based work. (this is evidenced by the smashing of the Acorn community in parables series after ignoring the radical right wing.)
– “Live from a place of passion.” YES!
– we are made to fear our divinity
– being reminded of the limitations of the noun-centered language we speak, that keeps us from seeing ourselves always as beings becoming.
– the importance of ritual and acknowledgement of ancestors and the native land that we stand on.
– the words of the close-out meditation: “if you are (living your passion) doing what you love, and do it day in, day out… celebrate inside from your head down to your toes. And if you are not doing what you love, lean more towards it.”
– where and how do creative/cultural workers find their place in movement work? so much creative practice happens in isolation. how does that figure into collectivity/collective liberation/emergent strategy?
– (free schools) kids deciding their curriculum year to year, making it work for their needs/desires.
– see everyone as a potential ally.
– creativity comes from making room, rather than pushing.
– honor the erotic as the tie-in to our creativity and play.
– “the arrogance of our opposable thumbs.”
– Even an awkward black girl can lead, even when she doesn’t mean to.
– Play and being curious.
– We are all artists.
– Find a place in movement for what you want to do.
– evoked Dagara ritual of elders council asking child in womb what they are coming here to do, what is their gift. For example, if they say an artist, then artists materials are gathered by community and gifted to the parents for the child. And from a young age they apprentice with and shadow artists so education is based on who they are coming here to be for the community, their calling. While we as a society are a long way from being open to something like this, it would be fascinating to get more curious with children about where their passions lie, and fostering that rather than standardized schooling and testing we now have.
– there are resources available to us in dreaming this new existence into being that we are not tapping as deeply into as we can. Ancestors, Sacred Plants, Madre Tierra, etc are cheering us on and just waiting for us to humbly ask for their assistance. Been waiting for us to do so, and excited to see us awakening on a more collective level.
– always do embodied organizing.
– nowadays my visioning conversations are limited to an organization’s aspirations three or five years hence.
– I need to commit to doing personal work that connects my brain, my heart and my body.
– I need reread all of Octavia Butler’s writings.
– I so needed to be encouraged to lean into my passion. Since I fear it could lead me to create a beautiful reality in relative isolation, I heard everyone saying, “go ahead and build it, there’s a place for your vision within the movement.” everyone has a role to play and we find it by being true to ourselves.
– if we don’t start imagining and creating whole new systems, we will never get past the oppressive hierarchical patriarchal systems we are in.
– through it all, the awareness that climate change will make science fiction a reality in all of our lifetimes. This is real, and we have a great opportunity for transformation amidst the upheaval to come.

hopefully this gives you a sense of the magic that was moving through the room. more events coming soon to a city near you 🙂

the octavia symposium (aka: not faster caterpillar – butterfly!

yesterday was one of the best days of my life. i hosted my (the?) first ever octavia butler symposium to create a strategic octavia butler reader for social justice visionaries.

it was incredible…i want to place the raw notes here so we all have them. i will craft these into a strategic reader which will live here on the blog till it finds a new home. Enjoy the transcript of our magic geeky time together 🙂 Below that is a list of related creations to consume.


adrienne’s words:

want to uplift some key themes for me from each of these books that are relevant for us in the movements for social justice.

the parable series shows us the apocalypse, and then the agricultural and spiritual solution, and then the true smashing of almost all vision, and – to me the most important part – the zapatista-style person to person relationship building that maintains and spreads the vision.

the patternist series shows us two beings, good and evil, who are basically immortal and thrust together simply by the shared experience of not dying. their offspring are a race of telepaths who illuminate the digital divide of new forms of communication (even if they are organic), the elitism that can come with communication, and the power of networks and relationship.

the xenogenesis series (also known as lilith’s brood), is about the key question – what is necessary about humans? do we deserve to exist? what would we do to survive and what elements of our species are worth preserving. this is after we have destroyed earth, another species (more advanced) picks us up and begins to integrate us into their physical and cultural existence.

it’s also the series that has the most evolved vision on a near darwinian level of what works for survival – organic creation and building, zero waste, networked families instead of 2 parent households, things we need to pay attention to.

i won’t do too much on kindred here, or fledging, or survivor (which octavia took out of print and didn’t want us to read. and it was awesome.) simply because they are not part of series where we can see the arc of lesson flow.

blood child and other stories is an important collection of short stories – first for the essay on how being a writer is about persistent practice much more than raw talent.

also, the story in there about people digging and gouging at themseves makes me think of how we dig and destroy our selves, our organizations, our movements. how can we redirect that intense energy into creativity?

fishbowl conversation: Developing the Intro for the Octavia Butler Strategic Reader.

(here we placed 4 chairs in the middle of the room and asked a few questions – there were no lulls in this conversation 🙂 )

Why is Octavia Butler strategic/important to your work?
– seeing a strong dynamic powerful black leader was important
– we had an eternal summer of the black feminist mind on octavia butler…everything we read has the question – are you willing to be transformed? [even past human?]…its not a cooler version of what you were, its something completely new. its important because it’s transformative. caterpillar to butterfly – not fast caterpillar, BUTTERFLY
– she provides me with a place of rest – her work IS her, she can teach me things, i can melt into her…
– in most of her books there’s a capitalist mistake that leads to something new. corporate medicine leaked into water makes smart people empaths – the empaths that are an underclass in the parables.
– often in her stories the protagonist meets an older woman/mentor who wasn’t supposed to live. and they name explicitly that because of who we are and what we do, we can’t work together, we even hate each other…for my political work this yields the lesson of how to rise above ‘shit’ and honor different territories and shared skill for the greater goals of the work
– people long for the apocalypse (or revolution) – folks are always waiting for it to get really bad before they change….octavia shows what its like to get thru the bad, and then it gets worse, and gets worse. a cycle of apocalypse. resilience (not as a word to throw around) is what it is to go thru the cycle of apocalypse with your visions intacts.
– how does octavia relate to disability? how does it become a strength – and what does the agricultural vision from many of her works mean for folks who can’t farm 8 hours a day?
– when we think about priorities and class – i’m thinking about healing and class. what does it mean to FEEL oppression, vs folks who are more insulated. how is that a liability and a resource? she walks many paths with it.
– she’s all about the dry run – as a campaigner i always ask how would [that] look? she takes us on a pageant play of what the iterations of the apocalypse are gonna look like. i wake up at night thinking of the image of the 16 year old girl and her folks roasting a baby on a spit. we’re going on a journey, and we’re seeing all this suffering – and its our responsibility to go to the stars. we can’t solve every problem. how do we take from these lessons, and survive?
– when you talk about going to the stars it makes me relate to…how we relate to colonization…at the expense of what people, what means? i feel octavia is asking – do humans need to be here? its a hard question. if its about survival, and we see ourselves as connected – is this species one that needs to survive? connected – she asks hard things about incest and age. this really disturbed me when i read her – how we don’t talk about hurt and power differentials – childhood sexual abuse (gen 5 and others are thinking about this)…how do we see non-consensual acts that create other things that people use and find helpful…

why octavia (as or not as sci fi) now [at this current moment, in the age of sb1070, the flotilla, economic crisis, technological advances]?

– i think we are in a spiritual awakening, looking at what our society could be in a spiritual realm. she holds that space for us
– i think when u bring up the apocalypse, its not science fiction, its happening. especially what she writes in the parable.
– the guiding philosophy that lauren (olamina, from the parables) has in her life is that god is change – that gives me strength. the only thing i can count on is change, so how to be of use at a time like this?
– what she presents forces me to face my deepest fears…like, when the apocalypse comes we will have to walk. that scares me. when i moved to oakland from the midwest i had to wrestle w/what about when the apocalypse comes and i can’t walk to ohio to see my family?
– i think the issues are timeless. when she wrote them she was forecasting. and some of what she has written about has come to pass. if we continue on this path this is how it will look.
– she writes from the perspective of the marginalized, often first person. they are dealing with gangs on the highways and border control [“no one wants california trash”] – really personalizes it: how do u feel?
– i want to put in a pitch for science fiction. its a great gateway – i am always looking for anti-racist and postcolonial thought. this world is so vaster and more beautiful and has more potential than we give credit to it – if that wasn’t true we would have no hope for the social movement work we are doing now. octavia is only one of the writers who approaches this work.
– octavia draws into play: if there’s all that magic in the world why don’t we use that potential? there’s the potential of all the characters – they have these powers. its not just the apocalypse, her protagonists have the potential to destroy as much as save their communities.
– its weird that its labeled as science fiction – her work brings up race, gender, sexuality…how do we deal with living in a world where folks in some places actually ARE eating babies – and how do we deal with our comfort?
– introduces us to the power of stories of the future. we’re trying to look into stories of the future in our organizing – to see what obstacles we’re trying to create. it allows us to role play. things are complicated, folks don’t act the way you want them to – her work is complicated. there’s many reasons the characters fail, many reasons they succeed, all those reasons are human.
– if u can imagine it u can build it – she lays blueprints for social change. also – the digging – people have loads of creative energy…what would it look like to release our creative potential? [self-critics and haters particularly]
– i came to her as a sci-fi fan, not knowing she was a black woman, she was in the sci-fi ghetto. the power of sci-fi is – if u wrote a novel about detroit, people have all these expectations {oh this a race analogy, and poverty, etc]. but if you take it out of that context, there’s a suspension of disbelief that allows you to get at issues without peoples’ walls going up. it IS a parable, it is an allegory, and it fits into what we’re dealing with now
– the evening, the morning and the night – our work in detroit summer is all about transforming our energy – that story shows the value of investing not in keeping schools open but in creating spaces to rechannel their energy.
– with lilith’s brood, i have been thinking about the concept of the singularity – a friend of ours (kweli tutashinda) has been writing about how folks in the science world are moving closer to merging human genes and technology – and there are nearly cults that believe its the next stage of evolution. NASA had a conference about it – its coming. kweli writes about whats at stake for indigenous and grassroots communities in that shift?
– [editor’s note: this is making me reflect on how we keep recreating the technology to do what we know how to do naturally but have forgotten to practice: awanyu has to pretend to do things a normal way when she knows another way. telepaths having to speak. how do we release or re-member what we know how to do?]
– also reflecting on speculative democracy and we are all going to be impacted by it. access to technology is one way to experience this.

Then we shifted into small groups to think specifically about each series of Octavia’s work. We had two groups work on the Parables, a Patternist series group, a Xenogenesis group and a short stories/other group. What follows are their verbatim notes. Many folks signed up to stay in touch about this work – if you are interested as well, let me know.



Notes from the Short Story group. Starting off with a go around with names and the stories that brought us to this group:

– “The Morning, the Evening and the Night”
– “Speech Sounds”
– _Fledging_
– “Bloodchild”

Interest in
– what it means to be a writer
– class differences in “speech sounds”
– people of color scifi as a way of decontextualizing our struggles and framing them in a new light
– trauma as a context of transformation of people’s relationship to their bodies, their relationships and how they perceive reality in the short stories
– consent, parenting, what makes a familyand how we support each other in “bloodchild”
– disability in her stories. mental health.

Going deeper into one of the stories: Bloodchild

1. Octavia Butler says in the comments of Bloodchild that she is not writing about slavery unless she explicitly is writing about chatterel slavery. Do we agree with that? Do we believe her?

2. What are some reasons she might have said this?
– Pigeonholed as an African-American author
– Slavery as a specific historical instition
– Thinking about other forms of oppression

3. What do we understand as the relationship between Octavia Butler as an author and the statements of her narrators?

We are all vibrations. The moment we share here is a preparation for the next moment. She leaves her writing in order to prepare us for the next meeting.

Two people shared dreams related to Octavia Butler, touching on the power of our own prophetic dreams. Magical, prophetic experiences related to the AMC.

Being able to create, imagine bigger is a process of decolonization of our dreams. Our dreams have gotten smaller and smaller, but as we engage scifi in reading and in dreams, our imaginations can grow and decolonize.


How does immortality or longevity relate to morality?
(bc to them, there are no consequences)
> how does it relate to immortality as privilege
> longevity as privelege at the expense of other peoples live
>what is interdependence? (i.e. communities)
> there is a leader – the patternmaster – people are very resistant to the patternmaster
> what does it mean that there even IS a patternmaster?
> female leader/patternmaster was able to kill the male immortal thru the power of the network – she was like a conduit for their power, but she was actually controlled by them (the network) – question: what are the patterns of de-centralized leadership?
> what do the actual lines of de-centralized leadership look like?
> how to we go about accounting for the disabled – i.e. ppl born with the alien disease, ppl are disturbed by that/them… how do we affirm bodily differences? – in the world that we create?
> alot of tension btwn ideas of a scarcity mind-set vs an abundance mind-set…?
…theres this abundant amt of this energy in the world and the way to sustain it…
>how do we do the emotional work to help each other after the trauma?
“Is there more than just getting through the day?”
> Wildseed – reliance on gender-based binary set-up, then subverted into…? there is some gender-switching throughout, but still reverts back to male-female dichotomy.
> are you willing to be transformed into service work – patterns of people grouping together around ‘differences’ – how are we going to group in this way w/o one or the other eventually rising above in privelege?
> scarcity vs abundance mindsets – how does that play out in behavior patterns?
—also, does she illiustrate this in the form of class? does a “middle class” exist?
> didnt really touch on race in this discussion yet….
> white history + anthropology books gloss over human origins as being people of color…. and her way of presenting it is more an adam and eve thing… eden is africa, and its not the same idea of eden…
> evolution presented in a way of turning darwinism on its head and address instead human vs superhuman vs subhuman…?

<<< >>>

Notes from Parable Series 1
-How are these books closer to reality than fiction?
-Question for Parable of the Talents: Even if we have different values, how can we still relate to each other without disrespect? (based on Lauren and Marcos’ relationship, Marcos keeping Lauren’s daughter away from her, brainwashing her to keep away from Acorn)
-How do we within our movements really find ways to heal intergenerational stuff.
-What can Lauren’s daughter offer us? What kind of commentary is she offering through her resistance to Earthseed, and her mother’s obsession with ‘the cause’ at the expense of family. Often time we have outsider status within our own families because of our political work, where we are so often organizing other people’s family members and not our own.
-From perspective of whte folks/ those in power, the difference between sympathy and empathy, to learn that the pain they are inflicting is hurting them too… how to organize a world on those principals as well
-Ques. related to Lauren’s hyperempathy… How do you create spaces where we can strongly empathize what another’s feelings, when we have to deal with so much oppression and numbing ourselves becomes survival.
-Parable of the Talents freedom after acorn is taken over, mudslide scene: Planning you can do to move towards liberation and what happens our of control that can also help us. What role does faith play if a role at all. In what are you taking solace?
– Parable of the Talents: Snitching on the lesbian couple: How do we trust and build relationships in themidst of oppresive situations?
-Very end of the Series, and they are successful–imagining a way to move forward… the ship Earthseed leaves for the stars on is called Christopher Columbus… what is Butler saying there? Is Earthseed beautiful as something that works right here right now, what does it mean that they will move to colonize another planet?
-Preparation for the unpreparable… how can we make meaningful links with one another ahead of time before crazy apocolypse
– Black Church: apocolypse and prophesy, today’s 2012 phenomenon and how we are all talking about it… How are similar themes present in this series?
-How do we develop technology for social change in a hostile environment or co-opt technologies that have been used for say military defense.
empathy in relations to power structure
belief in faith
Super-power of change


Feelings, being overwhelmed by feeling – critical question about what does it mean to feel empathy?

Relationship between healing, empathy, creativity, movement

Gendered expression of feelings – how women are treated when they express their feelings and how men are treated when they express their feelings

(Kat) Wisdom and strength comes from pain. In POS POT, what wisdom and strength comes from pain and trauma? How is that healed, or how is it not healed?In our reality, how can we can respect and hold the wisdom that comes from pain and trauma, while healing from that. How can we respect the wisdom, while working to stop the trauma from happening to other people?

Source of pain is stolen daughter – how does she use that pain as a driving force?

What does OB believe her characters learn from trauma and how does that trauma help them approach their work, guides and motivates their work?

How OB talks about feelings – sometimes feels like a little dissociation/detachment – writes about humanity in a really big way, people facing trauma, but keep going – don’t have time for healing circles etc, we have to just survive always – role of emotions in OB’s work – processing trauma in a community way is really imp – reading POS POT – acorn built on concepts of interdependence, but not in an emotional way — (Tyrone)

(Jesse) That might also be part of dealing with trauma – part of impact of how trauma is dealt with in that book – example funeral ceremony where planting trees, realize the emotional content of the tree planting – something so interesting about the gathering ceremonies – they are about emotions, welcoming people into the community, transition life death – also logistical, are we going to build this thing or not, interdependence or not – intermeshed logistics and emotion – Olamina constantly being commented on as unemotional – all about blocking what you feel

How does distance from feelings help in POS/T? How does it cause problems?

(Kat thought) also she is saying that logistics and emotions can’t be separated

She felt deeply but her father was v stoic – looked upon as weakness to display emotion, something to be manipulated – overcompensating for that

When first began journey – what this looks like in our society – ppl who put on bigger clothing and takes a male identity – ppl in our reality do that too, to take the power of maleness –

(Josh) what is the role of empathy in our own work? Polit arguments based in empathy, or respect, what are the themes of our own work?

What is it that makes her – empathy, her father, her experiences?

When we have overwhelming feelings, how do we strategically deal with them in our work?

What are our rituals?

(Jesse) When we have political talk, we often talk in terms of hyper-empathy – how does Lauren separate/balance the empathy and maintaining her own strength? If she doesn’t get some distance, she loses focus and ability to work…

How do you distance yourself and be in it at the same time? Carrying and balancing empathy…

How do women assert our strength in our own form, as opposed to transitioning to someone else?

How do people assert strength in their true form, without being oppressive?

What is the role of body and gender performance to power in POS POT?

What stands in for gender normatively and lack of GN in OB’s books, and how do people use it, are influenced by it

Disability as strength, as community, as weakness, as vulnerability

Apocalyse – some people love her bc of our fantasies of the apocalypse

Agriculture, seeds, as related to food and freedom, and control

Religion – how do we embrace and reject religion, how does she do that in her books?

How do we balance logistics and emotions in our work? How does OB do that in POS POT? What lessons is she trying to share with us, what to learn?


Lilith’s Brood
Questions: Cancer as a metaphor-the way the oankali can survive–how can we take what we see as inherently distructive and make them healing and liberatory?

what does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be alien?

What would I do if I were Lilith? Is the pleasure Lilith sucumbed to a tool for domination?

What is the place of pleasure in our work?

How do we frame the other? How do we define the othter/alien/immigrant?

How do we deal with our complicated reactions to difference? (looking at Lilith’s first experiences with Oankali)

How do generations surpass each other? How can we see more possibilities than those that come before us?

How can we raise our children recongnizing they are totally separate/different/other beings?

What are the connections between Lilith and the Lilith in the bibile? Within traditional Jewish beliefs?

How does the oankali explore gender is ways that are helpful/transformative to us? Related to how we see it? Limited?


Other works

listen to:
Nina Simone’s 22nd Century
Tamar Kali’s Warrior Bones

Carl Brandon Society – sci fi readers and writers of color
Minister Faust
Tanarive Due
Nalo Hopkinson
Jewelle Gomez
Janelle Monae’s whole songbook!