Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Anti Depressant Bingo

Usually my yoga can pull me up out of most things but I started to notice that there was a problem. I wasn't bouncing back. Sleeping too much or not at all. Far too weepy. So I went to my doctor and he gave me an anti-depressant that had worked for me in the past. Two weeks he said and I should be feeling less blah the doctor says. So I'm very grateful that there is this kind of medicine. I know the drill. I've been here before. But this time I was smart and asked for help.

On the other hand I'm not real sure about my therapist yet. We're going to have to have a talk. I have a female therapist for the first time and she's my same age. And we sort of get along like girlfriends. Which can be a problem when your therapist uses 20 minutes of your own talk time telling you her problems.

Truthfully though listening to her actually shined a light on the fact that none of my problems are so bad or so unfixable nor are they so uncommon. My story is basically the same as everyone else in my age range. So as long as  the therapist and I can find a balance I should make some decent progress.

My doctor yesterday said for me not to feel bad especially since I was involved in so many efforts of self-improvement like therapy and yoga and then there's my writing as well. "This is really an ideal period in life to make changes, at your age. You have *SO* much life ahead of you," he said. "Be nice to yourself. You have a lot going on. Two to three weeks. You'll feel better."

So that was really nice. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Don't feel like a weakling if you find yourself not bouncing back as quickly from difficult or hurtful things in life. Be kind to yourself. Don't let yourself suffer because there's help. If you wouldn't let someone you love slide down a well then you certainly shouldn't do so yourself. Ask for help and it will be okay. Sometimes that helping hand makes all the difference.

Think: if this were happening to my best friend what would I say/do? Then you realize that you have options. Do your yoga. If you don't do yoga, start. Five minutes, sit quietly, clear your mind. But go to the doctor if you need to. You can't get effective answers from the Universe if you're too sick or depressed to pay attention.

So...two to three weeks. That's okay. I'm making a notation in my shoe calendar and I get a big treat in two weeks because I deserve a flipping treat!!

That's how you play Anti Depressant Bingo to WIN!!

In Search of Authentic Black Identity: A Journey and Discourse of Kanye West, Fried Chicken, Black Love and Neo-Negritude

Riddle me this: The Guardian' scritique of Yeezus included a lyric quote in which they spelled out one lyric as "nigger" even tho Kanye was deliberately referencing "nigga". I pointed this out in the Comments section and received a thorough drubbing from an African gentleman who challenged my blackness, my education and my general right to exist as a human being. But somehow *I think* it is rather significant and important to recall that all this drama is occurring because of a Kanye West music revue. Kanye West says ''nigga'' about as often as some people say the word ''the''

 My issue was simply that the Guardian ought to know the difference between the hip hop usage of ''nigga'' versus the racist usage of ''nigger''. But it also raised questions in my mind toward individuals who hold to strict Politics of Respectability in regard to the use of "nigga": Why the F*CK are you listening to hip hop?!! If you feel strongly that use of "nigga" is an indication of self-hatred in the Black American wo/man then perhaps you should not support hip hop, and Kanye West in particular. Because present day hip hop has a whole thing with Bling culture and Capitalism and stuff. You know?

Five people gave big ups to the  African gentleman's comment to me in the throwdown comments section: "You and you Afro-Americans are no brothers of mine!". I just don't understand why the lot of  you are all up in here lurking in the Kanye West music review comments section, mostly. So you're down for the whole thing with  returning the world back to its former sense of order and sensibility  when ''nigger'' just meant ''nigger'' and no one had to be confused?  No. I'm sorry but, no. And guess what? If you feel deeply opposed to the whole reclamation thing about "nigga" then really you need to  STAY THE HELL AWAY FROM HIP HOP MUSIC REVIEW SECTIONS AND HIP HOP MUSIC/STYLE/FASHION ETC as well. 

Africans feel very strongly on this issue and it's not that I don't understand it. Of course I do. But there is no such thing as a monopoly on authentic Black experience. I know a lot of people insist otherwise. A lot of people contend that authenticity means everything. (And yes I am going to finish this essay by citing "a lot people" rather than naming every single one. I do not know every single Black person who feels this way. I could perhaps look in Wikipedia but somehow I think they also do not know all the Black people who feel this way. Hence, I shall lean on the statement that "a lot of people" do feel this way so that I can make my point.)

But can we have this argument about the pros and cons of nigger/nigga and what that says about the Black experience somewhere other than a Kanye West-inspired comments section? Only because it is a discussion of such deep and critical nature that it needs to be open to all participants in the Black cultural experience so if we have the throwdown right here in the Guardian's review of the Yeezus album then a lot of folks will miss out. ("A lot of folks": I can name some of these individuals, but not all. 

It's sort of like being a PETA supporter while chilling at, say, a  Best Fried Chicken In The World Contest. Personally, I love fried chicken - which is also constantly under attack by hateful racists who seek to degrade Black folk as ignorant animals who love greasy chicken. I do not understand why the love of fried chicken can be specifically tied to such an un-logical conclusion but there it is. 

However,  I will not stop eating fried chicken because of some other person's hate, and I will not pretend to not enjoy fried chicken just if another black person tells me that enjoying fried chicken only encourages racism. As a matter of fact I have disobeyed my very own parents regarding this issue who forbade me at a young age from ever publicly acknowledging fried chicken as my preferred nourishment for this very reason. 

"That's tacky," they said. "You can enjoy fried chicken but you can't go  around telling people that! It's country and common, and it make us look bad." they said. "Us" being Black people but also my parents, in particular who were fretful of the consequences should it become known that I practiced such distressingly, revolutionary disobedience. But  what, I should be oppressed by their standards of culinary class simply  because they think certain food is  "low class" and "common"? Can I live? I mean, can I just be allowed to LIVE? 

Similarly some folk in the Black experience are not about to release ''nigga'' from the reclamation of 
the the word's origin. This brings up powerful and necessary discourse on what is the role of obedience and dis-obedience from an intra-cultural perspective as well as from the bondage of white expectation. How can we as Black people practice a politics of self-definition without bending to the poisonous elements of those former white masters and how they wish we would define ourselves for the sake of their comfort; in order to salve and relieve their  conscience in regard to historical wrongs and  present day social wrongs that borne out of white supremacy and privilege which continue to oppress non-whites, non-males, non-heterosexual Christian Capitalist-loving Americanss? Nevertheless the issue of cross-cultural bonding community-building transcending the divisions of race, class, religion etc is one more discourse that may have to be put aside until such time as Black people in all our own ethnic diversity can come to a place of healthy and authentic self-definition.

But the question of how one determines the means of said "agreement'' remains. Then there is the urgent discourse and process of actively rejecting and removing the most vile of the stimulants and depressants, hallucinogens, delusions, definitions, practices and assorted poisons of our white cultural inheritance. The inheritances of white domination and the systems devised to prop up the privileges of white supremacy are legion. Scratch the surface of historical white supremacy as an active systematic tool of nation building created to serve white privilege and white profit and you will discover the basic horrors of African colonialism via King Leopold of Belgium;  Caribbean colonialism and the extreme, torture based brutality of its slavery system; the scientific precision of American nation building beginning with the slave experiment and legally modified into Jim Crow, Black Codes and the prison system as  the foundation and primary substitute of Black oppression and continuation of  free labor system  after the Civil War. 
Blues Is Alright by Cheryl Chavee Banks Ferguson

This is merely a random and tiny portion of critical study that waits to  be researched and interrogated in the historical and often tragic collision during the initial encounter between white and black. This is merely the laziest detail that the most apathetic of researchers can discover in regard to the history Black oppression via slavery yet make no mistake it is the  critical, requisite, essential  starting point for consideration of that history. It becomes apparent very early how deeply complex is the task to pick out every nit as a process toward self-definition,  establishing authentic identity and self-hood from the singularities which have been imposed and impressed unwillingly upon Black identity during the periods of captivity. 

Further, this identity formation must necessarily occur while crimes and injustices are continually committed against Black person-hood, while that person-hood in formation is still being challenged from without and questioned from within. It is a discourse that must continue even as we suffer pains and passions from re-memory, rehabilitation, from reclamation of this Self. This intra-cultural consciousness raising for Blackness' own sake and survival by its own people can never be abandoned, not even at after a successful nation is built by and for Blackness. (Never Forget! Never Forget!!) The ultimate badge of Black Love is the dedication to community building and consciousness raising. To raising our own consciousness, overcoming the oppression in our history, instilling revolution and rebellion  in hearts and minds for the sake of an authentic, self-definition based on love, truth, freedom and survival -- even when this task demands the exclusion of well-intentioned and truly devoted brothers and sisters of other colors, from other mothers.

Do I feel that the world was a better place without the existence of N-I-G-G-A? No, actually I don't believe it would necessarily demonstrate any marked social improvement or heightened consciousness. Not really. When Emmett Till was murdered in 1954 the Politics of  Black Respectability tended to discourage usage of N-I-G-G-A  -- certainly at least in terms of its common usage by people of all colors as it is used today -- among black folks themselves but that didn't check racist torturer, murderers from torturing and murdering that young boy all those years ago, whose murder so vividly mirrors the tragic murder of Trayvon Martin. Of all the Trayvon Martins whose names are unknown but whose violent deaths occur everyday. Back in the day. Today. Tomorrow. 

I would love nothing more than a  return to  Frantz Fanon's meditations on Negritude. Perhaps I was naive but in 2008 when Obama fever swept the nation I dreamed of a neo-Harlem Renaissance, a period in which all that was best and beautiful in Black American culture would flourish abundantly. i was forever telling my friends and family of the coming revolution in art, writing, music, theatre, intellectual thought. ''It's coming! The Neo-Harlem Renaissance and resurrection of Negritude and -- Ah!! Just you want and see! It will be beautiful!" My own eloquence and emotional celebration of this evidence of Black Love moved me to tears. But somehow - I don't understand it! - the neo-renaissance did not happen. Unless you count Jay and Bey hanging out with the Prez. (I do not count Jay and Bey hanging out with the Prez as a neo-Renaissance.) Perhaps, I shall stay positive and say instead that it has not happened yet. But it will happen I tell you. It is inevitable...or something. 

No matter,  I will always  encourage examination Blackness, the consciousness raising on Blackness.

I'm going to preach Black Love til I die. And I do believe there is intrinsic self-worth in the African-American experience despite the troubling trend and re-birth of Nigga, despite divisions in thought, history, belief and heritage by Blacks of diverse cultures and ethnicity. African-American's are no less immune from  hideous inheritances and harmful practices than Africans are from their own colonial heritage. 

But there's little achieved  by finger the pointing exercise of whose experience is better, more authentic, more Black. The bottom line is that it's a circular argument which  exists for its own sake and achieves very little. There is so much else to question and discuss. Is it possible to have a Politics of Revolution minus acts of Terrorism, which Fanon and Nelson Mandela ultimately embraced as the only means of freeing Africans from European colonialism? (And indeed, it is worth noting that it proved the only successful  method in the end.) Can there be  a Politics of Pan African Heritage minus the false but well-meaning self-esteem building mythology of Afrocentrism? Is it in fact true and necessary that "It's a Black thing and you wouldn't understand"? Is there such a thing as Black Power without the demonization and eternal expulsion of Whitey? How do we manage to be obedient to a Politics of Blackness while practicing  dis-obedience to  the self-destructive tenets planted by former white masters for the taming of the wild African nature? How do we root out  self-destructiveness practices among ourselves as Black, liberate ourselves from evident self-hatred and caste-like conditions such as colorism for instance, or black on black crime which is presently destroying South Chicago this very moment?

So the continued discourse about the NIGGA/NIGGER is a rich, powerful and ultimately healing  discourse that presents the potential to unearth so much  of relevancy and pressing need in Black culture across its spectrum from Africanism to Afican-Americanism to Caribbeans and on. It has some power in the potential of forcing ourselves to look in the mirror and describe ourselves as we are now. There is more at stake than just the inheritances of the Past and it is so easy to confine the discourse to the origins of these issues but at the end of the day we must also face who we are in the Present. We cannot change the Past but we can alter the Present....and the Future.  And who knows it might even be a good thing if such discourse is able to eliminate both words Nigger/Nigga - as ideas and as actual cultural personifications. 

 When I was reading the reply to my comment in the Guardian's comment section I didn't mean to  encourage anyone to use either word, but it is a tiny point that carries deeply significant meaning depending how the words nigga/nigger are used, personal feelings aside. But still - call me stubborn - but it seems to me that if you are so militant in your beliefs about That Word that you are required to Attack! complete strangers over its politics and its poisonous origins from the word "nigger'' then perhaps you need to focus more on  backing up you bite and Step Away From the Hip Hop!! In most cases, present day hip hop is not going to lend you much support for a Politics of Anti-Reclamation nor any support for Black Community Building Based on Self Love because that would distract from the Bling Ethic and Capitalism focus.  Ergo, a Kanye West music review is not the best place to start the  movement of Negritude. 

Kanye can maybe do the after-party once we re-establish the neo-Black Renaissance and Neo-Negritude movements but I'll have to get back to you on that after the Congress of Black Love and Power meets to hold a vote. And doubt not that there is an existing Congress of Black Love and Power, because there is. Right now, however,  there's just so many crises that we haven't had the time to meet and determine the specifics on matters such as this. And, frankly, you may have to get comfortable with the fact that Blackness is not, in fact, about a meeting of minds into one central mind, in one tent, but a rather a diverse community built upon varied experiences and people who share a common characteristic, which includes color in this instance -- and more. No doubt it would be so much easier for everyone -- who is non-black -- if Black people would just elect a leader to tell the Rules. To explain what's okay and what's not. Wouldn't that be wonderful and so pleasant? It would simply get rid of so many misunderstandings particularly the ones made by allies of the Black community who often take some harsh and hurtful beat-downs sins of presumptuousness and the like. And that creates rifts and hurt feelings and--

But wait. Blackness doesn't exist to give definitions to the curious, nor to elect leaders, nor to issue issue Important Proclamations and Official Statements to allies, opponents, apathetic outsiders or even to ourselves. Blackness is an experience, vast and old. You just may have to school your heart that it is okay for Blackness to be vast and diverse and deep, with many gradations of ideas and actions. 

Just... let's not leave it to Kanye to be the announcer, if an announcer is needed. You know to say about the diversity and vastness and depth-thing. I mean, if Kanye is going to be the one to do that announcement then we need to get together and agree on that stuff like ASAP because I want to nominate some other folk whom I think are better suited. Kanye....just...Look, there's some other folk more qualified is all I'm saying. Not that we must have a leader. But let's not fall out and start having intra-warfare over disagreements on who will or will not make the Big Announcements On Blackness, or who hosts the After-Party following Big Important Announcements.  I mean, Kanye--- man, whatever! And you know he'll insist on bringing Kim Kardashian with her couch dress wearing ass. 

Just - I'm saying, can we do some other stuff on the docket first? Come back to Kanye later, my African brother? Even though you was wrong to say I'm not your sister, I'ma not have a grudge. We've got bigger chickens to fry. 


I can so have fried chicken at the After Party! You can't say that there can't be fried chicken! And maybe if we do a buffet then ---

Look!! That is all. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Conversations on a Discouraging Love Affair

When you love someone you have to prepare yourself for the the possibility that the Beloved may well resent you for that love. As Lovers we want to believe that everyone is waiting to be loved perfectly, and that upon realizing that perfect love has found them the Beloved will fall into your arms and skip with you in sync over sunny white sand beaches and cherry blossom strewn spring days.

But sometimes the Beloved resents the Lover because of the blindness that exists in his own heart. When the Beloved cannot see himself at all it makes him angry to be told what he cannot even imagine. He rejects the gift because he does not believe in perfection. The resentful Beloved wants no part of a robust love given freely and abundantly, and he will abuse and reject any Lover who offers it.

If you are the Lover and this is your Beloved you must remember that it is not the Love that hurts you merely the actions of the Beloved. You may have to allow your love to exist silently and privately. You may have to put your Love away quietly, to hide it where the un-happy Beloved can never find it nor damage what is precious to you. There is no guarantee at all that the Beloved will ever accept your love. There is no guarantee that a Lover will find fulfillment and peace with his Beloved. Sometimes there will be only sorrow when this Lover and Beloved meet.

However  generous Lovers be comforted: Love may grant you a much more kindly and deserving Beloved in return payment for your Lover's faith. A churlish, resentful Beloved is not the true Lover's natural object of affection; it's an aberration of Nature yet not entirley unheard of. A true Lover may have to wait in patience for Karma, Time and Fate to reveal a much more compatible mate.

There are laws to Love just as there are laws the govern the rest of creation.  Saying goodbye to the resentful Beloved may be a blessing. Wait. The Universe will reveal its secrets in time. The rhythms of love will respond to the paces of a steady heart. To the constant heart. Patience is the key to open the door. Longing will provide the necessary strength to lead you through the new  experience. And that love that you have kept safe will bond you to the true Beloved who has been searching, waiting and anticipating you.

Based Upon Conversations and Loving Advice from my dear friend Cicely N.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Women's Business: From Feral Competition & the Complex Bonds of Sisterhood to an Emerging Feminism (for Dummies)

I grew up in a family dominated by women which was headed by my grandfather who was the stereotypical  powerful patriarch.
 And while he was far more than a mere figurehead in this semi-harem nevertheless it was still an atmosphere where the women were the power behind the throne. My grandmother was a beautiful, educated, extremely brilliant and talented woman. The two of them were larger than life characters whose reputations always preceded them.
But we were a family of non-conformists there was the advantage of  individuality for all the women which was encouraged and never repressed.

In my family, it was the women who were particularly creative and assertive. That tradition has certainly been true for Black families in America but it took on a proactive, positive and distinct trademark in our family minus the oppressive struggle element that often is the primary cause of Black female character development. 

So the grooming of daughters was a nearly a sacred and very complex task. It was a sort of ritual imbued with importance, happiness and significantly the passing of secrets as well.

Beauty secrets were handed down over dinner. While preparing for church. In church, even. "Do you see that woman? The way she's styled her hair in that french roll? It's done just right. When we get home I'll show you how to do that."

"Look at how that woman is behaving." my mother might comment at a party. "She's acting up because her man keeps on talking to that woman in the red dress and she's jealous. But she's only making a fool of herself! Never ever let a woman know you feel threatened in that way! You're only giving her power of you!"

Secrets. Instructions. Etiquette. Moral Development. Survival Techniques. So many things that must be handed down to daughters from mothers, grandmothers, aunts and cousins. And not all of it would be considered feminist I was to learn later. Certainly I was taught to view other women competitively. And standards that were set for my brother and the other males of the family were never the same standards that were applied to my behavior and expectations. 

In some ways I may be un-learning those lessons for the rest of my life. Yet I don't know what would have happened to me, how I could have survived infancy without the stringent, constant, all-encompassing instruction that was forever being whispered in my ear. 

In a family of women there are secrets that are kept from the very men who share the family house and even the marriage bed. 

"Now don't you tell this, what I'm about to tell you!! This is women's business only!" My mother still says that to me from time to time “This women's business". And I suppose in a perfectly feminist world there would never be such a distinction. It's one reason I've always felt handicapped among my girlfriends, many whom are committed and thoroughly educated in feminist thought. I learned late the value of feminism but little by little I learned it and embraced it. Yet it remains a sort of secret subversion that is always at war with the women's business as I was taught at home that lies in the back of my brain
guiding my actions subconsciously at times.

I'm not skilled in the technical vocabulary of feminism. I can't describe to you its evolution from first-wave to second and third-wave ideologies. I haven't read many, many of the most groundbreaking works. I am still learning and have a long way to go before i can claim fluency in the revolution of establishing full human rights for women. I am a still working out what it means to be feminist and how one's behavior should conform to that commitment. I make mistakes though I define myself as feminist. In conversation with my girlfriends I always find myself making clumsy statements or judgments that scandalize my friends who then instruct me on the errors of my beliefs. And, so often I have learned valuable secrets from those feminists, my friends - women's business that may contradict my familial training but nevertheless functions with a practicality of its own that differs from what I was taught.

My mother and grandmother were teaching me what they knew based upon survival in a patriarchal social model that they weren't attempting to overturn. However they were deeply concerned with power and their secrets were political in nature designed to make me a power- wielding woman throughout my life regardless of the setting.

My feminist theory is weak and still blossoming and is ever at war with my mother and grandmother's words. First and foremost they were concerned with the practical elements of survival and adaption. Yet they were revolutionary in their outlook. The women of my family were the most independent and powerful individuals I ever encountered among other friends’ mothers, sisters and assorted womenfolk. They spoke without consideration for the Rules, never even attempted to appear obedient to pastors or husbands. True they often conducted their subversive talk and actions behind the backs of the patriarchs but they still acted in accord with their own beliefs and decisions. 

And I spend a great deal of time weighing the ideas of my feminist idols like bell hooks,
Alice Walker (I am primarily a Womanist which is related to mainstream feminism as way “purple is to lavender”, in the words of Alice Walker.) Discovering Womanism allowed me to embrace a model of  feminist exploration that spoke from the viewpoint of a Black woman’s situation in society, critiquing race, gender and class simultaneously whereas mainstream white feminism still often lacks true revolutionary action in these areas. Womanism felt familiar to me and familiar to those goddesses of my child and young woman-hood who surrounded me in the kitchen for Woman Talk.

Womanism, for me combines the practicality and real world perspective that so inextricably laces Black women into American society and the world in general. When I was in the midst of those grand beautiful woman as a child listening to women's business I was invariably in the kitchen, or the hair salon, or at my mother's vanity as she dressed and made up her face. Not only did their instruction occur specifically for my female ears but it occurred in gendered spaces too. 

It wasn't until my 30s that I began to embrace female relationships with women who were not family. It was so ingrained within me to view women as rivals –for men, for jobs, for popularity, for beauty - that I had very few deep female friendships as a young woman. My goals as a teen and twenty-something revolved around success in the career world that was dominated by males, and management of my love life with men. It took a series of deeply dramatic and life changing events to shift my perspective and open myself to female friendships.

And it is my girlfriends who now instruct me in much the same way as my mother and grandmother did before. So often I can think of my friend Ebony saying "No a man would never be expected to do that!!" And then I think quietly to myself That is true. But so what? And then I think some more on her always sophisticated and wise ideas and realize Yes she's right. From there I am led to the critical question of How to change my outlook to empower myself without further limiting myself based upon thoughts and ideas which ultimately may handicap my own ambition and success through outmoded, gendered thought and action. 

My feminism, my womanism, is still practically bound in this stage. I haven't reached a point of grand world vision yet. I'm in the baby step stages. But you see there must be allowances for those pre-school, remedial lessons. It takes a great effort powered by sincere desire to begin training oneself OUT of gendered thought. And particularly for Black women who encounter deeply complex battles on two fronts, from racism AND sexism.

I don't say it to my girlfriends but I often leave conversations with my feminist friends feeling embarrassed and weak. I was brought up to be a strong, dominant and successful woman but the ideas of radical, gendered freedom complete with complex vocabulary like hegemony, agency, patriarchal oppression, post-modernism take time to digest.

In graduate school I thought I would run mad from frustration with advanced feminist language. It was entirely new to me and being deeply entrenched in the women's business I learned quite literally at my foremothers' knee (probably while having my hair braided) I was being forced to un-learn and challenge lessons that were valuable to me in sentimental terms and which I actively based the way I lived my life.

I became infamous  in the department due to my argumentative approach to feminist theory.* However, it wasn't stubbornness for its own sake, nor was my attitude prompted by a gleeful selling-out with the intention to prop up the Man's phallocentric, patriarchal misogyny do or die. Quite simply, I had a tremendously difficult time grappling with complex theories which were entirely new to me, and whenever I sought clarification from fellow students, from professors, I was never treated with reasonable and serious consideration as a scholar seeking true understanding rather than a mere rote repetition of Ivory Tower principles. I
n fairness this was very advanced feminist critique which is challenging even to intellectuals, and I was barely out of pre-school instruction when it came to feminist theory.

During one class with a famous feminist scholar I blurted out loudly "This is some nonsense! That has zero relevant application in the real world and WHY are we talking about it!!" 

You could have cut the silent astonishment with a knife. "Perhaps you need to do some more reading," the Professor told me quite acidly. I was burning with shame and embarrassment and I could feel the pity and schadenfreude directed at me by the rest of the class.

Truthfully the discussion was nonsense and devoid of practical value. And as well I was still recovering from serious illness that day and had been rather too liberal in the pain killer and Xanax dosages that my doctor had prescribed. In short I was high as hell, or I would never have said such a thing to such a venerable scholar who was known for her sarcastic and condescending attitude.

And it was true, furthermore, that I needed to do more studying, as she said.

In artistic and academic circles among the intellectual glitterati and poseurs it is assumed
Artist Angel Hardy
that every woman is fluent in feminist thought, and women are quick to cut other women, trumping them in discussion with  brilliant wit and ideological dexterity. It's a skill that is admirable to be so advanced in feminist thought and I do aspire to greater fluency, but the fact is that not everyone is fluent. I certainly am not, and I know that I am not alone in this rudimentary, remedial skill set. Many of us are open to the wisdom and truth from our sisters because we know ourselves to be wallowing in old, patriarchal principles.

And it is through my friendships with other women, partnerships that are deeply where I have found the best instruction. But the most important feminist principle that can ever be practiced, in my opinion, is patience by those with missionary zeal determined to convert every other ignorant female soul.

 The ideas of throwing off the gendered yokes that hold us back from full humanist realization are principles that can be parroted easily but take immense devotion, consideration and time to understand. 

Destroying an opponent in debate is no less gratifying for intellectuals than a gladiator besting his enemy in blood-sport. But if sisterhood is to be achieved successfully then we have to be patience and kind and committed to teaching one another.

Don't immediately destroy another woman who inadvertently demonstrates her ignorance and advantageously reveals your superiority. Help guide her. I can tell you that it is utterly humiliating to look into the eyes of another woman whom you know looks down on you for your lack of skill and knowledge, and I've felt that humiliation more than once upon witnessing the triumph by intellectual foes who have bested me on the debate field of honor.

Frankly, it is rather dishonorable to engage battle to the death with a foe who cannot properly or adequately defend herself. Yet it is also true that even feminists have to respect the fact that some women don't want to be feminist. And those women will always  be the most difficult individuals to convert; they will support patriarchal domination and structural oppression long after the last male warrior has fallen.

The journey of each individual woman toward feminist understanding of her own is deeply personal. And, if we are truthful to one another about that journey, then there is no shame in admitting how uncomfortable and difficult it is at times to release the old, familiar ways that maintained the constructive of one's world. Sisterhood, like the maternally dominated secret world of my growing up, is a powerful force of intimacy that is essential to every woman's growth; without it there can be no conversion from the old ways.

Many of us are still babies on the road to enlightenment and empowerment. And we need our wiser sisters to be gentle and patient and willing to be guides to the new ethic of sisterhood, particularly when it deviates from what we have known as truth before.

This is true nature of women's business and the most practical application of all.

*After a few years in my grad program, a friend disclosed that I was not the only graduate student who felt in over her head, I was merely the only one honest enough to say so plainly in public. An acquaintance in my cohort admitted that  everyone had been in a similar state of utter confusion during one particularly stressful course on theory in which I earned a reputation as the only one brave enough to out herself when I did not understand. Each week, so I was told, my cohort waited for me  to become frustrated enough to stop the discussion which resulted in universal enlightenment by the haughty and patronizing female professor. My friend expressed gratitude to me for helping to liberate the whole cohort from the primitive darkness that trapped the whole lot of us.)  

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


you lost your love

it got re-possessed
cuz you couldn't afford
the interest,the credit
the fees in the debit.
then you discovered

the quality of the lover
was far less than advertised.
unlike that Clearance
chicken fryer
bad love burns hotter
than hot sauce, grease and water
the scars sear like
tar on the heart.
the damage and pain

done in the name of 
what's gone, unreclaimed
shows on your face
like messy tear stains

the melancholy remains
long after the love departs
and your credit report
still reflects the score 

Zero, nada
you lost yo shit

An Unsettled Debt
in red it says
Emotionally Bankrupt

Sunday, September 8, 2013

UnDiminished Memories Part II

These are undiminished memories
of recklessness in disguise
activities cloaked
as love
as lust
always in the language of desire
exquisitely expressed by the eyes
that heat
that burning elixir feeding
that throb twixt the legs
longing for
and delight
Do you believe in love at first sight?
So beautiful while it lasted
an infinitesimal
stroke of time
one distinct moment
in the vastness of life
And it freezes me
warms me
recurs endlessly, eternally
inside my mind

Saturday, September 7, 2013

UnDiminished Memories of Recklessness In Disguise

It is the intensity
that scorches the heart
Artist Daniel Johnson
(not sorrow)
And pitch which measures our pain
alas, quite without the intention
through devotion
we fucked (over)
each other again
It was not the love
that was wrong,
but the need 
was not right
as we danced
to a discordant melody
our dance steps cloaked
and abject fears of flight
while the lover's
embrace disimulated
a fairy tale frivolity
of purest delight

Claustrophobia was
our sanctuary
memory begets
only tears
for secrets
in spite of the years

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Leave Sheryl Underwood Alone

I feel bad that everyone is being mean to Sheryl Underwood. If you aren't a fan of Sheryl's comedy you might find her a bit shocking or *gasp* even "ghetto" but that is exactly what I like about her comedy. If you actually watch the clip she says nothing about hating blackness or black hair. In the context of the moment it was a very funny Sheryl-esque thing to say.( If you want to go back and find out what she's alll about then you need to have seen Comic View on BET before evil Viacom got in and destroyed all that was good and nice about BET. RIP BET. Anyway.)

I feel especially bad for her because to me she didn't say anything that I wouldn't have heard down at 15th Street and generally I heard much worse. I honestly don't even agree that she said anything bad unless it is to acknowledge that she made a comment about blackness in humor that one shouldn't make in white (cough,cough POLITE) company.

I remember once my mother was listening to a conversation down at one of 15th Streets's satellite ticket houses (gambling establishments, for yall that don't know nothing) and a group of folks were talking and laughing and my mom was curious and wanted to know what was so funny. You have to know my mother who is about as wholemsome and innocent a creature as can be found in any color. She likes to think she's really hip and cool...but mostly she's not. Not in the way she wanted to be...in the way of ther Aunt Helen who was a legend on the Avenue, a famous grifter and prostittute known for her daring fashion sense and killer attitude. Mommy isn't like that. Mommy is just...herself...well you'll see...

So she inches to the crowd who are all nearly fallling apart laughing. Vi or someone was saying. --"Aw nigga when that shit hit me and you KNOW---!! Aw hell yeah I was like "Beam me UP, Scotty!" Everyone was laughing at this apparently shared experience until Mommy says--

"Who's Scotty?"*


Sheryy Underwood comes from a more raw comedy talent that is best absorbed in closed black audiences otherwise it is easy to mistake her talent as coonish or self hating. In oNe of her best routines when she was on Comic View she walks on stage with her handbag clutched to her chest as she holds the mike.

"You know, cuz white people steal," she says deadpan to the all black audience.

The only thing Sheryl Underwood did wrong in this age of hyper-conscious blackness that may bend a bit over-protective in the intensity of white supremacy  was to say something out loud that black folk might have laughed at if there had only been NO WHITE PEOPLE in company. But shouldn't part of our blackness be about FREEDOM to say even the stuff that white folks DON'T GET?

True comedy takes courage, honesty and daring. Leave Sheryl alone.

*Beam Me Up Scotty is a reference to crack-cocaine smoking. Scotty being the engineer of the Star Trek Enterprise 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

A Lyrical Ballad: Journey and Endurance

I cannot go on, she says
in the night
it hurts,
Art by Karol Bak
I'm afraid,
and I'm too tired to fight

I have been cut by the dull edge of the blade
Wounded by the quiet rip of the knife

Inside I am alive
but the fear is so bright
that I stumble
in spite of the mourning star's light

I fall and I rise

I am a daughter of Night
Covered in the dust of the trek
the dew washes my wretchedness
So I stand bare before my love:
I am betrothed to  Kismet

Walk with me,
mine lover
We shall cut the morrow
like a veil
to protect us
from dispossession
despair and

And our children shall never
be undone
nor shall any blade
rend them apart

Artist: Lesya Nedzelsky
Then I shall be free
to repent and atone
the nights I nearly gave
my life too wantonly
from fear of being alone

Because I nearly succumbed
to that serpent
the King of Loneliness,
the Prince of Despair.
From the likes of the sorrowful
he hears each and every anti-prayer

but the night I cried
without understanding
still, I was guided away

And I tell you, the Heart-Riven,
that moonlight is enough
to guide even tear-blinded strays
thru stones of turmoil
thru the thorns and the brush