A Quiet Corner….

Sometimes what you need is a quiet corner to sit and think in.

I’m not talking about writing. Writing is a 5K run you do every morning because the afterglow tastes sweet and clean.

We need “more writing, less blogging,” Summer says. I agree. Much more. We need more words and we need more love.

But I’m all out of words and writing and grammar these days. I’m exhausted because I’m still having the same conversations about guns and rape and prison I was having ten years ago. Meanwhile Hadiya Pendleton died. And I didn’t know her and I didn’t know the forty-three other people shot and killed in January (as logged by Red Eye) but I love her with the love an oldest sister holds for her siblings. And Chief Keef was sentenced to sixty days in a youth detention center for holding a gun (at a gun range, in a video interview) and I have no love for him, really I don’t, but he is a child so the love I have for him is the love a future mother has for her sons.

That’s just Chicago. One little city on the coast of one little lake. Then there’s Delhi, Santa Maria, Cairo. I want to re-read Joy James and Arundhati Roy and Alice Walker, put a pillow over my head and sleep the rest of the winter.

Sitting in my room, black girl colored indigo, I imagine how it must feel to feel safe. To see an outrage instead of an everyday. To trust, if blindly, that when you scream someone, any fucking one, will come running.

What a silly, small, meaningless thing. Safety. A simple, impossible desire.

But I want it. I want to walk outside and feel control and be an ecstasy of black heritage. I want it this month. I want it every month. I want to lick and roll the ratchet around in my mouth and lock arms with my own futurity. I want to be assumed to be the one left standing at the end of the war. Instead of the slave following the caravan. Or one of the faceless dead.

I’m so foolish. I thought I was here for writing and done with blogging. What the hell are words for if they can’t do basic shit like heal a wound, stop a bullet, or wipe a tear?

But I’m at a bottleneck. And what else is blogging for?

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On Mental Health Metalanguages: From New York to Newtown

Names of the Newtown Shooting Victims

 

 

I just wrote about violence. And I don’t want to add to any of the media hype surrounding recent events.

I only want to say this:

We need to get clear about what we call for when we call for mental health reform.

We need to be careful.  Because it sounds like we are putting it in the same category as gun control and school security.  And that is a dangerous correlation to make.  Putting those three things together constructs a symbology of state violence we are not being proactive about deconstructing.

Reforming mental health services–what does this mean to you?  Does it mean we see someone walking down the street, talking to themselves, and we call the police who lock them up–just this time in a facility and not a jail?  Does it mean we target the young, white boy wearing a black trench coat or the hyperactive black boy running around the room or the too skinny girl sitting in the corner gazing out the window?  Does it mean we create holistic, community-centered alternatives to institutionalization and overmedication?  Does it mean we build higher, thicker walls around our schools, workplaces, and homes to keep out “the crazies” but forget to deal with the fact that mental illness is, as Rha Goddess once said, literally in the damn water.  What is treatment, recovery, and rehabilitation in a world where we tie mental health reform to jail and the police aren’t always friendly to those of us who are black, brown, queer, poor, homeless?  We want to feel safe but how do we create safe spaces and community acountability without setting up new and even more dangerous stigmas?

I don’t believe my son belongs in jail. The chaotic environment exacerbates Michael’s sensitivity to sensory stimuli and doesn’t deal with the underlying pathology. But it seems like the United States is using prison as the solution of choice for mentally ill people. According to Human Rights Watch, the number of mentally ill inmates in U.S. prisons quadrupled from 2000 to 2006, and it continues to rise—in fact, the rate of inmate mental illness is five times greater (56 percent) than in the non-incarcerated population.

We had better get really critical, really quickly, because we are not all speaking the same language.

We don’t want another drug war.  We know who will suffer–is already suffering–first.

This Erotic Life

“As a Black lesbian feminist, I have a particular feeling, knowledge, and understanding for those sisters with whom I have danced hard, played, or even fought. This deep participation has often been the forerunner for joint concerted actions not possible before.”

Another historic eve.  Another election.

Go out, go vote.  I am.

But I’m also sitting in the lab, folded around my work, reminding myself and reminded that community is created through love making on the daily.

 

 

[Full Text: Audre Lorde, “Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power” in Sister Outsider: Essays & Speeches By Audre Lorde (1984; repr., Berkley, CA: Crossing Press, 2007), 53-59.]

 

Empathy (The #Rihanna Post)

Rihanna – You Da One Video Screenshot (:13)

I’m going to make this short and quick. And angry.

Every time you tell someone Rihanna deserves what she gets because [insert misogynistic and ignorant reason here], you are wrong.

Every time you tell someone, Rihanna is “publicly accepting her abuser–nothing more, nothing less” or “it’s so black and white,” you are wrong.

Every time you tell someone Rihanna should or should not have done whatever, whenever, wherever, and how dare she and (my favorite) how COULD she–Congratulations.

You’ve just silenced someone around you who is being abused.

And I’m not talking about Rihanna. This post isn’t about Rihanna.

This post is about the woman in the office next to you who says grace over her food. This post is about your personal trainer and his fantastic thighs. This post is about your best friend from college who you are meeting for drinks later. This post is about your professor. Or your student. Or the kid you babysit for.

This post is about your play cousin and your godchild and your niece.

This post is about your sister and your mother and the pastor’s wife.

Every time you decide to pass some abstract and sanctimonious judgement on Rihanna and her relationship with Chris Brown–man she loved, a man who beat her, a man who she is now collaborating with again–

Every time you do ANYTHING LESS THAN WALK WITH EMPATHY AND UNDERSTANDING WITH HER, you’ve just let someone in your life know that everything that happens to them–abuse, rape, psychological warfare–it is all their fault. If they go back, they are to blame. If s/he hits them next time, they are to blame. If s/he kills them when they leave, they are to blame.

You’ve let them know that there is no reason for them to come to YOU for help, should they decide that this time is too much and it is time to go. Worse, you’ve let them know that even if they are leaving, they can’t come to you because you are no longer–if you ever were–a safe space. A space where they don’t have to deal with the recriminations, the guilt, the pressure and fear and anger that is swimming around them because the society we live in is COMPLETELY UNFORGIVING of survivors of abuse and is especially unforgiving of “sassy,” “spicy,” “ratchet” women of color (I mean, don’t we all deserve what we get?).

Because you’ve let your judgement, your agenda, your own internalized misogyny erase safety from the picture, you’ve let someone you love know that they will not be able to rely on you in THEIR time of need.

Everytime you decide that it is fun or funny or provocative to recirculate pictures of Rihanna’s beaten face, you’ve just closed yourself off as a resource to someone who needs you. Not because you aren’t willing to help. I’m sure you are. But your actions have now shown someone around you, SOMEONE YOU LOVE, that asking you for help is also asking for ridicule. And in a situation that is already frightening and dangerous, you’ve confirmed what they already feared was true–that no one will believe them, that they are crazy, that it is all their fault and their problem, and that there is no support out there for someone like them.

Every time you decide to judge Rihanna in the Saturday Morning sitcom binary of leave/success or stay/fail, you are LETTING SOMEONE IN YOUR LIFE KNOW THAT YOUR LOVE HAS CONDITIONS, THAT YOUR AID COMES WITH STIPULATIONS AND CRITERIA THEY NEED TO MEET BEFORE THEY CAN BE DEEMED WORTHY

If not Rihanna, who is worthy? Sad faced white women? Puppies? Chris Brown who “apologized?”

The funniest part of this? Three years ago, half of y’all couldn’t even be bothered. She deserved it then too, so I guess I should be surprised that she deserves it now.

But I am.

Because, again, this isn’t about Rihanna.

But someone in your life who thought they could rely on you is hearing you. And they just unpacked their bags. Because you just closed the door in their face.

Shame on you.

(This post is dedicated to my boo, @dopegirlfresh)

DC/MD/VA! The Latinegr@s Project is Coming Your Way!!!

Photo Credit: Chester Higgins via The LatiNegr@s Project (http://lati-negros.tumblr.com)

March 29-31 is the Southeastern Women’s Studies Association Conference at George Mason University.

The LatiNegr@s Project will be holding a roundtable for the People of Color caucus entitled:

How Did We Get Here?: Being AfroLatin@ in the Ivory Tower, in Activism and Online

on Friday March 30 at 3:15pm.

Come see us and support us too!

Also, LatiNegr@s Team Member Bianca Laureano will be discussing her experiences surviving the academy and beyond on the same day at 9:00 am as part of ANOTHER panel for the People of Color Caucus: Litanies of Survival from the Ivory Tower and Beyond. She will discuss continuing to have her work and herself survive after being pushed out of a women’s studies Ph.D. program.

Register here. [But if you drop in all guerilla machete style just to come say hi, I promise I won’t tell]

Full schedule here.

Come!  Meet us!  Play!  Touch our hair!  Actually…please don’t.  But do come hang out!

 

 

The Universe is Speaking

The universe has been throwing a lot at me the last few weeks.  Personal, professional, economic–you name it.  My stamina is running low.  My batteries have no time to recharge.  I’ve had moments that made me question my worth as a scholar, global citizen, net-izen, and friend.  At this point, all I can do is show up–and only because I hear someone’s voice telling me I’d damn well better.

Days like today, I wonder if the #gawds are even listening.

Lo and behold, the universe is speaking.

Happy Birthday Alice Walker!

Kima posting homage on Twitter reminded me that I was about to miss the birthday of the visionary whose words head this blog, who is the namesake of one half of my politico alter-ego, and who has helped me through more hard times than I can count.

Just seeing her presence everywhere reminded me I am more than I am.  I’ve been inspired, calmed, and pummeled by Alice Walker’s words, and by the example she sets as a writer, pacifist, and social justice conjurer.  Gawd bless her.  A world with Alice Walker in it can never be damned.  It’s just a world waiting to be saved.

Speaking of saving, today the always loving Alexis Pauline Gumbs reminded me that I also need to be saving myself.  Introducing Brilliance Remastered:

Calling all community accountable scholars and visionary under-represented grad students!

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Happy Black History Month from the Lati-Negr@s Project

Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia, Mexico

From In Motion: The African-American Migration Experience:

“From early on, racial classifications of Latin America and the Caribbean were complex. The criteria included skin shade, hair texture, and social background. The definition accepted in the United States-the only country with such a categorization-is the so-called one-drop rule, which makes anyone with any known African ancestry a black person.

In eighteenth-century Mexico, as in the rest of Latin America, racial mixture was classified in great detail.”

X-Posted at the LatiNegr@s Project.

Follow us on Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook for the Afro-Latino perspective as we celebrate Black History Month.  Honor your ancestors 365 familia.

Winter Has Come #CapricornSeason

Norma Wood. 17mm, f16, 20 ", ISO 200 Image Credit: Akos Kiss

To some, December means the end of the year, the end of the warmth and the return of caramel macchiato and pumpkin spice latte addictions.

For me, December means the end of stress, other people’s labor and the beginning of beautiful snowy landscapes, family gatherings and time I can call my own.  I have time to dive into ideas I dreamed up during the summer months and tackle fall’s loose ends.  I’ve always done my best writing and thinking over winter breaks.  Something about the cool air just clears my brain of all the clutter.

Winter is here.  Capricorn season is upon us.

And so is 2012.  Sooooooo much happened….

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Honor & Human Rights to Halmeoni (Grandmothers) x 1000

If I was a middle-class white man with too much time on his hands

Never mind.  News about black folks (read: African-American)  is capital these days.  Especially news that appears to cross conversations occurring within the community with the megaphone of an unsympathetic outsider.  I’m not a Google spider, but I can only imagine a certain host website exploded its monthly click and traffic quota this month.  And I won’t help since there are so many amazing critiques floating about.*

What did not get much burn this week was this:

South Korean women forced into wartime sexual slavery held their 1,000th weekly protest outside Japan’s embassy yesterday, demanding compensation and an apology from Tokyo as they have since 1992.

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Random Musings On Magic and Technology

Naomi Campbell Photographed by Seb Janiak in “Lighted Darkness” for Glamour Boys Inc

Magic is a funny thing.

At a brunch meeting with Allied Media Conference folks, one of the attendees commented on making IT more accessible: “because everyone starts from zero.”  When we began sharing stories about bad experiences with tech support, Macforums and Genius Bars, someone else remarked:  “It’s like magic.  They wave their hands and its fixed.  But you don’t know how they got there.”

Genius Bars are on par with the DMV on my list of Least Empowering Places To Go.

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