Sunday, August 18, 2013

Write Me Real: Arty Type Reflections

I had one of those Ah-ha! moments in the night.  How all my past experiences, school lessons, family life and even the random moments of life have served me in the present for my purpose in life. To write. And I saw so clearly how I am fulfilling that purpose. There are other purposes that we serve at times that are unanticipated. But this purpose has been greatly anticipated. I've struggled against it. Fourght it. Denied it. Betrayed it. And deeply, passionately, joyfully loved it. 


The evil side of my thoughts managed by Doubt tried to sneak into my epiphany and trick me. But I felt the lie. It's not so hard to kick the Doubt to the side in this instance. 

I once met a clairvoyant on a plane who proceeded to tell me about myself (correctly). She knew that I was in love  (but of course she could have guessed). She could have just been a mentalist of course. She told me that she sensed I was a writer.  Actually her words were that I was  an "artist". I remember thinking "not so much, lady." Because I wasn't actually writing at the time. Not for myself at least. I was in grad school at the time (and hating it too.) 

At the time I wouldn't claim my writing as my real occupation and desire because I didn't feel "real". 


I fell in love.  And the words came spilling out like tears. They spilled out WITH the tears. This was a different love from the one I was living at the time I met the psychic, and he was a much better man in every way . But I had loved that other man so hard, so intensely and so consumingly that I nearly lost myself.  I did lose myself. The love that brought the writing out was a different kind of love. The kind of love that you know could last a lifetime. The kind of love that raises a family and grows old together. It was a love where we were two people properly yoked as the Bible tells that lovers should be. That's what brought the writing out of me. 


Love from the soul refuses to be denied. Love is a trickster at times. It comes in the guise of a lover of one stripe and then expresses itself in an entirely different form. When you stop fighting the expression and open to it freely then you become "real".  

My true love -- my writing -- came to me in the guise of a man (also a writer). He didn't stay. When he was gone I was broken hearted. 

And I had plenty of material. Because the writing wouldn't be denied. Honestly I didn't grieve as much over that  lost love as I have for other loves. I had no time. I was busy. With my writing. But God he was beautiful.  

 But it was impossible to put the words back inside the secret place.  One day I started to remember the psychic and I remembered her prediction that in my 30s I would blossom in my art. It doesn't matter whether she was "real" or not. Her prediction gives me nothing and it takes nothing away either. But I became real then in the midst of that love, in my early 30s as she had foretold. 

All of my closest friends were artists in college, but creativity never came to me as easily as it seemed to come from them. I was that person who surrounded herself with creative people yet produced nothing but excuses out of fear. Then I was 33 that I started to focus myself to sweat and bleed it out...that's how hard creativity was for me. Still is somedays. When I started talking about my work to my creative/arty friends they all said that it was similarly difficult for them. Though I still wonder if that's true when I see them successful and so prolific, producing such true and beautiful work. 

In the beginning I worked in secret. I didn't tell anyone what I was doing when I was locked away in my room or working on the computer for twelve hours a stretch. It was a form of denial. I eeked out the kernel and meat of my first novel in a few months once I began to own creativity. It has no structure and rambles aimless yet I love the characters and the historical backdrop of that first story. 

But in those early days I owned my art treacherously, with all the hypocrisy that you offer a lover with whom you secretly consort because your family disapproves. In refusing to honor that love I shamed it. My family used to rag on me "If you'd go write a damn book we wouldn't have to be so poor!"..."You can DO it you're just being lazy!"..."Why aren't you WRITING?" they'd say. They were teasing me but not.

 I sort of knew on the inside that I was not-writing out of cowardice and fear. And that's really the lamest reason to not create. There are thousands of unpleasant things we do as humans all the time so why deny yourself a thing that you love? 

I didn't really know then that I would fall in love with writing. But I coveted the talent, the work, the process - even the blood and sweat and tears.  I read and thought "I could do this!! I could do BETTER than this!!" So I continued not doing it because there is a perverse gratification in dreaming of something rather than risking oneself. Truth is that the risk is where the joy comes in.

It is exhausting NOT doing something that is actually  innate to one's instinct. It is stressful and even damaging to one's nature. It is a sort of self inflicted wounding to the soul. "Doctor it hurts when I do this."..."So stop doing this," says the doctor.

I want to write the way Adele sings and causes chill bumps when you listen to "Rolling in the Deep"

I want to write with the technical skill and purity of Whiney Houston's voice in "I Will Always Love You."

With the emotion  and soul and indescribable quality of Truth at its most powerful. The way that Masters paint. With the strength and raw power of a boxer's punch. T
he athletic agility and creativity of Muhammed Ali. No one made such brutal effort appear almost easy and still so utterly, strangely beautiful.  

But even if I never attain those heights I can still happily scribble and type. This is where my life is. This is what comes from my passion. This is my greatest joy.


              ***************************************


Yet, truth be told  I still shame my gift every time I don't submit to publications out of fear that "it's not good enough". "It isn't ready" is my favorite excuse.And it's not a lie  which is the complicated part. But fear still rides me hard. 

That epiphany the other night, that I am doing precisely what I always wanted to do made me pause. I am a writer. I can claim it now. But I still have to bleed out the creativity at times. I don't know if that sense of insecurity and self consciousness lessens over time. But I am willing to discover the truth because this is what I do: I am a "real" writer, even if I am a cowardly at times. 

(Perhaps this is false though. Perhaps one can never be "real" until one gives over entirely? I harbor suspicions - or is that the doubt creeping in with its falsities? Ah the brain never stops with its chatter. Feel the truth. It's the only way. But what if....?) 

I am rather sure at this point that no Wizard can grant me courage. Certainly I can traverse my own Yellow Brick Road to gain courage only my road is travelled and re-crossed on white paper with black print. 

The only person who matters in this contest is my Self. "Are you for real?" I am asking myself as I write. Always.

"Ah! Well prove it," my Self replies.

Nothing makes me happier.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

These Things Which Are Mine To Keep


(This poem was featured in Afrolemodele.com in March 2013)

Love is


a dis-ease
in the blood
lies dormant
incubates & debilitates
the heart, muscle, nerves
mind,the dis-ease
it longs to roam
it desires to thrive
no cure
for this can be dispensed
by pharmacists and shrinks
yet the suffering
Increases:
longing,desperation, and thirst
Drink: poison
from a lover's mouth
from his lips

Whispered secrets
 -gently, gently-
the merest caress
(lies)
Soft, as a kiss
Sing, my foolishness
my delusion
my melody of weakness
of heart, of body
that craved & pined
for the poverty of your love, true

I was chasing my dragon;
I was mainlining you

Antidote Unknown
they say it is Time
the pain lingers, never lessens
throbs & whines
to an hysterical beat
late in the night
in wakefulness and fatigue
pulses and weeps
sighs, begs, calls
"come back to me"

Missing the pressure
of your love
pressed onto mine
your distance
your absence
in the night
my soul calling to yours
with panicked
cries

alleviate this sickness
kiss me again
as when you loved me before
the way you did back then

Afterward to your ghost
I plead
Just leave me.
Please let me rest.
Go away let me
be among the whispers
of the past
no matter
if they be perceptible
only to me

Here, amidst my treasures,
that I hold deep inside
where that broken love
so long bereft
lives on
in spite of your abandonment

This: my love: my deepest secret

These memories are mine,
these secret lover's oaths
all have been breached
they are fractured, unhealed
in broken disrepair
yet to memory's senses
fresh, still aware
these, too, are mine
they belong to me
to have
to hold
to obey
to cherish and keep

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Black Women on the Journey Out of Hell: Becoming a Soul Mistress

More Thoughts on Angry Black Women: From Self Destructor to Survivor

The next  competition to be conquered  by  black women -- the much maligned  Angry Black Women -- can only be won by harnessing that passionate energy and directing one's  intensity for creative and productive purpose.  There is real danger  should that anger be allowed to fester: if it is not re-directed in a positive fashion it can eat you alive. Witness already vulnerable  black women imperil themselves with excessive weight and food addictions, crippling depression and other untreated mental illness,as well as other chronic medical ailments like diabetes, heart disease, pelvic pain. Allowed to turn inward, that anger destroys the Self, and in the meantime it can make everyone around  that woman  miserable as well. 


The grief of watching mothers, sisters, wives, daughters killing themselves slowly by supping on anger is a familiar experience to black men and women.

There is a great well of power within black women who are the most expert survivors in American culture. But they are experts in suicidal behavior as well, which is what swallowed pain, anger and despair amounts to. If we look at some of the great icons of black creativity  like  Ntozake Shange, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Iyanla Vanzant, Oprah, Michelle Obama we see women who  have grappled with these issues of self destructiveness in their personal lives in the past and possibly in the present, but they have managed to harness some of that energy into positive  creativity via art, writing, spirituality and social outreach. These roads of creativity are the ultimate saviours, saving us from ourselves.

What is the quick and easy way to analyze one's anger, to change it into productivity? 
Is there a formula for this? In short: NO there is no formula, there is no EASY way to positivity and productivity. Many women - myself included - are often taken to the brink of death before they learn that in order to survive the only choice in life is change. 

And it is a terrifying journey, that Only Choice/ Change issue. It is a lonely journey. But the spirit improves over time. You develop greater strength, even when  the terrain becomes daunting the deeper you travel into  previously unexplored territory....

We,  the Angry Black Women, are seekers in the quest  for Validation. Acceptance. Success. Creativity. Spirituality. Safety. Security. Unconditional Love.

We are seeking Peace. But the Truth that you must contend with before these gifts can ever be attained is that  only YOU are responsible for your own success or failure.

Those virtues are attainable. Yet, no one denies that the road is long and hard. Just the fight for stability in one's life amidst the struggles with bills, under-employment at low wage jobs, student loans, and family responsibility threaten us with overwhelming despair in the face of one's fragile and newly formed determination. These challenges are the  mundane  distractions, real and frustrating, difficulties that we all face. 

But the first task in developing and strengthening that spiritual determination is a simple one: begin  each day in the soft quiet embrace of meditation. Focus in complete silence and get in touch with one's soul. In this wayyou begin to take responsibility for your well being and discover the whys and wherefores of one's  anger and other emotions as well. This is the essential first step. Prepare to be surprised continuously once you begin this journey. Make room for a new friend in your life; make room for the side of your Self  that you have never seen before.

The holy grail that you seek upon  this visionquest is  Peace. From the outside forces beyond our control. From racism and sexism. From ourselves. And we are seeking the comfort of that Self that we know exists inside though it has hidden itself away in fear.

This is the journey out of hell. It is travel from the suicidal pact of self  destruction to the ultimate freedom that accompanies self- mastery. Every black woman who has experienced suffering --through racism, sexism, the demons of addiction, and the heartbreaking  routine of inane "work" which provides little income yet still denies one the opportunity of true expression -- is on a journey.

 Your final destination -- like Alice's trek across Wonderland to the Eighth Square --  ends at the place where you shall be crowned in majesty as the Soul Mistress of power and love that is inside. The gift is the return to Self.

What every black woman seeks is to become the Mistress of her own Fate and  Queen of her Soul. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Deconstructing the Angry Black Woman: Shacondria Unchained

First off let's place  Anger in it's proper context. Anger is a vital element and essential stop off point in the journey of self realization. And the journey self realization begins at the subway station where it becomes clear by the merest suspicion that something is wrong - not just in one's own personal world but in the world  at large that includes all souls. Self realization moves thru many stages no different from  Elizabeth Kubler Ross's stages of grief. In fact the journey travels  through all of those stages, but has the potential to end with a peaceful and even happy acceptance. But let's be real: long travels and extended journeys -- especially in the economy cabin -- are tiring and stressful. Who doesn't feel some intense emotion on a journey? That's just human. So let's first contextualize this discussion by noting that Angry Black Women, so-called, are on a journey and they are in that particular leg of the trip where the travel has become hardest and most unbearable. And that woman who is the strongest of women just can't  take it anymore.  

I was watching Chris Rock's concert Bigger and Blacker recently on Youtube and reviewing the extreme variety of comments so idiosyncratic of that site when I read the top voted post under one of his routines: "Yes black women have such big ego problems." This comment  only proved that the commenter totally misunderstood Chris Rock's routine frankly, but it  seemed to me indicative of  a  common judgement of black women by white Americans who are chief recipients of privilege and entitlement in society. That disdain and dismissal of the black female's worth and humanity by reducing her personality to a Psychology Lite diagnosis of  "ego problems" is hurtful. Those same judges tend to consistently overlook the fact that black women have historically functioned as the lowest rung of social entities on that ladder of rank and privilege. 

According to the social scale of white supremacy a black man will always be beneath all whites, and everyone sits atop the black female. So, yes, in that sense one could say that black women encounter ego problems.

This is communicated in numerous ways and means but black women are never left in the dark regarding the very specific judgements of white counterparts because we are told ever so clearly and succinctly that we do not measure up. Black women in America are non-conformist in their very being. Every black female I know in my generation  (EVERY ONE, ALL) at some point has been told by a white person  "You know you do your job well but some people think you have a chip on your shoulder sweetie".

Shacondria: Really? Is that what people think? Can you give me their names so I can beat the shit out of them?

*Politrixie stares mournfully across the room at the speaker*

Okay. I didn't say that nor did anyone else I know. But that is Shacondria over there who just said that, um, violent thing. She doesn't mean it.

S: Oh yes!! I mean it!! Don't tell me what I mean to say!!

*le sigh*

Let's talk about Shacondria. You won't know about her because I don't see her so often anymore. But there was a time when Shacondria and I were really tight.  I mean, I know her as well as I know myself--

S: You are a simple, silly bitch. I am yourself, idiot!!

Shacondria is my evilene ego-trippin Angry Black Woman self. My other personality. I knew if I tried to discuss this subject that she might hear me ...but I thought she was sleep and maybe I'd get away with it. And I admit that she - um, we  have some legitimate issues. It's cool. I'm open. I know there's work that me and Shacondria need.

But the bottom line is that  she doesn't need is to be continually told by entitled white male kingpins of our society about how she could more effectively go about slinking beneath the oppressive weight of every superior individual's criticisms in order to conform to the black female Miss Celie- stereotype. I mean maybe one day the time will come when we can have that conversation as whites and blacks but right now we're still in the stage where folks need to do some seriously listening and learning and understanding.

And, lord, let's don't even get on the topic about how the paler nation transmits its disapproval of her name. Respectable Negro types too. People don't even pretend to try to address her courteously.

Leave it to the black woman's oracle Alice Walker to discuss the truth in her seminal essay "In Search of Our Mother's Gardens" in which she identifies the stereotypical roles of black women from  the "mule of the world" to Sapphira to Evilene. Is there any other race that is granted so many rich, complex but negative stereotypes? I don't know. I think black women have a serious lead in the race. Black women are maybe just coming into their own where they can be seen as individuals of high capability and promise. We're maybe beginning to stop being mules in the eyes of the Man. But not quite. 

So before those of you related to the Man go to judging maybe try a little compassion first. Here let me help--

The thing that takes Shacondria all the way there is the arbitrary method that white folks go about identifying their bete noir, the Angry Black Woman. It makes no damn sense. Because first and foremost they go after her face.  Everyone has a face and every face has its  expressions. For some reason that I have never understood a black woman's blank straight-mouth face is always interpreted as a mean face or a sad face. I mean, maybe inside that woman does feel that way but Bitchy Resting Face is a thing now as I have heard but that doesn't mean that one should treat a woman bitchily. That's not nice, now is it?  

People get in your face and say dumb shit like "SMILE!!" It's startling to be thinking about your laundry when some stranger foists their own unfamiliar visage in yours and shouts something so inane. It is such a harsh and deeply unfair criticism to be picked on for how you look, and black women are always being told their hair is too nappy, their asses too big,  lips too full. We have never been able to conform to bodily stereotypes and then you go and tell me my face is unsatisfactory? 

 Sometimes people are sincerely  inquiring  if you're alright, sure, I know. But  I've never understood the perception. Why is the straight face, the I'm-just-minding-my own-business-face on black women so threatening to some whites? 

 Don't you think it's hurtful to be told so in so many different and vividly expressive ways?

Perhaps black women just don't tend to look dewy, doe eyed as a rule. I don't know. But nothing makes one more self conscious than to be told that your Minding-My-Own-Business Face is intimidating. How would you feel if that continually happened to you? 

Because it's happened countless times to Shacondria. I know she feels self-conscious. Because she's so often told that she just doesn't conform; she can never quite pull off the trick of invisibility - and she tries so hard.  

S: So don't fucking look at my face. Fuck you.

ME: SHACONDRIA!! STOP IT!!!

S: Don't tell me to stop, you silly-ass bitch!! I'm not stopping nuthin!! Fuck them people!! I do my work. Pay me and let me go the fuck home. I hate them crazy ass white people!!

ME: Okay but you're not helping this situation and I'm trying to explain why--

S: Fuck helping!! I don't feel like helping nobody!! Somebody need to help me!! Help me pay this goddamn rent and ---

ME: Okay see that's exactly what people don't understand. You're shouting and cursing. You're way up in my face, girl. Back up. And why are you so mean ALL THE TIME. Nobody can say a damn word to you without you rolling your eyes and--

S: See!! That ain't even true. I don't act that way. Why do people get to lie on me and when I say something to defend myself I get called a hater and shit?

It ain't fair! Those white people who say that shit are crazy. Crazy and mean because that's essentially what racism and sexism is about at the end of the day! But I'm the one with a problem?! Excuse me for living! OOH!! Makes me so mad!

I don't act that way because my mother raised me with manners! So why don't I deserve to be treated with manners?! Them white people got your head fucked up, girl. I do my job. I do my job well. I don't bother nobody. I mind my own business and do what I'm told. 

Then people get in my face and talk about "You got a CHIP on your shoulder" What the fuck does that even mean? How about this you white muthaf---

ME: Whoa!! whoa!! CHILL OUT!! SHACONDRIA!! You need to calm down!!

S: I need to whup your ass is what!! Up taking up for the Man are you? Why don't you and Don Lemon hook up!!

*dead silence, hateful glare from Shacondria to Politrixie, heat radiating in increasing temperature. Danger!! Danger!!*

*looking warily at Shacondria, moving far away, looks at audience*

Anyway. Look here's what you've got to understand: Shacondria is angry. She is alright? You don't know her life but she's had a hard time. Yes that's no excuse to be mean and angry. But what you're not considering is that Shacondria has no one but herself. She is alone in the world. She can't lean on anyone. There's no one there to lean on. She pays her own bills - on time.  She works hard and responsibly.

But she is naked and vulnerable in the world to all the worst hates and judgments, and these are powerful forces that work upon our souls. We are shaped by the worlds we live in: if Shacondria is so intimidating yet she is the least powerful of all those who number the social classes, what does that say about how we treat those who most need protection?

So do a lot of people but they don't act that way. You're right. But you know Shacondria isn't STUPID. Calling her names and judging her and refusing to try to get to know the person in that brown skin behind Bitchy Resting Face only means that you have already invalidated her and demeaned her as a human being. You made an assumption about her without knowing. She's smart. I mean, deeply intelligent. She's not  the "mule of the world" but she isn't unaware of that her condition in this life amounts to that at times. Shacondria  knows what you think about her. She knows that you are judging her. That you feel threatened enough to not bother to try to humanize her by understanding her.

I used to be her. She used to be really un-self aware. But now she isn't and that's why she's angry. She knows that there are so many things wrong in the world and that in a wrong world no one is more vulnerable to mistreatment than the least of these, of whom black women prominently number. You think that because Oprah has a network and Michelle wears pretty dresses in the White House that discrimination is dead. 

See that's what I'm trying to tell you.
Shacondria knows that isn't true. 

She knows that for every beloved mainstream token that white America chooses to adopt, it merely hides the millions of unnoticed, unloved, unheard black women like her. And while the favored black representative lives well and parties well and becomes the face of the Black Woman, she is breaking her back everyday. The Special Ones merely distract from and obscure the condition of the Dispossessed classes who struggle daily without making the damnedest stride ahead. And no one cares.

Shacondria knows a lot of things. She's probably the most insightful individual in American culture among the myriad vegetables in the Salad Bowl. Cuz that's another thing this ain't no Melting Pot. Unless you want to say that maybe other folk melt and blend in the cauldron and Shacondria and women like her are the charcoal. Do you see what I'm saying?  Bet you never thought about where the fire came from to make the heat for that chemical melting process.

Well it's us in the fire, and for sure the Native Americans can't even give off enough proper fuel anymore there's so few of them left.  Poor folks of all colors. The Dispossessed classes defy color and they provide the fuel, and do the burning in the fire beneath the Melting Pot.  Shacondria belongs to the Dispossessed, and she knows it.

No, it is not cynicism. She knows that in her lifetime this will not change. Deep intuitive analysis that penetrates the very soul of our nation is located in the Dispossessed which you would know had you ever truly listened and tried to understand. It is a heavy load, a heavy burden to know that you can attend the barbecue as long as you burn and don't eat. It's a heavy load  on her back, that knowledge, and it is painful. And there just ain't no medicine for that kind of pain, outside of freedom. Freedom from the chains that bind the Dispossessed to the burden. And there isn't going to be any freedom for Shacondria until we listen and learn and change.

You remember that tale of the Lion with the thorn in his paw? Yeah. Pain makes you angry. Sure does. Shacondria wants to know when someone plans to come along and take the thorn out of her paw. The load from her back. She's been waiting a long time. She tried to call out for help and no one listens. The doctor is not in. He has left the building.

She's not so bad at all when she's not hurting. You'd be surprised if you got to know her. She's funny!! And so smart!! She can sing and dance and Paula Deen wish she could cook like Shacondria. She--

S: Fuck that bitch!! I can make my own Soul Food.

ME: Girl I'm not telling you again!!  And  stop with the cursing! Damn! They already think all of us are ghetto trash as it is and you are making it worse.
*mumbles* Crazy bitch. 
*loudly*   I ain't afraid of you so stop acting up.  I will put you out!! Now shut up.

*Shacondria begins taking off her jewelry, pulling her hair back. Grabs the vaseline to grease her face. Cracks her knuckles. She's preparing to fight Politrixie. *

*Politrixie looks on warily as Shacondria performs the necessary reverse toilet. Prepares to bolt*

ME: Look I got to deal with something just now.I'll be back later. This girl is trippin...      

*sets out at a dead run*

                                 **************************************

TEXT: Um, check it out. I can't talk just now because Shacondria knocked me in my mouth for calling her a bitch. But I didn't finish what I was saying. I'll come finish our talk -- you know, like, after my face unswells. But don't be mad at her. I love her. She is me.  I know her heart. But I mean, straight up, she needs some counseling for real. 
~Politrixie :@ mwa! 

Next Installment in the Deconstruction of the Angry Black Woman:Black Women on a Journey Out of Hell

Black Women on the Journey Out of Hell: Becoming a Soul Mistress


More Thoughts on Angry Black Women: From Self Destructor to Survivor

The next  competition to be conquered  by  black women -- the much maligned  Angry Black Women -- can only be won by harnessing that passionate energy and directing one's  intensity for creative and productive purpose.  There is real danger  should that anger be allowed to fester: if it is not re-directed in a positive fashion it can eat you alive. Witness already vulnerable  black women imperil themselves with excessive weight and food addictions, crippling depression and other untreated mental illness,as well as other chronic medical ailments like diabetes, heart disease, pelvic pain. Allowed to turn inward, that anger destroys the Self, and in the meantime it can make everyone around  that woman  miserable as well. 


The grief of watching mothers, sisters, wives, daughters killing themselves slowly by supping on anger is a familiar experience to black men and women.

There is a great well of power within black women who are the most expert survivors in American culture. But they are experts in suicidal behavior as well, which is what swallowed pain, anger and despair amounts to. If we look at some of the great icons of black creativity  like  Ntozake Shange, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Iyanla Vanzant, Oprah, Michelle Obama we see women who  have grappled with these issues of self destructiveness in their personal lives in the past and possibly in the present, but they have managed to harness some of that energy into positive  creativity via art, writing, spirituality and social outreach. These roads of creativity are the ultimate saviours, saving us from ourselves.

What is the quick and easy way to analyze one's anger, to change it into productivity? 
Is there a formula for this? In short: NO there is no formula, there is no EASY way to positivity and productivity. Many women - myself included - are often taken to the brink of death before they learn that in order to survive the only choice in life is change. 

And it is a terrifying journey, that Only Choice/ Change issue. It is a lonely journey. But the spirit improves over time. You develop greater strength, even when  the terrain becomes daunting the deeper you travel into  previously unexplored territory....

We,  the Angry Black Women, are seekers in the quest  for Validation. Acceptance. Success. Creativity. Spirituality. Safety. Security. Unconditional Love.

We are seeking Peace. But the Truth that you must contend with before these gifts can ever be attained is that  only YOU are responsible for your own success or failure.

Those virtues are attainable. Yet, no one denies that the road is long and hard. Just the fight for stability in one's life amidst the struggles with bills, under-employment at low wage jobs, student loans, and family responsibility threaten us with overwhelming despair in the face of one's fragile and newly formed determination. These challenges are the  mundane  distractions, real and frustrating, difficulties that we all face. 

But the first task in developing and strengthening that spiritual determination is a simple one: begin  each day in the soft quiet embrace of meditation. Focus in complete silence and get in touch with one's soul. In this wayyou begin to take responsibility for your well being and discover the whys and wherefores of one's  anger and other emotions as well. This is the essential first step. Prepare to be surprised continuously once you begin this journey. Make room for a new friend in your life; make room for the side of your Self  that you have never seen before.

The holy grail that you seek upon  this visionquest is  Peace. From the outside forces beyond our control. From racism and sexism. From ourselves. And we are seeking the comfort of that Self that we know exists inside though it has hidden itself away in fear.

This is the journey out of hell. It is travel from the suicidal pact of self  destruction to the ultimate freedom that accompanies self- mastery. Every black woman who has experienced suffering --through racism, sexism, the demons of addiction, and the heartbreaking  routine of inane "work" which provides little income yet still denies one the opportunity of true expression -- is on a journey.

 Your final destination -- like Alice's trek across Wonderland to the Eighth Square --  ends at the place where you shall be crowned in majesty as the Soul Mistress of power and love that is inside. The gift is the return to Self.

What every black woman seeks is to become the Mistress of her own Fate and  Queen of her Soul. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Snowden White and the Dark Reality of Living Under the Power of the Surveillance Dwarfs





Remember in the movie Friday when Ice Cube got fired from his job for being accused of stealing some boxes? That's why he's hanging out smoking weed wtih Chris Tucker because they said he stole some boxes. And the whole film everybody's like "You got fired on a Friday? So did you do it?" and he's like "NO I did not!! But they tryna say they got me on video tape". It's bullshit but still he gets fired.


Now try to  you conceive of the enormity of what this  Snowden has stolen from the US government and revealed? I can't really understand the rage Snowden produces in me but I have to examine it especially since I've been writing about my family. I think it's the fact that he worked FOR the machine and then pulls this "Oh I'm so shocked routine".

But my family has BEEN under federal surveillance before; I had family members who broke federal gambling laws. The state I live in has a state lottery because they saw how successful my grandfather's operation was: they wanted to compete and beat the competition. But as always the government stiffs are retarded and don't know that gamblers don't give a fuck who runs the operation as long as they get paid fairly. They like to spread the money around so the state lottery didn't hurt grandpa's enterprise. In fact he made more money because he had a license to set up state lottery machines in his places.

So as a person who has endured that panic when picking up the phone and thinking "Are they listening? Am I going to get in trouble?"I can relate to Snowden's revelations all too well. No matter if you're calling your mama to say you're sick at school or she calls to tell you to bring home milk... THEY are likely listening. And soon you just accept it and live your life. You convince yourself that there's some justice in the world and yeah they may be after your daddy or your husband but you've done no wrong. What can you do? You either let the paranoia eat you alive or you just say ....Fuck it...I gotta live.

I haven't ordered my father's or my grandfather's files under the Freedom of Information Act yet. I can't handle it just now. But I know for a fact that it exists because one day while my mom was working at her lawyer's, as she went back to school for her paralegal license, an FBI agent came in. He noted her name and cheerfully told her that they had an inch thick file on one family member. Though he admitted that through their spying they knew her to be an absolute innocent.

You can't imagine the shame. The embarrassment. The impotent rage. To be violated in such a manner is so close to rape that it creates a dark paranoid fear inside that you never truly get rid of. To be mocked by a total stranger, a government officer of the law no less? You just learn to live with it. But it makes a dark anger inside you.

So I think that when I look at Snowden discuss the freedoms he presumed were his natural rights as an American I laugh. The men who wrote so eloquently in the Federalist Papers and the Bill of Rights were slaveholders for the most part and those rights were reserved for white male property owners alone. Had he attended school he might know that. He might have understood earlier that he had signed up to play the fool when he decided to work for the Man in the first place.

So on the one hand I applaud his efforts in bursting the bubble that the more naive and sheltered American mind may still function under,, but I feel angry and offended at his presumption as well. And why should I? Why should I care if the governments's illegal, immoral and unjust secrets are revealed?



It's not that I care about that. It's that I'm FURIOUS for having to have to endure such an invasion of privacy. And no one knew. You can't exactly go to grade school feeling down and tell your teacher "The FBI beat up my daddy." But that did happen though not when I was in grade school; it happened as my mother stood pregnant and watched as the agents beat my father in public on the sidewalk.   

And my experience is way way back in the ancient 70s and 80s. Now surveillance is slick and you don't find bugs like in the movies. The interwebs make things so much simpler. But back in the day they had officers whose job it was to mix in and infiltrate your family or your business or friends. Sometimes they were hardass gum shoes all about the job. And sometimes they were on the take. The full range of the government's nastiness   can only really be known to those who are thought to be transgressors in some way or non-conformists. My grandfather's gambling operation was a victimless crime after all: no one was hurt and a good many people were helped by those winnings from the Numbers far more so than they were helped by an economy that rejected black in the larger scheme. 

But don't be lulled into the Man's Myth on surveillance: You don't have to actually have committed wrongdoing to be targeted. It can happen to you. Look at the newstories that have begun to trickle out of people receiving visits from the Men in Black for merely googling about pressure cookers. They can come after you for merely being a non-conformist. For committing "crimes" that don't even have names until they write up the paperwork which can ruin your life.

 In this respect Snowden has brought a strange  justice. The government's sins are coming to the top and must be answered for.  

So Snowden brings up a lot of complicated emotion. I am after all an American. I am not proud that my country has done these terrible things to truly innocent victims the world over.  But I am also incensed by Snowden's tone of surprise, his gosh-darn-it-I'm-not-gonna-take-it attitude. My family and I couldn't run away to China and Russia. We had to deal with it right here at home, day in and day out,  innocent and guilty. 

To me I'm merely surprised that there is any surprise to be felt over his revelations. Come on, in your heart of hearts did you really think they DON'T watch everything? Did you?

I'm sorry for you if you did. And I hope you never have to find out how terrifying it is to live under the heat, under the perpetual light of unjust violation and criminal governmental abuse that goes unpunished or unchecked. Because if you still believe in the words on those hallowed documents, if you still believe that there is something to fight for and to be reclaimed for this country then you are a person of courage and conviction, and, perhaps there is still time to make a change.

I doubt it. But that's me. I'm a bit jaded on this topic. And I will never stop feeling the rage I'm sure.   

This is dedicated to my dear mentor Dr. Mark Naison. One who knows.