…And promptly stopped writing

So I woke up this morning to an anonymous post on my blog that questioned my lack of updating on my blog since my trip as suspect. To be clear, there are people that I still owe artwork for supporting my trip, and that’s still coming (I ain’t forgot about y’all) . But- I don’t owe anybody a damn thing when it comes to me writing. I don’t owe anybody my emotional labor. I don’t owe anybody my creative labor beyond terms which were mutually agreed upon.

The fact is that I am still writing, but I needed to take a pause to explore exactly what I’m writing about. If it seems suspect to you that, after I took a life-changing trip,  I would take a pause to assess what I am saying in the world, take a pause to really get intimate again with my inner world and what I’m putting in the outer world, then you taking this 24 hour instant internet gratification thing too seriously bruh. What I’m writing you may never see on these blogs.

I’m also seriously questioning whether y’all interrogate white writers the way you demand labor from black writers. Whether you demand access from white writers the way you demand access from black writers. The need to consume our analysis of the latest blip in pop culture within 3 hours of whatever it is that happens to start trending is not something I’m interested in any longer. I’m not an entertainment writer. I am always investigating and interrogating the nature of the soul in my writing. And that sometimes means taking time and listening.

So, respectfully, fall the fuck back. If your support is conditional on me churning out writing for your consumption, then respectfully, don’t fucking support me. I’m raising children, doing healing work- on myself and others. I’ve stayed active in sj work through Roots Pride and other shit. My daughter had major surgery this summer and a bunch of other shit happens that you don’t even need to know. I raise 5 children every single day. If that’s not enough for you I honestly don’t give a fuck. Be honored that I blessed your unworthy ass with an entire damn blog post. I’m a black woman in America and I don’t owe anybody shit but staying black and staying alive.

I’m taking this trip, you see

TW Most things

 

 

I’m taking this trip. I’m taking this trip for the little girl who did not think she would live past 21. Whose father was angry and left the hospital when she was born because she was a girl. whose childhood sentences were punctuated by bullets; who is haunted by the sound of her own feet leaving her foster sister on the sidewalk and running back to her mother when they drove down the street shooting that one time. I’m taking this trip for the little girl who sucked her babysitter’s dick so her brother wouldn’t have to. I’m taking this trip for the little girl who skipped other classes to go to english class so she could learn how words worked. I’m  taking this trip for the little girl who lost herself a long time ago. I’m taking this trip for the little girl whose “uncle” put his fingers inside of her. I’m taking this trip for the little girl who doesn’t share anything with her mother anymore. I’m taking this trip for a little girl who devoured an entire library once. I’m taking this trip for a little girl on a swiftly tilting planet. I’m taking this trip for the little girl who only had enough space for her dreams at dusk outside in the summer with the fireflies. I’m taking this trip for the little girl who sucked in her stomach and sat on the edge of her seat so her thighs wouldn’t spread. I’m taking this trip for the girl who got raped in high school and then used sex to numb herself. I’m taking this trip for the girl who thought she was so unlovable that she married someone that didn’t know how. the girl who got pregnant at 19 and married at 20. the girl whose high school best friend was shot in the head when she was pregnant with her first.  the girl with no formal education and is by all accounts a perfect storm of statistics. I’m taking this trip for the woman who tried really really hard to kill herself two years ago and thinks about killing herself the way one thinks about calling an ex-lover. I’m taking this trip for the woman with 5 kids and bunch of failed relationships and extraordinary fuck ups. I’m taking this trip for the woman who is learning how to own her body and her voice. I’m taking this trip for the woman on food stamps who worries about how to pay the rent. I’m taking this trip for the woman who eats smokes and drink so she don’t have to feel shit. I’m taking this trip for the woman who is swimming against the riptides of her own past and ghosts. I’m taking this trip for the woman with the broken heart. I’m taking this trip for the woman who always feels like she is not enough for what life demands of her. I’m taking this trip for the woman who likes to have colored weave and short tight shit on her body. I’m taking this trip for the woman whose baby fatha always tell the kids that she don’t love them. I’m taking this trip for the woman who is an orphan with living parents. I’m taking this trip for the crazy woman. I’m taking this trip for the woman who was never asked about her future when she was a little girl. I’m taking this trip for the woman who still doesn’t know how to answer that question for herself. I’m taking this trip for a woman who the dandelions and wild things call by name. I’m taking this trip for a woman who straddles the storms and makes love to the lightening. I’m taking this trip for a woman who doulas life and death. I’m taking this trip for a woman who was murdered and resurrected 9 times. I’m taking this trip for a woman who is a scholar of the spirit. I’m taking this trip for an Atlantic Ocean Crossing Black Woman, but also a Verdant woman. I’m taking this trip for a woman with many praise names. I’m taking this trip for a woman who prays. I’m taking this trip for a woman that is loved. I’m taking this trip for a woman that is wealthy and abundant. I’m taking this trip for a woman with daughters and suns to raise. I’m taking this trip for a woman who conjurs. I’m taking this trip for a woman that heals.I’m taking this trip for a woman who refuses to be ashamed.  I’m taking this trip for a woman that loves.   I’m taking this trip for a brilliant woman. I’m taking this trip for a kind woman. I’m taking this trip for a fierce woman. I’m taking this trip for a woman drenched in light. I’m taking this trip for a woman saturated in darkness.  I’m taking this trip for all of me. for me. for me.

 

Thank You.

 

 

 

 

Historical Amnesia, 20 $$ bills & the land of the free

” I have been particularly struck by the many comments and reactions from children for whom Harriet Tubman is not just a historical figure, but a role model for leadership and participation in our democracy. …” Treasury Secretary Jason Lew

Black people must not allow our struggle to be subsumed into the American political imaginary. Laboring under the myth of progress, it is assumed that Black labor, particularly the labor of Black liberation, is a function of the quest to make America “Great”.

It is assumed that dissenting voices are available to be encompassed in the myth of American democracy and the American imaginary as a part of what makes America unique in its value system and extraordinary in its ideals. It is assumed that this dissent is a part of American dissent and does not own itself. This assimilation of Black Liberation struggle into the discourse of the American imaginary is part of what allows America to export its special brand of imperialism and violence around the world and market it as freedom and democracy.

Black fungibility allows for the black body to be consumed in any way desired by the American imagination. Harriet Tubman, whose life was a threat to the perceived order of American governance, can now be consumed and traded, bought and sold hundreds and thousands and millions and trilllions of times. Now in death, she is to be the literal currency that symbolizes American prosperity, but not just prosperity, progress. Harriet Tubman’s life is enslaved again for the American imaginary, all under the guise of a progress that makes America an expert in freedom and liberation in its own mind.

We must make the incredible leap then, that Harriet Tubman’s liberation labor was retroactively to legitimize the colonialist/imperialist nation of the United States, that she labored to be the beneficiary of a system that amassed its wealth on the bodies of Black people, on the bodies and the land of Native people. We must make the leap, if her face on the 20 dollar bill is acceptable, that her liberation labor was indeed in service to the American “ideal” and not to the liberation of her people. We must make the leap that the dividends still being received by the descendants of slave owners is co-signed by the spirit of Harriet Tubman herself.

Let us be clear, American wealth was amassed by the genocide of Native people, and the MAAFA of people of African descent. This is a travesty that is sustained by the continued erasure of Native people and their sovereignty of this land, by the continued MAAFA of black people and by the blood of millions around the world.

Black people must not allow our liberation to legitimize the myth of America and to distort the labor and life of Harriet Tubman. This is not new for America. just as gynecology was built on the torture of Black women and Henrietta Lacks’ cells were stolen for American innovation, the liberation work of Harriet Tubman is being co-opted under the myth of progress that works to retroactively enslave black women by stealing their bodies and their labor for the benefit of the “greater good”.

If America was being sincere about honoring Harriet Tubman’s legacy, then Assata Shakur would not still be a fugitive. If America was being sincere about honoring Harriet Tubman’s legacy, then we would have an honest discourse about reparations. If America was being sincere about honoring Harriet Tubman’s legacy, America itself would cease to exist, because it would recognize that the foundation of America was illegitimate for the aforementioned reasons.

But America is not sincere in its desire to honor or even remember the legacy of Black Liberation struggle. America has amnesia about the foundation of this country, and therefore renders invisible the struggles of Native people- who must be invisible in order for America to be legitimate- and conveniently victim-blames Black people for their position of subjugation that is necessary to retroactively absolve America from its actions in the MAAFA by insisting that our position is a result of moral inferiority. It must purify itself and create a historical amnesia in order to justify its continued existence.

To buy into the myth of progress that is symbolized by Harriet on the money is the legitimization of a system that has never acknowledged our humanity let alone our work to dismantle the channels of our dehumanization.

 

This Is Not a Small Voice

make me wanna holler

ah, here come the women. There will be a whole week of love poems to celebrate Valentine’s Day. But I couldn’t wait one more day before pulling out Sonia Sanchez’s Shake Loose My Skin (published by Beacon Press, UUs!)

This is not a small voice
you hear          this is a large
voice coming out of these cities.
This is the voice of LaTanya.
Kadesha. Shaniqua. This
is the voice of Antoine.
Darryl. Shaquille.
Running over waters
navigating the hallways
of our schools spilling out
on the corners of our cities and
no epitaphs spill out of their river mouths.

This is not a small love
you hear          this is a large
love, a passion for kissing learning
on its face.
This is a love that crowns the feet with hands
that nourishes, conceives, feels the water sails
mends the children,
folds them inside our history where they
toast more than…

View original post 52 more words

This is not a Beyonce Diss or Black Girl Magic Pt. 2

I want us all to remember who is actually making the magic here.  Who among us are the ghetto mermaids shopping at corner stores for lunches made of honey buns and cheese curls through thick ass bullet proof glass. I want us all to remember that the magic Beyonce just made isn’t possible without the girl who’s trying to figure out if she has enough money to make it to her job on time or is on probation for shoplifting kids clothes from Burlington.

I want us to remember the girls wearing the cheap bamboo earrings from the beauty supply store turning their earlobes grey and rough. The dark skinned girl getting laughed at because she’s wearing sunshine-colored lipstick from the same store, because she’s got on tights from Rainbow, and because she’s walking these streets until she scrounges enough money for her bus pass. This isn’t a Beyonce diss; I just want us to remember how vital the black girls who get dissed and laughed at, called sluts, thots and hoodrats are to this thing we call #blackgirlmagic.

These are the same black girls that go missing and nobody gives a damn. Turn up dead covered with bleach and get blamed for it. Get murdered by her baby daddy over diaper money and nobody even holds a vigil that ain’t from the same block as her. I loved #formation. I want us to love us more. I want us to love poor black girls and women so much that we don’t even bat an eye when a celebrity-black or not- claims their love for us because our love for us is evident at every turn. I want black girls and women to be valued even when they don’t know the latest social justice language, can’t read above a 6th grade level,  or that their lives are even #intersectional.

I want us to know the names of murdered black girls and women like we know the names of black men shot down by police. I want us to care about the messy black girls with 7 kids and 5 baby daddies who can’t get housing because she did a three month bid two years back. I want us to care about the black mothers being forced to have sex with their landlords in exchange for housing because nobody is really out here taking section 8. I want us to care about us before it gets hot on the radio. I want us to remember who is helping to make the magic that gave all of black america a visceral reaction.

I want us to remember what the cost of that magic, that ephemeral beauty is. The magic that really made the #worldstop. And I want formation to just be a tiny example of us paying attention to us and loving us fiercely, not only when it’s commodified and cool. I want us to remember where that intellectual labor, that emotional and psychic labor comes from. #Blackgirlmagic is more than an anthem to sing to, it’s how we survive in a world that don’t love us or give a fuck about us everyday.

My Black Girl Magic

I’ve seen a few articles, most recently the one written by Linda Chavers on Elle Magazine, disputing #BlackGirlMagic. I think that any title that one does not give oneself, one is free to reject. I also see how #BlackGirlMagic can tipple over into the territory of #StrongBlackWoman.

For me, however, #BlackGirlMagic reverberates through me and gives me the space to be an exist. As a working mother of five beautiful beings, black girl magic is a title that allows me to be more than just a mule, a vessel for suffering, a statistic. Black Girl Magic is the vehicle that gives me the space to claim my full humanity, a participant in the creation of beauty that defies a system that is designed so that I do not survive. Black Girl Magic is my resistance and my testimony. Black Girl Magic is me reveling in how sweet life can be as well as accessing the sometimes overwhelming rage and grief I feel in the midst of constant attacks on my being, just for existing. It is me existing where I am as who I am. Black Girl Magic is me taking the days that I have spent lying on the floor barely being able to move, the suicide attempts and hospitalizations and abuse and sexual assaults and still being able to exist in this world.

I think Black girls are miracles; not because we are superhuman and above pain and suffering; but that we continue to exist in a world that does not want us. It is continuing to dream and spill out those dreams and share those dreams against the onslaught of violence that denies that we have them at all. It is seeing the magnificent truth of my ultimate worthiness in spite of what tells me that I am not worthy at all. It is me knowing that my life is tied to a rhythm that is older, deeper and more vital than misogynoir and that that rhythm, that essence, that divine calling is what I answer to. It is loving my flesh, my heart, because yonder they do not love it.

It is the magic that Lucille Clifton evokes in her poem, “Won’t You Celebrate With Me”:

won’t you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding tight
my other hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.

And no, I don’t always feel “magical”. Some days I want to roll over and die. Some nights I go to sleep hoping I don’t wake up. I feel scared, alone, grief stricken and overwhelmed a lot. But I don’t think that this is in opposition to Black Girl Magic. I think that, for me at least, the whole point of Black Girl Magic is the understanding that we are not less because we are suffering, that we are not failures because we don’t measure up to some white supremacist patriarchial standard of long suffering mammy and strong black woman. Indeed, it is my ability to feel, to be vulnerable, to not go numb and cold that is magic in and of itself. I declare that my entire being- the whole of who I am- is magic and holy.

It is the understanding that we are magic because we exist, we breathe and we struggle to love ourselves and each other when by all accounts we should not. It is our telling the truth about who we are, about our pain, and still declaring that our lives have meaning, have worth, have value and are divine. It is the  prizmatik glory of the entire spectrum of black girlness. It is our continual push and protest to recreate the world in a way that sustains all of us Black girls.

Black Girl Magic is a celebration of our survival and existence and humanity, when and where we enter, not a narrowing of ourselves to an easily dismissed trope. And nobody deserves to be celebrated and to celebrate themselves more than Black girls, everywhere.

Black Girl Found

A letter to a younger me

 

I’m telling you right now, young girl, I will always come for you. I will come for you because nobody came for me and they should have. I’m talking to the young girl struggling in school and struggling with suicidality. I’m talking to the one who is constantly in fights and doesn’t go to school & no one really seems to miss you. I’m talking to the one preyed on by the r. kelly’s in the world. Who are desired and grow into women that are needed but never loved. I mean loved in that deep down soul way that you don’t have to walk through the world with a metal rod for a spine and a stone jaw because someone fucking loves you. I mean to tell you that I fucking love you. I’m telling you young girl, when you run away you don’t have to run to that grown man who is not your boyfriend but you think he is. You can run to me and you can tell me about all the ways you hurt. and I will make you tea and I will  protect you. Because nobody protected me, and they should have. You deserved to be protected. Not just prayed over and preyed on, but loved so deeply you never have to question your commitment to this world. Let me tell you how beautiful you are. Let me tell you how you are made of stardust and not crushed glass. Let me tell you to think about your future. Because I am 33 and I am just now thinking that I am maybe going to live to be an old woman. I never thought I would live past 21 and I am glad that I did. Let me tell you, young girl, that you can make it. That I believe in you. That I trust in the importance of your life, and that I will fight for you. I will always fight for you. Because nobody fought for me and they should have. And when things happen that rip you apart, that make you question your value and your worth in this world, I will grieve with you. And I will hold up a mirror to your face and remind you every minute of every day of your goodness, of your rightness, of your destiny.

I don’t feel any ocean left in me

0.

One day I just washed up on shore. tangle of seaweed, two legs I didn’t know how to use. And dry. So dry. It was a word that I had been taught but never understood fully, even when I would take brief excursions to sunning on briny rocks, far away from people.

“humans ruin everything,” mom used to whistle harshly under her breath. “always poking around where they have no business.” Mom was a drowner. She hated her job, hated culling anything that she couldn’t eat, but she was the best hunter in our pod, and so she was, of course, a drowner.

I lay there on the beach for a while, not understanding what had happened, only that I could not return. Every breath felt like sandpaper inside my newly formed lungs. I closed my eyes and tried to sleep.

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2. Of course, we were like them once. Grand Mama walked off the coast of this same shore and never looked back. They didn’t make it to the home they were looking for. They walked and grieved and got lost in a storm that moved the ocean sideways from the stars and got their maps confused.

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3. I have legs. Breasts. Hips. I don’t know how to move in this place. The rhythm on land is harder, more demanding. I see so many of us that have washed ashore. I wonder what this is about. We come to each other, in the coffee shops that we live in, the libraries, the internet we catch each other with. We come to each other at night. Having legs. Breasts. Hips. Means something in this world. I’m not quite sure.

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4. I have dreams that I am a drowner. That I am snatching some person with blue skin down from the top of our home and skinning them gently while they squirm away from me, trying to breathe their can of air bubbles. I take off their mask and they are so pearly and raw, flaccid like babies. I hate to drown them. But this is our home.

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5. I discover that we who have been washed ashore are black. and none of us know how to get back. Every once in a while, somebody thinks they have found the answer. They usually end up washed ashore again, drowned or defeated and half insane. The insane ones walk around with seaweed in their hair all the time, talking about Atlantis. Atlantis is not real, at least that much I know. Sometimes, one of us has slipped away, and does not come back. They do not tell us that they are going. But they go. And they do not come back. We notice.

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6. I got my first jellyfish sting the other day. I do not think I can ever go back now. I taste like the enemy to the ocean, so dry. I read about shark attacks and I think that I can no longer call the sharks my Great Aunts and Uncles. Because I am raw now as well.

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7.  My lover is one that is not like me. He says that I smell like the ocean, and some days slightly fishy. I thank him. He is confused. Buys me perfume. But he loves my skin. rubs my nipples like talisman and that sends waves of pleasure through my body. I feel like bursting and I want him to rub my nipples more. Nobody has done this before, and I ask him to do this all the time. He gets bored with my nipples, and he tells me so. His eyes remind me of a replica of the ocean. He leaves me. I want to find more people with eyes like oceans. Maybe they can take me home.

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8. I go to the swimming pool. I watch them in their bathing suits, looking like half open oysters. Moving through the water, Ssmetimes I think they move like us, and other times they flail like they are fighting the water. I step in. The water is different than what I know. It moves against my body different. Or it may be that my body is strange to me now. It is indifferent, compliant. I cannot dance with it. I wade in up to my shoulders, my neck, and I stop, unsure. The water doesn’t speak to me. I don’t know how to use these legs, these feet. I get out of the swimming pool, feeling even more dried out than I had before.

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9. Black is a funny word. It is empty, like the water in the pools, It seems to be a prefix that means “not”, or “exception”. None of us. It feels like never knowing what it feels like to be who we were. We don’t talk about who we were. It doesn’t seem to be relevant now. The people here don’t like us. When I see ones with blue eyes, they don’t look like oceans to me anymore. They look like I mean “not”. They don’t know anything about “home”. Some days I feel like I mean “not”. I try to slip my tongue around the words I used to speak, but my tongue doesn’t work the same. These words I use now, They are like a shackle on my tongue. I used to think that shackles were jewelry when mom used to show me the shackles that GrandMama turned into teeth when she turned shark. Thick, ugly jewelry. But I know what shackle means now.

________________________________________________________________________

10. I have another lover. black like me. She goes by Star. She makes me homesick too much. Because she’s dry and wet at the same time. We fight a lot. When she cries I lick her tears and they remind me of home. She says I’m dry and wet too. I don’t feel any ocean left in me, but she says she does. We fight and then we kiss and then we remember things together. Sometimes when we fight, she leaves and then I go looking for her for days. I always find her again. I hate the feeling. It feels so good that I’m afraid that she is not real. And we fight so that I can make her real. And then we kiss and I remember. Too many days like this. It’s like another shackle. I begin to count time by the days. The days that she is here and the days that she is gone.

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11. I have a baby in me. In the ocean, we would always have twins. But when I go to the doctor, it is one, only one. The doctor asks me who the father is. I say the baby has no father. The doctor looks at me like I am “not”. I look back at him because I want him to know that I am, even though I have no words for what I am. He looks away like he does not even see me anymore. He tells me that everything is fine, and I should come back in a month. I am lonely. All this time on land and I have forgotten about my twin.

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12. I have been looking for her for 8 days. I give up. I don’t want this baby in me anymore. I go to the clinic and they vacuum me out for $425.00. I am bleeding but I am ok. I go home, feeling a storm in me. I sleep for 3 days.

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13. My twin comes to me in a dream. There is a storm in the ocean and my twin is calling for me because all of the pod has to move. Twin says that they need all the drowners and that I am supposed to be next-in-line. Twin shouts at me. “Wake up! Come Home!” and I wake up. But I cannot go home. I go to the corner store for a bag of flaming hot cheetos. The bleeding between my legs annoys me, and I adjust my pad all the way down the street. “We need drowners,” I say to myself out loud.

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14. I don’t understand how we are all here, we have all come from the ocean, and yet none of us know each other. None of us remember the names of our pods. We know that we had them,  but we cannot speak their names or see their faces in our minds, except sometimes when we dream. We remember only broken bits of our stories. We talk and try to piece it together, sometimes, until somebody sucks their teeth and mumbles how ridiculous the whole conversation is. I remember my dream, though. And I remember twin, even though I cannot remember twin’s name. Maybe there is a way to go home. I do not say anything to the others when I am in the library with them. I am quiet, thinking.

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15. The other humans have begun to cull us. It is on the news everyday. They say that we break the law. They have their own drowners when people break the law. But sometimes we don’t know the laws that we are breaking, because we try to act like them, to fit in. And when they break the law, they don’t cull themselves. Sometimes we even study the law and tell the drowners what the books say and they still cull us.

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16. I have started to feel afraid, all of the time. Fear. Fear for no reason is new to me, and I shake it away, but it still grows in me like seaweed. Maybe from the place the baby was growing. I wonder where Star went. I hope that somehow she made it back to the ocean. I hope she wasn’t culled.